4 SEPTEMBER 28 2011 motorsport-news.co.uk
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SINGAPORE GP REPORT
Red Bull ace closes to within one point of second title after dominant victory
VETTEL LIGHTS UP
IVettel stormed away from the field at the race start t was a seamless fusion of genius and folly, a contest ripe with brilliance yet scarred by bedlam. Sebastian Vettel is just one point from a second F1 world title following victory in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix – his ninth such success this year and a perfect illustration of astute race management. Lewis Hamilton, take note... Vettel insists the floodlit Marina Bay street circuit represents one of the season’s toughest challenges. No corner is infused with the essence of Spa –most require only second or third gear – but there are 23 of them and each is bathed in oppressive, sweaty humidity, even at night.
The German immediately converted his 11th pole of the campaign into a comfortable lead and was 2.5 seconds clear at the end of a devastating opening lap. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso followed, having vaulted MarkWebber (the Australian made a reasonable start, for once, but suffered because the outside of the front row had been a bit grubby underfoot), while Felipe Massa ran fifth ahead of Nico Rosberg (unimpeded by a trip over the kerbs at Turn One), Michael Schumacher and Hamilton. Towards the back, HRTdriver Daniel Ricciardo hit Timo Glock’s Virgin fairly hard, obliging the Australian to stop for a fresh front wing. The impact damaged the German’s steering and made his car even less
Massa was hampered by Lewis
Alonso and Webber had another entertaining battle for third position driveable than usual: on lap ten he would spin at Turn 18, tweaking his suspension and prompting the evening’s first retirement. Hamilton had looked capable of splitting the Red Bulls in qualifying, but was unable to make a second run at the end of the session because he didn’t have enough fuel in his tank, the result of a spillage caused by human error. As an added complication, he went into the race with only two sets of the brisker, super-soft Pirelli after losing one to a puncture during Q2. Hamilton briefly edged up to third on the run to Turn One, but was then squeezed out and pushed back to seventh – which became eighth when
Schumacher nipped ahead before the first lap was through. He dispensed with the
Mercedes drivers swiftly enough, passing both at Turn Six with the aid of his drag reduction system, but Massa proved a more stubborn adversary. Both stopped for fresh rubber on lap 11 – the Ferrari driver switching to softs, Hamilton staying on super-softs – and next time around the Englishman briefly drew level on the approach to Turn Seven. The Brazilian held his line, though, and forced the McLaren driver to tuck in behind. He did, but clipped Massa’s right rear tyre with his front wing – the latest in a recent series of misjudgements: the Brazilian limped to the pits with a puncture, while Hamilton continued without his front left wing for one lap before pitting andmaking a tactical switch to the harder tyre. Hewas soon back in again, this time to serve a drive-through penalty... McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh described the punishment as “harsh”, but admitted his feelings were inevitably tainted by impartiality. In truth,
the stewards’ decision warranted no complaint.
In a parallel universe, meanwhile, Vettel was
11.7s clear of Button by lap ten, when Webber moved up to third after muscling his way past Alonso. The Spaniard promptly pitted, however, and a short stint on fresh softs put him back ahead after the Australian pitted for identical footwear two laps later. Vettel came in on lap 14 and switched to the harder (ie. soft) tyre, before resuming where he had left off. Hewas 20 seconds clear before half-distance, his advantage over Button fluctuating from time to time as they negotiated lapped traffic.
The race’s complexion altered, however, when Rosberg ran fractionally wide at the last corner on lap 28. The Germanwas running seventh, on a fairly fresh set of super-softs, but the error dropped him behind Sergio Perez, who had yet to make a second tyre stop and was plodding along on a fairly worn set of softs. Rosberg elbowed the Mexican aside when they reached Turn One – and that enabled Schumacher, just behind and also running newish supersofts, to tee the Sauber up for a pass. On the approach to Turn Eight Perez slowed a touch earlier than Schumacher anticipated and the Mercedes rode up over the Sauber’s right rear wheel before crashing down and skating into the tyre wall. Schumacher was out on the spot, and received a reprimand from the stewards, but Perez escaped with a puncture and resumed after a pit stop.
