Lewis seemed to have gained his winning ways back, and this could possibly have put him back into championship contention. Going into the race around the Marina Bay Street Circuit Fernando Alonso had a 37 point lead over Hamilton in the championship and almost had the luckiest Ferrari since the Schumacher era. Alonso has been the most consistent so far with only one non points finish caused by a certain Frenchman trying to fly a car. The Frenchman in question, Grosjean, was back to racing after his ban so could he hopefully have some success for a change? Either way, onto the only night race in the calendar.
Speaking of the Frenchman Grosjean, he set the fastest time in Q1 guaranteeing himself a place in Q2 alongside his teammate Raikkonen who also posted an impressive first session time. Q1 saw the familiar faces of HRT, Marussia and Caterham dropping out at the first qualifying hurdle. The less usual faces of Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna dropped while the Torro Rosso pair made it through to Q2.
The second round saw Maldonado, Di Resta and Grosjean sneak into the top 10 ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, Massa’s Ferrari, the other Sauber of Perez the two Toro Rosso’s and surprisingly Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi had been one of the fastest in Q1 but couldn’t up his pace to get into the top 10.
The final session saw Lewis top the time sheets to claim another pole position. Pastor Maldonado shocked everyone by getting second place with Vettel not too far behind. Another consistent showing for Button and Alonso getting 4th and 5th respectively and Paul Di Resta putting in an excellent lap to secure him 6th place ahead of Webber, Grosjean and the two Mercedes. The crafty men at Mercedes didn’t set a time in Q3 which allowed them to effectively choose tyres and their strategy for the race.
Unlike most races of late, drivers managed to avoid each other. Alonso had a bad start which is unusual for him, he’s normally rock solid on his starts. Vettel on the other hand had a great start jumping Maldonado early on lap 1. Button as well managed to get passed Maldonado by half way round the first lap. Lewis was happy in the lead until disaster struck when his gearbox failed him on lap 23. Apparently the team knew about this fault but didn’t act on it. Would it have been worth suffering the 5 place grid penalty so that they had a working gearbox system? Who knows what McLaren were thinking. I don’t. The next most ‘exciting’ thing to happen was Karthikeyan driving his front right wheel into a wall on lap 33 causing a safety car period. In this time behind the safety car we saw many more things occur. Maldonado retired with a hydraulic problem 4 laps later and a further lap on just before the re-start, Button nearly ran into the rear of Vettel as he slowed unexpectedly round a right hander. The commentary team’s slight overreaction was very high pitched to say the least. However someone who did succeed in using their car as a battering ram was Micheal Schumacher. Last year he hit Sergio Perez, this time his target was set for Torro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne. As the safety car had pulled in, it was almost immediately sent back out after debris was flung everywhere. How come the most experienced man on the grid has had so many accidents this year? Is he leaving F1 for good at the end of this season? Only he knows and maybe he will tell us all soon.
After the second safety car period was over we perhaps saw some of the more incredible driving from Felipe Massa whilst he made a rather interesting overtaking manoeuvre stick. Massa was on the softer tyre, and after getting a decent run on Senna out of turn 12, he dived down the inside making contact with the Williams, causing his Ferrari to almost lose control, but he managed to hold it before turn 13 and more importantly end up in front of Senna. With the various stoppages for safety cars the race exceeded the 2 hour mark so was stopped 2 laps short of the full race distance, which means that all the drivers still get full points and the complexity of 1/2 points doesn’t need to be addressed. After Vettel’s second win of the season he brings himself within 29 points of championship leader Fernando Alonso who is sitting on 194 points. A notable mention goes to Paul Di Resta who managed to get his Force India over the line in 4th place completing a good run of results for the team so far this season.
Now the bit you’ve all been waiting for..
Driver of the Day
A slightly odd choice you might say, but considering he started 13th on the grid, a puncture sent him to the back of the pack and then he managed to finish in 8th and grabbed himself 4 points. I think that is worthy of the award.
Paul Di Resta
He kept himself out of trouble from starting 6th, and with the retirements of Hamilton and Maldonado ahead of him, he finished a strong 4th.
Felipe Massa on Bruno Senna
Could it have been anything else? Nerves of steel and the drifting skills of a rally driver kept him from an accident and it earned him a place in the process. Massa gets 2 well deserved awards from me today.
The “Oh Dear” award
He has had a rather bad season so far, and almost forgetting to brake going into a sharp right turn was a little bit silly if you ask me. Vergne was running strong inside the top 10 and his chances of a points finish were literally shunted away from him.
Commentary Quote of the Day
“the last thing you need is a problem with your nuts”
Directed at the Caterham team for not fitting the tyre correctly, which caused much muffled laughter in everyone but David.
Next up in the calendar is the legendary Suzuka circuit in Japan. The place which once used to be the last race in the season is now race 14. The action kicks off on Friday 5th October with the race on Sunday 7th October.
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This article was first posted on September 29, 2012