Hamilton leads championship after Rosberg retirement

Nico Rosberg suffered a major blow to his chances of a first Formula One title.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sprays the bottle of champagne over Red Bull Racing driver Sebastian Vettel on the podium after winning the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit on 21 September, 2014. Picture: AFP.

SINGAPORE - Nico Rosberg suffered a major blow to his chances of a first Formula One title when he retired from Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix after only 14 laps and lost his lead in the championship to race winner Lewis Hamilton.

The German, who qualified in second place for Mercedes, had already been forced to start from the pit lane after repeated issues with his car's steering wheel.

"It was a horrible feeling really, to see everybody go. Because then I knew it was over," Rosberg told Sky Sports television.

"Then the whole steering wheel just wasn't working so I didn't have any hybrid power and the shifting…I would shift two gears at once all the time and I had no DRS.

"The car just wasn't working at all. And then there was no point to continue. It was a tough day really."

The retirement allowed his team mate Hamilton to take the championship lead by three points after the Briton took victory at the floodlit Marina Bay street circuit.

Rosberg started the night race with a 22 point lead over Hamilton with six grand prix, including Singapore, but his problems were evident before the start as mechanics worked feverishly on his car.

He failed to make any impression from the back of the grid and came in slowly to pit and change the steering wheel yet again.

The 29-year-old pressed a number of buttons on the new wheel after a lengthy stop but waved his hands to indicate his race was over after getting no response from the car.

"I'm still disappointed with today because it's the reliability again," the German said after his second blank of the season.

"It's the weakness we have in the team and we need to improve that, to get to the bottom of all these things and then try and understand what happened today and move on and full attack for (the Japanese Grand Prix at) Suzuka.

Until Sunday Rosberg had suffered less mechanical misfortune than Hamilton, who has now won seven races to his team mate's four but suffered three retirements.