The safety car was duly dispatched andmost of the leading group soon stopped for tyres, although it was too late for Vettel and Button to peel in and they had to wait until the end of lap 30. The Germanwas almost sideswiped by Heikki Kovalainen as he rejoined and Team Lotus was fined 10,000 euros for releasing the Finn in an unsafe manner.
The race resumed at the end of lap 33 and Vettel received a helping hand from slower traffic: he was separated from Button by Jarno Trulli, Tonio Liuzzi (both two laps in arrears, the Lotus driver having been delayed by a punt that earned Jaime Alguersuari a drive-through) and Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese totally failed to spot some urgently waved blue flags and Button spent more than a lap in his wake: Kobayashi was duly summoned for a drive-through, by which stage Vettel was almost ten seconds up the road and out of sight.
Kobayashi wasn’t the only one in trouble: Bruno Senna was running down the field after an unscheduled early stop for a new
Vettel: one finger, nine 2011 wins Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
“The surprise was that he didn’t hit the wall sooner” Kamui Kobayashi assessed, p7
didn’t hit the wall sooner”
motorsport-news.co.uk SEPTEMBER 28 2011 5 SEPTEMBER 28 2011
Results © 2011 Formula One Administration Ltd
SINGAPORE Circuit: Marina Bay Laps:61 Race distance:192.272 miles Lap: 3.152 miles Lap record:Kimi Räikkönen (2008), 1m 45.599s 2010 winner:Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Date: September 25 Weather: Dark Track temp: 35C (max) Ambient temp: 32C (max)
DRS Timing Line
Drag Reduction System Activation
Mighty Button pulled clear of Alonso and We bb er
Pa ul di Resta claimed a car eer-best sixth position front wing, the consequence of a spin at Turn 13, but Renault informed him that he was racing Perez for position as the contest resumed, although he was actually a lap in arrears. The two cars collided without serious consequence, but the team was fined 7500 euros for miscommunication.
Red Bull kept Vettel on the harder tyre after his second stop and was confident he could make it all the way to the end, but it responded when those behind made third stops and brought the German in for super-softs on lap 49. “We just wanted to cover everybody else,” said team principal Christian Horner, “to make sure weweren’t caught out on the wrong tyre if the safety car made a reappearance.”
Button began to reduce the deficit after his own final stop, on lap 48, but the leader was simply being cautious. “It was easy to sacrifice a few seconds here and there,” Vettel said, “because there was quite a lot of traffic and I was waiting until I definitely had gaps to avoid anymisunderstanding.”
Button closed to within 3.7s by lap 58, but he also had to deal with traffic (and squeeze past Alguersuari’s abandoned Toro Rosso, freshly crashed at Turn 18). The leaders were 6.5s apart at the start of the final lap, whenVettel had to pick his way through a group of five cars, but his control and judgement were impeccable to the end. “I really don’t think there is anything the team could have done better tonight,” he said.
It wasn’t quite enough to clinch the world title, but Vettel needs just one point from the remaining five races (and that’s if Button wins them all). So far this season, he has averaged 21.7 per start...
