As formula one came under the dazzling spotlights of Singapore for the third time, it was crunch time for Ferrari and Fernando Alonso – be the best or forfeit this years championship. The team stood up to the challenge.
It was claimed by everyone in the paddock that this was to be Red Bull’s race. It was a track suited to the team and if the practice sessions were anything to go by, this was Sebastian Vettel’s for the taking.
But as the race weekend got underway, the cracks started to show and with Vettel failing to clinch pole in qualifying, it was Fernando Alonso that headed up the grid in Singapore’s late night spectacle.
Today’s race really showed how important track position is on a track like Singapore’s. Throughout I think it’s fair to say that Vettel was faster than Alonso, but just didn’t ever quite get the opportunity to pass. So in a way I suppose move of the race has to go to Alonso for his lunge across the track at the start of the Grand Prix, preventing the fast starting Vettel from taking the lead.
Some strong laps from Alonso, a great strategy from Ferrari and an admittedly poorly planned pitstop from Red Bull won the race for Alonso and Ferrari today. They’ve proven that at last they have a car capable of winning this championship. I’m also pleased to say that despite some howling mistakes this season, Alonso managed to prove what a great driver he is with a stunning drive from start to finish in horribly humid conditions. He never really looked in trouble, but full credit to Vettel who kept with him to the end and made the last couple of laps edge of the seat stuff.
But of course there was a bigger race going on than just Alonso and Vettel, with the biggest moment of the grand prix taking place between Hamilton and Webber. Now this is a tough one to call. It was after the second re-start that Lewis Hamilton saw his opportunity to pass Mark Webber and a fantastic move it ALMOST was. I think he will seriously regret his actions looking back. If he had squeezed just a few centimetres less on the apex of the corner, he could have stayed in the race.
But of course that’s not what happened and Hamilton was knocked out again. I do have great sympathy for him in both the last two races. He’s been taken out by trying to give us a race, by actually trying to overtake on track rather than in the pits. But at the same time, it’s been a bit of a return of the original Lewis Hamilton, the one that would take risks and go for the over-ambitious moves. The problem being that these moves can either bring great rewards or complete disasters. Lewis couldn’t afford another DNF and it has to be said he’s now fighting a losing battle for this years championship.
Of course this did also affect the championship leader Webber’s race. It’s been found out after the race that the Red Bull’s tyre was in fact damaged heavily with Christian Horner claiming it could’ve only done another half mile. A lucky escape for the Aussie.
A driver that did shine today, all be it in the final stages, was Robert Kubica. I was extremely impressed with his late moves and particularly clean overtaking style. Yes, he was on new tyres, but all the same, he showed a side of himself that’s been missing for a while – the potential world champion.
Speaking of world champions, or at least former one’s, it was another dreadful day for Michael Schumacher. The German has never driven the twisting streets of Singapore before and it really showed today, spending the entire race seconds off the pace. He’s still a racer as his altercation with Nick Heidfeld (who seemed to be getting into trouble with everyone) showed, even if it did result in a broken wing for the seven-times world champion.
And as if all the action wasn’t enough, Heikki Kovalainen decided to have the biggest engine blowout I’ve seen in years. You certainly had to feel sorry for the Fin when even the marshall’s wouldn’t put the fie out, instead giving him the extinguisher and asking him to get on with the job, what a bizarre scene!
Today’s race was in my opinion the best we have seen from Singapore. In the past I have always enjoyed the spectacle of the cars racing at night, but this has been marred by a lack of action. Not this year though. Action packed and one of the tenses endings of the season. This was a brilliant Singapore GP.
Despite the DNF of Hamilton, the championship is still very tight and all 5 down to Button are still in contention. In fact there’s only a race win between them, so it’s all to play for.
But my personal tip? With that Ferrari back on fine form and with a firm rear-gunner in Massa, I wouldn’t put it past Alonso turning this around and becoming world champion for a third time. It’s going to e a tense final 4 races!
Pictures from F1-Pics.com