Victory for Vettel, agony for Hamilton in drama packed Singapore GP
23 September, 2012
Sep.23 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel powered to his second victory of the 2012 season, as he won the drama packed Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Circuit Street Circuit while pole winner Lewis Hamilton coasted to a halt with a gearbox problem just short of the halfway mark after leading from the start.
It was Vettel’s second win at the floodlit venue, and the 25 points earned promoting him to second in the championship standings. On the podium, the German dedicated his victory to the Professor Sid Watkins, the sport’s pre-eminent medical man, who passed away last week.
Interviewed by podium MC Eddie Jordan, Vettel summed up his evening: “I thinks it’s one of the toughest races of the year. The circuit is a killer and it’s so bumpy and so long. We benefited from Lewis’ failure, I saw some oil drop from his car a few laps before, and all in all we had a good race all weekend.”
“I’m just incredibly happy and proud to win it. I’d like to dedicate the win to Sid Watkins, I think he’s one of the biggest reasons why we enjoy ourselves every week so a big thank you to him.”
“Anything can happen in this race and it’s a lot of fun to watch but we just have to keep pushing now so we finish ahead of those guys come the end of the season,” concluded the reigning world champion.
Consolation for the McLaren squad was Jenson Button’s drive to second place. The Briton was solid all evening, but never really able to threaten the leading Red Bull. It was a sweet return to the podium for Button who suffered a similar DNF to Hamilton two weeks earlier at Monza.
The only ‘big’ moment for Button came when he nearly slammed into the back Vettel while the pair followed the safety car. He quipped to Vettel after the race: “I almost wiped you out.”
He added afterwards, “It was a pretty tough two hours for us. Sebastian accelerated and braked for the right handed. I didn’t expect that, I hit the brakes, locked up and I just missed the back of your car. But we got through it. I’m reasonably happy with second. I want to win, but you can’t win them all. For us as a team to have another failure this weekend was tough, but the important thing is we have a good car. Every race we go to, we have a chance of winning and that’s important for us.”
Once again the big winner on the night was world championship leader Fernando Alonso who bagged a handsome haul of points, finishing third after starting fifth on the grid and thus leaving Singapore with a healthy 29 points lead over Vettel in the standings.
“It’s one of the best tracks and we enjoy driving here. The atmosphere is fantastic and it was a fun race again. In Monza it was Lewis winning and Sebastian retiring and here it’s Lewis retiring and Sebastian winning so as long as that keeps happening and I pick up points along the way I’ll be happy,” commented Alonso.
The race started without incident, but on lap 34 Narain Karthikeyan slammed the wall at Turn 18 and the now traditional safety car period ensued and duly concertina-ed the field accordingly, but with no real impact to the leaders.
Not long after the restart Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes, rear ended the Toro Rosso of luckless Jean Eric Vergne. It was a big one, and reminiscent to Schumacher’s similar retirement last year at the same venue, but fortunately the cars slid down the slip road and out of harms way. Another safety car period ensued.
Schumacher explained, “After the safety car I broke a little early, then the car didn’t accelerate and then I just went straight on the brakes and it locked up. The accident was unavoidable. I feel sorry for Jean-Eric and for his team but we need to find out what happened now.”
Back to the sharp end of proceedings, it was a big night for Paul Di Resta and Force India. The Scot impressing with a strong drive to fourth place and closing in rapidly on Alonso’s Ferrari and a podium spot. Alas the race was curtailed by two laps and it was too much too late, but nevertheless it was Di Resta’s best F1 result to date.
The result crowned a top notch performance, at the sport’s toughest venues, which began with a good run in qualifying 24 hours earlier.
Di Resta said, “I’ve always said I want to win races. Today’s been a great result but I do want to go forward and hopefully we can before the end of the season. To get a good start and maintain position and then just at the end to push a Ferrari who’s pushing for the championship is brilliant for us.”
“Our nearest rivals didn’t score so it’s really special for us and we’ll enjoy it tonight. The concentration is the most difficult thing at this race and I try to focus and make sure I’m in the best physical shape to drive my car. This is my own journey but with people’s help it could get even better,” added Di Resta.
Unlike his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg stayed out of trouble and turned 10th on the grid to fifth place two hours later. The German spent most of his race fending off the Lotus pair of Kimi raikkonen and Romain Grosjean who finished sixth and seventh respectively. Grosjean allowing his championship contending teammate through after instructions from the team’s pit gantry.
After a dismal qualifying performance, which saw him start 13th, things got even worse for Felipe Massa as he suffered a first lap puncture on his Ferrari. But the misfortune appeared to inspire the under fire Brazilian who proceeded to give one of his gutsiest displays in memory, including a jaw dropping duel with fellow countryman Bruno Senna in the Williams.
Massa recovered well to take a well earned eighth place.
Daniel Ricciardo gave his shares a good boost with ninth place for Toro Rosso after a late race battle with fellow Australian, and elder statesman, Mark Webber in the Red Bull. The younger of the two Aussies prevailed.
Hamilton said, “I’m OK now. It was gutting when the car stopped, I was cruising. I was managing the gap and could have pushed more, I had the pace. I think today would have been an easy win.”
Full report on Hamilton DNF here>>>
Also suffering a huge dollop of disappointment was Pastor Maldonado who qualified second and looked good for a podium. But during the first safety car period he received a call from the Williams team informing him of a hydraulic problem and to retire the car.
The Venezuelan summed up his emotions, “It was a very difficult weekend, we were managing quite well. We expected to be competitive in the race and then we got a hydraulic problem. The start was OK, but at the first corner on old tyres I ran wide. I was running well. I’m confident for the next race, we definitely have the potential for fighting for the best places.”
A special mention must be made of Timo Glock’s fine run to 12th place from 20th on the grid in the Marussia. The German enjoys Marina Bay Circuit and made the most of the high attrition and safety car periods to take some big scalps along the way, including their biggest rivals Caterham and finishing aheadof a Sauber and a Force India when the flag fell.
Glock reflected on his best finish of the season thus far, “In general, we knew we had a strong car here and I’m very happy to drive here. I love this track. My target was to be as close to Heikki in first stint but then I pushed too much and kissed the wall a bit. When the safety car came out, it mixed it up and I was right in the battle again. I then realised I was quicker than Heikki. The second safety car saved us on the strategy because I had spent 34 laps on that set of tyres.”
Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit – Sunday, 23 September 2012
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||59||Winner||3||25|
|2||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||59||+8.9 secs||4||18|
|3||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||59||+15.2 secs||5||15|
|4||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||59||+19.0 secs||6||12|
|5||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||59||+34.7 secs||10||10|
|6||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||59||+35.7 secs||12||8|
|7||10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||59||+36.6 secs||8||6|
|8||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||59||+42.8 secs||13||4|
|9||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||59||+45.8 secs||15||2|
|10||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||59||+47.1 secs||7||1|
|11||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||59||+50.6 secs||14|
|12||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||59||+91.9 secs||20|
|13||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||59||+97.1 secs||17|
|14||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||59||+99.4 secs||11|
|15||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||59||+107.9 secs||19|
|16||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||59||+132.8 secs||21|
|17||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||58||+1 Lap||24|
|18||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||57||+2 Lap||22|
|19||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||57||+2 Lap||18|
|Ret||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||38||+21 Laps||16|
|Ret||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||38||+21 Laps||9|
|Ret||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||36||+23 Laps||2|
|Ret||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||30||+29 Laps||23|
|Ret||4||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||22||+37 Laps||1|
Note: De la Rosa and Senna dropped five grid spots for unscheduled gearbox changes. Pic will have 20s added to his race time for passing under red flags in FP3.
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