“I’m pretty happy with second,” Button said. “I saved fuel early on and that allowed me to drive flat-out during
Hamilton spent the early part of the race stuck behind rival Schumacher the final stint. I really couldn’t have gone any faster, but for most of the race it was impossible to get close to Seb – he was just too quick.” Webber passed Alonso for the second time with a finely judged move under braking for Turn Ten, moments after the restart. “I enjoyed that,” he said, “but don’t want to spend all my time fighting with Fernando because it probably means I’m not where I should be.” After his penalty, Hamilton fought back from 19th to take fifth ahead of Paul di Resta, who profited from a two-stop strategy to take a career-best sixth after doing all but laps 19 to 29 on the harder tyre. “The safety car didn’t really help me,” the Scot said, “because I still had a lot of life left in my super-softs, but it didn’t really hurt, either. After that it was a case of managing the gap to Rosberg, looking after my tyres and bringing the car home. I was in clear air for the final part of the race.” Adrian Sutil took eighth, behind Rosberg, to give Force India a double points finish, while the battle-scarred Massa and Perez completed the scorers. Justifiably, the Brazilian was still incensed about earlier events. “I tried talking to Lewis after the race,” he said, “but he just walked away without answering. Hewon’t listen and doesn’t seem to learn.” The Brazilian subsequently took the opportunity to tell Hamilton exactly what he thought just as his nemesis was about to start a TV interview.
“I think Lewis’s recovery underlined what a great driver he is,” Whitmarsh said. Perhaps so, but that greatness might have been amplified had his slide down the field not been so carelessly self-inflicted. ■
FIA Formula OneWorld Championship, round 14/19, Singapore GP POS DRIVER NAT CAR-ENGINE TIME
1 Sebastian Vettel GER Red Bull-Renault
1h 59m 06.757s
2 Jenson Button GBR McLaren-Mercedes
3 Mark Webber
AUS Red Bull-Renault
4 Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari
5 Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren-Mercedes
6 Paul di Resta
GBR Force India-Mercedes
7 Nico Rosberg
GER Mercedes GP
8 Adrian Sutil
GER Force India-Mercedes
9 Felipe Massa
10 Sergio Pérez
11 Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams-Cosworth
12 Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso-Ferrari
13 Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams-Cosworth
14 Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber-Ferrari
15 Bruno Senna
16 Heikki Kovalainen FIN Team Lotus-Renault
17 Vitaly Petrov
18 Jérôme D’Ambrosio BEL Marussia Virgin-Cosworth +2 laps 19 Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT-Cosworth +4 laps 20 Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT-Cosworth +4 laps 21 Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 laps/accident R Jarno Trulli ITA Team Lotus-Renault 47 laps/gearbox R Michael Schumacher GER Mercedes GP 28 laps/accident R Timo Glock GER Marussia Virgin-Cosworth 9 laps/accident Fastest lap: Button, 1m 48.454s (104.63mph). Winner’s average speed: 96.81mph. Lap leaders: 1-61 Vettel.
8 Schumacher no time 9 Sutil no time 10 Di Resta no time 11 Pérez 1m 47.616s 12 Barrichello 1m 48.082s 13 Maldonado 1m 48.270s 14 Buemi 1m 48.634s 15 Senna 1m 48.662s 16 Alguersuari 1m 49.862s 17 Kobayashi no time 18 Petrov 1m 49.835s 19 Kovalainen 1m 50.948s 20 Trulli 1m 51.012s
DRIVERS POS DRIVER
1 Sebastian Vettel
3 Jenson Button
2 Fernando Alonso
4 Mark Webber
5 Lewis Hamilton
6 Felipe Massa
7 Nico Rosberg
8 Michael Schumacher 52 9 Vitaly Petrov 34 10 Nick Heidfeld 34
Frankly, this is just plain weird...
22 D’Ambrosio 1m 52.363s 23 Ricciardo 1m 52.404s 24 Liuzzi* 1m 52.810s
* five place grid penalty for causing collision in Italian GP
CONSTRUCTORS POS CONSTRUCTOR PTS
1 Red Bull Racing
2 Vodafone McLaren 353 3 Scuderia Ferrari 268 4 Mercedes GP Petronas 114 5 Lotus Renault GP 70 7 Force India F1 Team 48 6 Sauber F1 Team 36 8 Scuderia Toro Rosso 29 9 AT&T Williams 5 10 Team Lotus 0
Lotus Team 10
CanVettel score one point to wrap up this year’s title race? (Hint:yes he can)
JAP ANESE GRAND PRIX
OCT OBER 9
Now turn over to read MN’s no-nonsense driver ratings