Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Singapore: Step by Step

Well its good to finally be blogging after a busy weekend. It certainly was busy for the drivers as they raced to the limit for two hours on the streets of Singapore. There were plenty of talking points...

Start: The circuit organisers had a cleaning machine for this years event after the dust of 2009 and it had an effect. Off the line, the two men furthest forward on the dirty side of the grid got better launches. Fernando Alonso countered Sebastian Vettel with a hard defensive chop whilst Lewis Hamilton was more aggressive into turn 1 and took back his grid slot of 3rd from team mate Jenson Button on the outside.

Gaining an advantage: Further back, there was some controversy though it would not emerge till after the race. Nico Hulkenberg took to the astroturf at turn 2 and used it to pass Vitantonio Liuzzi on the outside going into turn 3. Then the other Force India of Adrian Sutil went off track at turn 7 and gained momentum, passing the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. Both drivers would receive 20 second penalties after the race.

Are you serious mate?: Lap 3 and the safety car is deployed as Liuzzi's car is parked at the side of the track. Most of the front runners stay out but Red Bull decide to pit Mark Webber and put him on the hard tyre till the end of the race. Despite initial reservations from the Australian he pits and emerges in 11th. Felipe Massa who started last pitted before the safety car, doing a similar strategy as Alonso did in Monaco.

Timo train: Virgin had their last big update of the season and it paid off with improved pace. Timo Glock stayed out during the safety car period and found himself 10th at the restart. He was soon passed by Webber but put on a great display of defensive driving to hold off Adrian Sutil for several laps. Glock has always went well at the track, coming second last year for Toyota. However he would later retire and Virgin remain bottom of the championship. This race was a missed opportunity to move up the standings for the team

McLaren off the pace: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button found themselves dropping off the front 2 as the first stint progressed. The team finds itself right in the fight for both championships but whilst some great strategy and drives have kept them in the hunt they simply won't be able to win either unless they can find some performance gains. The tyres started to go for both Hamilton and Button and they found themselves leapfrogged by Webber.

Ferrari cover Red Bull: Vettel couldn't pit early as he would have hit traffic but when the McLarens pitted Red Bull seen the opportunity but unfortunately for them Ferrari spotted this and pitted Alonso at the same time. Vettel made an error at his stop, pulling away in second gear but he eventually got away. Staying out longer was ruled out by the team as the harder tyre was the quicker one at the time.

Hamilton and Webber collide: The safety car was deployed again after Kamui Kobayashi crashed at turn 18 and was then hit by Bruno Senna. On the restart Webber found himself behind two backmarkers in the form of the Virgin cars. He cleared one quickly but stuttered slightly into turn 5 behind the other and Hamilton was right on his tail. He got alongside and heading down to the braking zone of turn 7 found himself about half a car length ahead of the Red Bull which had the inside line. Hamilton braked late to try and get far enough ahead to maintain position. Webber fought hard though and also braked hard. He stayed tight on the inside, right up on the kerb but it got too tight on the exit and the front right of the Red Bull collided with the rear of the McLaren. Hamilton retired but Webber was able to continue. In my view, it was a racing incident. Hamilton was unlucky to find himself out whilst Webber was fortunate to get away with wheel rim damage to make the finish.

Schumacher and the Saubers: Michael Schumacher was involved in a lot of activity. First he was passed by Kobayashi who made a massive lunge and forced the Mercedes wide, even clipping the barriers. Schumacher was then passed by ex-colleague Nick Heidfeld, who squeezed the former world champion wide. The Mercedes then made a wild dive into turn 7 and sent Heidfeld into the barriers and out of the race. Team mate Nico Rosberg had a good drive, taking 5th position and extending Mercedes gap over Renault in the championship.

Kubica puts on passing masterclass: Robert Kubica has had some great drives this season but they have mainly been a case of getting into high positions and then being on the defensive from quicker cars. However after a puncture meant an extra stop it looked like getting any points would be a tough challenge. Granted he had fresher tyres which was a big help but it is still a tough track to overtake on. Buemi was dispatched first and team mate Petrov followed quickly. Next up was Felipe Massa and then Hulkenberg in the Williams. The Pole saved the best for last however. Adrian Sutil covered the Renault brilliantly down the Raffles Boulevard but Kubica did what Hamilton failed to do with a superb, clean move around the outside of turn 7.

Fireman Heikki: Finn Heikki Kovalainen had a good drive, running up in 13th late on but after being passed by Schumacher was tagged by Sebastien Buemi with the race drawing to a close. A fuel line was broken in the contact and after a lot of revving by Kovalainen to get the car pointing the right way the rear of the Lotus began to catch fire. Kovalainen was going to pull into the pitlane but opted against this, later saying he didn't want to take it in where a lot of people were. You can understand his indecision in the heat of the moment (excuse the pun!) but he did the right thing by stopping on the main straight. He then got hold of a fire extinguisher and proceeded to put the fire out himself! A shame for Lotus that they couldn't make the finish but they have maintained 10th in the championship

It was a race where Vettel was quicker but Alonso getting pole position was key and he put in a great drive to hold off the German. Webber maintains his championship lead but for McLaren its a case of not having the pure pace to compete. Jenson Button says they have a good update for Sukuza but i think they may need some rain to fall in Japan and Korea to have a chance.

Korea remains surrounded by rumours of it not happening. A FIA inspection has been delayed again and will only happen 13 days before the race is due to be held. The final layer of tarmac is going down today so that will be a crucial factor in whether the race will be able to go ahead. It would have an big effect on the chmpionship if the race fails to go ahead. It would also mean a 4 week break between Japan and Brazil.


  1. Would there be a replacement race if Korea does not go ahead?