23/09/2012

Singapore GP - Sunday Analysis

Race Result: di Resta 4th (12 points), Hulkenberg 14th, Karthikeyan DNF.

It was a cracking race for Sahara Force India, an absolutely flawless drive from Paul di Resta saw the team take 12 points this weekend.

Paul started in 6th place and got a great start, overtaking Fernando Alonso into 5th. Unfortunately the Ferrari driver got back past pretty quickly. For most of the race, Paul remained in 6th, with Webber in close company. Di Resta's pace was good however and he was slowly pulling away from those behind. The Scottish driver ended up benefiting from retirements to Hamilton (gearbox) & the impressive Maldonado (hydraulics).

I should say here that in my Saturday analysis i said that i didn't think Pastor Maldonado would be able to retain front running pace over a race distance - actually, i was wrong. He was doing a great job until his retirement, SFI got a little lucky with that one. However don't take anything away from Paul - he didn't put a foot wrong and maintained his concentration in the heat to secure his best finish in Formula One.

Nico Hulkenberg opted to start on the soft tyres, against what most others were trying. It was pretty clear Nico was attempting a two-stop strategy which, on paper, was quicker. With him starting P11, it was probably the right thing to try. The German got a decent start, just losing one place to be P12 after the opening lap. Surprisingly, he managed to show great pace and keep up with those ahead of him on the super-soft tyres.

Nico was looking like he'd finish in the points early-on, and the first safety car saw him up in P5! However a second safety car, almost straight away, really ruined Nico's race - from that moment, points weren't really possible. He had a good battle with Webber & the two Sauber drivers in the latter stages, actually making contact with the two Sauber drivers too! The incident with Perez was just a racing incident, no fault anywhere. As for the incident with Kobayashi; in my opinion Nico probably should have given Kamui a little more room. It wasn't a major error from Nico though so no penalty was required. Both Kamui & Nico had to pit for a third time after this incident ...

... both drivers came out on the super-soft tyres. This allowed Nico to set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:51.033. Kobayashi did the second fastest lap, a 1:51.690. This means that Nico did the fastest lap by a huge margin of 0.657 seconds! That's very impressive. However, when it later emerged that Nico did that lap on a used set of super-soft tyres - that's absolutely mind blowing! I don't posses the vocabulary to convey just how impressive that is ... 0.657 seconds up on used tyres; the most impressive thing i've seen all season. Just wow!

So let's see how the points scored today effects the championship:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts) (+10)
6) Sauber (101) (+1)
7) Force India (75) (+12)
8) Williams (54) (+0)
Note: numbers in green represent the points scored this weekend.

For P5:
Pre-Singapore: an average of 9 points more than Mercedes needed each race.
Post-Singapore: an average of 10.17 points more than Mercedes needed each race.

For P6:
Pre-Singapore: an average of 5.29 points more than Sauber needed each race.
Post-Singapore: an average of 4.33 points more than Sauber needed each race.

Without a lot of luck, P5 looks impossible now. However P6 now seems realistic, it just goes to show how much one weekend can change things. I stick with what i said pre-Singapore though, the team really need Perez to have poor races for the remainder of the season, because when he finds the sweet spot with the tyres, he has the ability to push for wins/podiums.

It was an encouraging race for Sahara Force India though, good pace and a good result to match! The last word on the team for today is: look who was spotted sitting at the back of the garage post-race.

(Karun Chandhok's father/FMSCI president, Vicky Chandhok, at Sahara Force India post-race)

Note: this DOES NOT mean Karun will be driving for Force India next season!

Narain Karthikeyan lost out to his teammate, Pedro de la Rosa, at the start of the race. But the Indian found himself 22nd after incidents to other cars. Unfortunately he didn't have the best first stint and slowly began to slip away from Pedro. Narain Karthikeyan would eventually retire from the race, and cause a safety car, when he slid into the barriers. Initially it looked like a driver error, but actually an overheating problem that caused a "long break pedal" which meant that the Indian simply couldn't stop - an accident which was entirely not his fault.

On reflection, Narain will be happy. He showed good pace this weekend and did a stunning qualifying lap on Saturday. Let's see if he can make it three out of three (beating Pedro in qualifying) at the next race in Japan.

(Narain and Pedro in deep discussion post-race)

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