Singapore Grand Prix Recap

251188-mark-webber-fernando-alonso-valencia“Alonso is probably more supportive of Webber’s racing career than Vettel and Newey are, atleast judging by his mechanical reliability…”

Hot, sweaty, tired, desperately thirsty. The emotions of the drivers following this 2 hour long epic in Singapore are undoubtedly pinging on redline, but the story remains the same. Sebastian Vettel stands once again on the top step of the podium, his third consecutive win this season, matching his third consecutive win in Singapore. At this point we might as well say it; short of Adrian Newey quitting the team, Christian Horner going to the big house for drug charges, and Sebastian Vettel taking up a hobby of excess drinking – the championship is nearly clinched. While Vettel may not be the best Formula 1 driver ever, he is certainly the smartest, most calculated and has the best car of this day and age – cough *Prost* cough. Care to disagree? Vettel was lapping a full two seconds per lap faster than Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes after the Safety Car, pulling away to a 15 second gap in about 6 laps. So congratulations Red Bull #1, we sincerely hope next year’s changes even out the playing field.

Overall the racing was sporadic, bordering on dull at points. Fernando Alonso did impress once again, making a jump from 7th to 3rd place off the start, to finish on the second podium step. Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa was not so lucky, finishing a distant 6th after a poor start set him back behind the midfield. Unluckier still was Vettel’s teammate and future teammate. Mark Webber showed good pace throughout the race until lap 60 (of 61) when an engine issue caused him to lose all power. Webber retired on lap 61. His replacement, young Daniel Ricciardo locked the front right tire very early on and plowed into a barrier, ending his run and bringing out the safety car.

Kimi Raikkonen clinched third position on the podium after a poor qualifying and while suffering from a pinched spinal nerve. His teammate, who out-qualified him handily, retired due to engine issues. LotusRomain Grosjean pitted and subsequently retired after engineers spotted a pneumatic failure in the engine valve system of the car. Grosjean was quite verbally displeased as the radio messages made evident, and wasn’t the only driver to come across a little fierce on the 2-way. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton both had tense moments of discussion with engineers, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

McLaren had a moment of glory where tire strategy had put Jenson Button on third position and Sergio Perez firmly within the points  with just 9 laps to go, but the quickly degrading compound forced both cars back quite a ways from the desired third spot. Earlier on Paul di Resta made a massive show of skill as he nursed his first set of prime tires nearly half the race before pitting. The Scot hadn’t made it out of Q1 in yesterday’s qualifying and looked to be in good standing until the safety car disrupted his tire strategy. He ended up crashing with a handful of laps to go. di Resta keeps showing impressive skill and brilliant control that are deserving of a top drive, but for nearly every great drive there is an equally poor showing – like Monza’s lap 1 retirement. Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg remained in the points finishing ninth right behind Perez. These two drivers may have uncertain futures, as Perez may be out of a McLaren drive for next year and Hulkenberg may be in line for the upgrade.

Amidst all this talk of silly seasons, team swapping, and one sided championships, it’s sometimes hard to see what makes this sport so unique and mystical. For me, I saw that essence return once again at race’s end when Alonso gave Webber a ride back to the paddock after his Red Bull began sporting flames. I’m sure it’s a health and safety nightmare each time one of these “ride alongs” happens, but it’s damn good to see those two in good spirits. The comradeship, that exclusive fraternity of F1 drivers exudes such a powerful message when men fierce competitors of every nationality can chum up and be so supporting of eachother. Who knows, Alonso is probably more of a support of Webber’s racing career than Vettel and Newey may be, atleast judging by his mechanical reliability…

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About zdoell

Graduate of Ithaca College, rowing coach, car fanatic.

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