Nico Rosberg made it a hat trick of victories but he was made to work hard for it at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, finishing just 0.488 seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
The Singapore Grand Prix came alive in the closing stages, when a chain reaction of pit stops, started by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, put Rosberg under threat when Ricciardo made a third pit stop to switch to the Supersoft tyre.
With Rosberg not pitting, the Australian was sometimes over three seconds a lap faster than the race leader, but ran out of laps to make a move, with the Red Bull Racing driver finishing second for the second consecutive year.
Rosberg’s victory, coupled with his Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Hamilton’s third place, means the German is back in front in the championship standings with six races of the season remaining.
The customary Singapore safety car came before half a lap was completed, when Nico Hülkenberg found himself spun around by Carlos Sainz Jr as both attempted to get passed the slow starting Max Verstappen.
Hülkenberg was forced to retire on the spot, while Sainz eventually was forced to pit by the stewards to remove a flailing part of his bodywork that they deemed dangerous, removing him from the battle for the points.
Taking avoiding action, Jenson Button damaged his front wing of his McLaren-Honda against the rear tyre of Valtteri Bottas’ Williams Martini Racing machine, which gave the Finn a puncture and put both drivers into the pits for repairs.
There was also a worrying sight when the race restarted, with a marshal scurrying off the track as the leaders sprinted down the front straight, just getting out of the way by the time Rosberg came passed.
Rosberg pulled away in the opening laps, and looked on course for a routine win until Hamilton jumped into the pits with sixteen laps to go, which enabled him to jump ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Raikkonen having seen the Finn pass him earlier in the race after making a mistake.
Raikkonen had followed him into the pits a lap later but the undercut saw Hamilton retake the final podium spot, but it was Ricciardo’s stop a further lap later that saw the race liven up.
Such was the advantage of the new rubber, Ricciardo saw a twenty-four second deficit drop to just five seconds in just seven laps, but a couple of traffic-affected laps and the fact he had used the best out of his tyres left him unable to catch Rosberg until the final lap, which by then was too late to make a challenge for the win.
Behind the leading quartet, Sebastian Vettel secured fifth place in the second Ferrari after a great drive from the back of the field following his qualifying suspension issue, scything through the field and making a good strategy call to finish well clear of the rest of the field.
Following on from his sluggish start, Verstappen recovered to sixth, finding himself passed Fernando Alonso late in the race, with the McLaren-Honda driver finishing seventh.
Sergio Perez recovered from his grid penalty to claim eighth place for the Sahara Force India team, who would have been disappointed to see Hülkenberg out so early through no fault of his own.
Perez finished just in front of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, who enjoyed a strong afternoon and a much-needed confidence boost, especially as he twice battled Verstappen on track, and only superior tyres in the final stages allowed his Red Bull replacement to get passed.
Kevin Magnussen also got a confidence boosting result, not just for himself but his Renault Sport F1 team, who broke into the points for only the second time this season, finishing just behind the battle between Perez and Kvyat.
Esteban Gutierrez for a fifth time in 2016 finished eleventh, with the Haas F1 Team driver still seeking his first points of the season, while Felipe Massa ended down in twelfth in a quiet afternoon for the Williams Martini Racing team.
Felipe Nasr finished thirteenth in the leading of the Sauber F1 Team machines ahead of Sainz, who saw his early promising position inside the top seven mean nothing following the decision by the stewards to request him to pit out of sequence to remove the dangerous part of his bodywork following his start line clash with Hülkenberg.
Jolyon Palmer also had a quiet afternoon to fifteenth in the second Renault, with the Manor Racing duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon sixteenth and eighteenth respectively, either side of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.
As well as Hülkenberg, both Button and Bottas ended up retiring from the race, while Romain Grosjean experienced his first career ‘Did Not Start’ after more problems on a disappointing and frustrating weekend for the Frenchman.
Marina Bay Race Result
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||+0.488||18|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||+1:11.197||8|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+1:51.062||4|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1:51.557||2|
|11||21||Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||Haas-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|12||19||Felipe Massa||BRZ||Williams-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|13||12||Felipe Nasr||BRZ||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|14||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|15||30||Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault||+1 Lap|
|16||94||Pascal Wehrlein||GER||Manor-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|17||9||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|18||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Manor-Mercedes||+2 Laps|
|RET||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||Retired|
|DNS||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas-Ferrari||Did Not Start|