Singapore Grand Prix: Vettel Proves Fastest in Lion City

Vettel took out last night’s Singapore Grand Prix, sharing his podium with Alonso and Raikkonen. The RB-9 was unchallenged from the start, though there is no denying the German’s talent. The second and third steps on the podium were more of a surprise, but a nice one at that after both Alonso and Raikkonen had poor qualifying sessions.

As the cars lined up on the grid, Mark was warned to go easy on the throttle, and Ricciardo was unfortunate to have his worst start of the season, before the Toro Rosso driver had even left the grid he’d conceded several places to drop back to fourteenth. Things were only going to get harder for the young Australian driver. Grosjean lost two places to Webber, and Alonso into the first corner, though worked hard to stay with the front-runners. The Spaniard made up for a less than satisfying qualifying as he flew up to fourth from seventh, proving that he can deliver in a less than optimal car. Into turn one it looked as if we were in for a tight race as Rosberg briefly nudged Vettel out of first. Unfortunately for Rosberg, Vettel was not about to let up that easily and had regained the position before the exit to the chicane. Within a few laps, the Red Bull with a fearful pace had developed a lead that could not be challenged, so the rest of the pack were left fighting for second.

The battle for thirteenth between Perez and Hulkenberg on lap 12 saw a collective intake of breath from fans around the world as the whole fray took place around Maldonado, a risky move in itself. Luckily all cars emerged unscathed, and the race continued. Ricciardo had a frustrating start failing to move off the grid, but things only got worse for him as he fully locked up into turn 18 and crashed head on into the barrier on lap 24. It was a disappointing end to a disappointing race for Ricciardo, the only good to come from it was that the safety car was deployed.  The timing of the of safety car split team strategies in two with most of the field coming back into pit their super-soft for medium compound tyres. with the exception of Vettel, Rosberg, and Webber, who were already running on mediums.

Di Resta, who couldn’t seem to catch a break over the weekend, suffered his third race retirement in a row after hitting the barriers on lap 54. It was sad to see di Resta retire when he looked set to collect his first point since Silverstone. The retirement didn’t cause another safety car however as the stewards could easily remove the stricken Force India.

My standout for the race would undoubtably be Lotus. Romain Grosjean had a superb race, probably the best I’ve even seen him do. He handled his car with confidence and precision of a much maturer driver than previously seen in the season. I was definitely one of the fans groaning in pain when he was called in for his pit-stop. A 40+ second pit stop to fix a fault on his engine’s pneumatic system all but killed his race, when he genuinely looked in a good chance to challenge for a podium finish. Shortly after his excruciating pit-stop his was called in and retired on lap 37. Almost as if to make up for Grosjean’s retirement, Kimi stepped up immediately to carve his way through the field from where he’d been cruising in eleventh. Whatever the treatment they gave Kimi on Saturday night seemed to work wonders, you’d never know that he was nursing a back injury for the aggression and speed he showed on track. The Finn made easy work of Button as the McLaren was losing grip on his tyres. Having never reached the podium at Singapore, Kimi definitely had some unfinnished business to attend to (See what I did there…?).

The remaining Australian on the track was struggling in the final laps of the race, after being told over team radio to short shift all gears Webber lost considerable pace and relinquished his fourth to Rosberg and Hamilton. Despite Webber’s best efforts to nurse the car to the finish line, his engine gave up on the final lap. Trust the Australian to turn his car into a BBQ. Webber caught a lift back to the pit on Alonso’s Ferrari, which saw them both be reprimanded by the stewards. It was Mark’s third of the season which meant he was handed a ten place grid penalty. The stewards decision was based on the fact that Rosberg and Hamilton had to take evasive action to avoid Alonso as he stopped to pick up Webber. It seems a bit harsh that the stewards chose this course of action, I’m all for driver safety, but these guys are Formula 1 drivers, they have pretty flipping quick reaction times.

– Alex

Qualifying Pole Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Podium Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault)
Fastest Lap 1:48.574 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)

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