Singapore GP: Winners and Losers

Date published: September 26 2011

It was Michael Schumacher’s turn to have the ‘R.Kelly moment’ in Singapore, while Seb got tantalisingly close to his goal…

It was Michael Schumacher’s turn to have the ‘R.Kelly moment’ in Singapore, while Seb got tantalisingly close to his goal.

Star of the Race
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 1st

The rate at which Sebastian Vettel pulled away from the rest of the field at the start of the GP was astonishing. It’s true to say that Jenson Button hadn’t done any full tanks running and might have been erring on the cautious side but even so, it was a masterful demonstration. By Lap 6 he had an 8.2 second lead. He may not be World Champion, but with only one point required and the next race being at the spiritual home of the Red Bull chassis – Suzuka, full of Adrian Newey-friendly fast corners, he can start ordering the new trophy cabinet.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 34, Mark Webber, Red Bull on Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
That’s two times in three races Mark has got the OMR award for a pass on Fernando Alonso. This time it wasn’t a thundering wheel-to-wheel charge down into Eau Rouge, it was a cheeky little dart going into Turn 10 after the re-start. It seemed to catch Alonso completely unawares, a beautiful piece of timing. He’d made a pretty good move on Fernando to get past at Turn 15 in the first stint of the race, but at that stage Alonso’s rear tyres were gone. This time round they were far better matched.
It was a good race from Webber after yet another poor start. Mark reported that he was having problems with his KERS again in the race. When they get that fixed they might have a half-decent car.

Winners
Jenson Button, McLaren, 2nd
In Monza, there was a bit of good fortune about Jenson’s second place. This race he earned everything he got. After a bit of good-humoured banter with Mark about the start, Jenson did indeed romp away into a P2 he never looked like giving up, once it became clear that the Ferrari was consuming its SuperSoft tyres almost as fast as a Mercedes. He got close to Vettel at the end and was slightly narked about getting held up by the Williams backmakers, but Sebastian would have had more than enough to hold out.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 4th.
He started fifth and he finished fourth, so that’s not too shabby a result. Of course Ferrari were hoping for slightly more from a two-time Singapore GP winner whose Friday long-run pace was good, but it wasn’t to be.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 5th
A great comeback drive from Lewis Hamilton who made a silly mistake while following Massa. Eddie Jordan thought that it was a racing accident when he clipped Massa’s back tyre, and it was; but if you ruin someone’s race by your mistake then you really should get a penalty. So, no quibbles there. (Let’s see if that’s applied for the rest of the year. In fact at the end of the year the FIA should review all the races and the decisions made for that year and see if they have a degree of consistency across the 19 races).

Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil, Force India, 6th and 8th
An unspectacular, steady drive from Paul DiResta – exactly what the team wanted on a day when they cemented their position above Toro Rosso and Sauber in the constructors’ table. Full credit to Adrian Sutil who played the team game and let Di Resta past to maximise their strategy advantage

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 7th
Nico Rosberg was a lucky boy to escape any kind of sanction for his opening lap run across the chicane. He carried so much momentum through that corner as a result. Looking at it again a few times, Massa left him a lot of room, but if he’d have braked and used the circuit like everyone else felt obliged to do, he’d have filtered in behind Lewis Hamilton and probably dropped more places. What I couldn’t quite understand was that Race Control told Mercedes that it was okay because he’d given a place back to Massa. The team were able to radio this through to Rosberg straight away. Surely that’s the stewards’ job not Race Control? Derek Daley (driver steward at the Italian GP) said after Monza that Race Control had taken the initiative in informing Ross Brawn about Schumi’s driving, when most people thought it would be the stewards taking the initiative. Has Charlie Whiting got an extra-cosey relationship with Ross Brawn and the Mercedes team or has Ross paid for the 100mb broadband pipe to get decisions faster?
Nico’s forceful shove on Perez also escaped sanction. As they say with football penalties… “I’ve seen them given.”

Sergio Perez, Sauber, 10th
Considering he took a fair old battering from the two Mercs, Sergio did a great job to manage his tyres and bring what was left of his car home.

Losers

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, DNF
Now I know that Michael’s been making a few uncharacteristic errors this year, but I can’t help thinking there’s more to the impact with Perez than meets the eye. It’s very rare that a driver gets it so wrong that they get catapulted over the back of another car. We had the incident with Kovalainen and Webber in Valencia, but that was with two very different paced cars. The other thing that makes me naturally suspicious is that Perez had just been done over by Nico Rosberg who pushed him wide and then took the place. So there could well be an element of red mist on Perez’s behalf. He looked to me, to be veering from his usual line when he lifted early for the corner. The stewards gave Michael a reprimand but I’d only be satisfied that was the right decision if I could see an overlay of Perez’s throttle traces and the previous 20-odd lines he took into that corner.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 9th
The degree of Felipe Massa’s reaction to the events of Sunday are a reflection of how serious/precarious his position is at Ferrari. The final race of the 2008 season must seem a long long time ago right now. His problems started in Q3 on Saturday when he started blocking Lewis Hamilton’s attempts to get past him. He was already so close to the back of Fernando Alonso that when Button started to back them both up, he couldn’t pass his team leader. Instead of moving across to block Hamilton’s lines he should have let him past and dropped back.
In the race Lewis’s touch wasn’t a poor overtaking move, it was just a needless error. He paid the price for it with an early stop and a drive-through penalty that put him 19th behind Massa in 17th at one stage. The fact that Hamilton could then convert that to a P5 finish and he could only struggle to P9 says a lot about Massa’s skill and motivation. Had that been Alonso then he would have taken the Italia 150 through to P5.
Pushing and shouting at Lewis Hamilton after the race when he’s doing TV interviews doesn’t back up his assertion that it’s Lewis who has a ‘problem with his mind’.

We Love Eddie Jordan Fan Club
Eddie’s bandwagon keeps on growing with Brits staying behind after races to chant “Ed-die, Ed-die” through the fence during the red button forum after the race.