27/09/2011

Singapore GP, Marina Bay – A night to remember

The spectacular only night race on the calendar was indeed a night to remember for all the fans. The glitz & glamour that the weekend brings along with roaring engines is worth a watch. The race was a great example of strategy, over-takes, small mistakes. Sebastian Vettel inched closer to his second title, after we started on pole and finished as the winner (just needs one point to win the title). He was followed by Button at P2 whose superb form continues and Webber at P3.

Here is the detailed report of the whole weekend:

FP1:
The morning session or in this case the afternoon session had a delayed start due to loose kerbs on various turns. After 30 minutes of wait the cars finally roared out in the fading light. The weather remained dry, it was hot and humid as usual. The session was red flagged twice, first when again Kovalianen’s car caught fire, this time due to brake issue and secondly when Massa ran wide and dislodged one of the kerbs. In the end, it was Hamilton who topped the time-sheets with Vettel & Webber behind. Both the Force Indians had a good start with Sutil ending at P7 & Di Resta at P9. Karthikeyan was back behind his HRT car in preparation to Indian GP, he finished at P24.

FP2:
The first proper session which began under the lights, I must say the over-view of the track under lights looks pretty awesome. The session was relatively uneventful but towards the end Buemi trying all his might to get a decent lap, brushed the wall which ended his session. By the end, as per the normal routine Vettel ended as P1, with Alonso behind him & Hamilton behind Alsono. Again, the Force India showed a competitive car as Sutil ended at P7 & Di Resta at P13. Di Resta sat out for most part of the session as the team repaired his car after some hydraulics issue popped up.

FP3:
Another day, it was supposed to be a wet day but as we all know it’s stupid to depend on weather prediction. The session went off quite well without any accidents as the team took a cautious approach before Qualifying. This time it was Webber who ended at P1 with Button at P2and Vettel at P3. Both the Force Indians did well again, with Sutil ending at P10 & Di Resta at P13.

After all the session it was all looking that RBR will continue with their qualifying top performance. Perhaps all battle would be for maybe P2 & P3. As for Force India, I was very happy with the times as normally they haven’t done that well in Singapore but double Q3 was well within reach.

Qualifying:
Q1:
Lights were on, all set for the qualifying to begin. The main aim as usual was o go through to Q2 though all knew that 6 of the 7 places were fixed with only place where a mid-field team could go out. This time it was Petrov who bowed out of Q1, I was surprised a bit, ironically his team-mate Senna set the time to kick Petrov out. The rest were all the drivers from the new team, though all qualified under 107% rule. The session was topped by Vettel followed by Button & Hamilton. Both the Force Indians comfortably made it through to Q2.

Q2:
The remaining 17 cars looked to book their place in the top 10 and Singapore being a street circuit, qualifying in top 10 meant all the more important. There was a brief red flag in the session when Kobayashi flew over a kerb and hit the wall, his session ended there and then. By the end of the session, it was once again Vettel on top with Button 7 Webber behind him. For Force India it was a great session, as I was expecting both the cars made it to Q3 for the first time in the season and first time since Canada 2010. Paul had to fend off Perez who pushed him at P11 but Paul improved on his last lap and pushed Perez off.

Q3:
This session was mainly a Vettel VS the rest battle as he was untouchable, even his team-mate Webber fell a bit short. Yes, for the 11th time this season Vettel rose and got the pole position, 14th consecutive time for the Red Bull’s. Behind him was his team-mate Webber at P2 & Button at P3. Both the Force Indians & Schumacher chose not to run in order to save tyres, perhaps a wise choice looking ahead for the race. An interesting line-up as it was RBR-RBR, McL-McL, Fer-Fer, Merc-Merc & FI-FI, all team-mates side by side in the top 10.

I was overly satisfied by the performance of Force India as they managed to get to Q3, they have come a long way from where they were at the start, for the race the expectation was same a double point finish. As for the winner, it was all the same Vettel to come as a winner with a battle for the P2 and so on.

Race:
The lights just lit up the track, it was looking beautiful. This is the 4th year of the race and this has already become team’s, fan’s & driver’s one of the favorite track. The weather remained dry, and on top of that it was hot & humid. The start went fairly well, with not much accidents or run-offs. Vettel took the lead soon, only looser was Hamilton who went quite a back. Both Force India made a decent start staying among the points. Then came the move from Hamilton over Massa which created loads of headlines post race. Both lost places, to the extent Hamilton got a drive-through penalty as well.

The pit stops begun, to everyone’s surprise Di Resta was at P3 and was running well but soon had to give off and go in for the tyre change. From then on the race went smoothly, both Force India were running in points, possible double point finish was looking all the more. The move of the day was when Webber passed Alonso, sort of a repeat of Spa. Singapore GP and no Safety Car? I cannot happen, yes the SC was out when Schumacher touched Perez at the back and flew off and crashed on the wall. He admitted his mistake post race. This SC changed the complexion of the race. The SC helped Di Resta to get to P5 while Sutil was at P7, a double point was pretty much fixed for the team barring they make any mistake.

SC went in and the race began, Vettel started to get a comfortable lead but Button had other ideas who was fighting hard to get close to him. Hamilton was charging up the field as he passed Perez, Sutil, Rosberg & Di Resta to get to P5. The post SC, race went smoothly with not many incidents but there some great over-taking moves with and without the help of DRS. In the end it was Vettel who drove well from start to the end finished as the winner with yet another superb drive from Button behind him and Webber behind Button. Alonso was the best of Ferrari at P4. Both Force Indian finished in points, there first double finish since Australia 2011 with Di Resta achieving his career best P6 & Sutil at P8, 12 points in the bag.

I was very-very happy with Force India’s performance, good run in the Practice session then a double Q3 and finishing off with a double point finish, nothing more to ask for. A lead of 12 points from Sauber and 22 points behind a struggling Lotus Renault, gives us an exciting CC battle for P5-P6-P7. Even in DC, Sutil is closing in to the Top 10 with Di Resta not behind by much. As for the battle for the top, Red Bull are certain to clinch the CC while Vettel just a point away from clinching the DC. Only battle is to watch for the P2 position in both the championship. Next up is Japan, Suzuka in two weeks time where we may see Red Bull & Vettel clinching the top title for second time in a row.

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