Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix
By Steve Aibel
There has been an Awakening! Have you felt it!
I often refer to Sebastian Vettel as Red 5, the famous x-wing fighter that destroyed the Death Star in the original Star Wars film. Red 5 stood alone when no one was left. Sebastian Vettel is doing much the same this season. He is the only driver to taste victory other than Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.
The Singapore Grand Prix weekend started with a huge surprise. No Mercedes driver on pole position, which was taken by Sebastian Vettel. This was the first pole taken by a non-Mercedes driver since 2014 when Felipe Massa took pole in Austria.
Even a bigger surprise was to see the Mercedes pair together on row 3 of the grid.
Red Bull and Ferrari dominated the first two rows of the grid in what was an utter surprise to the starting order.
But it was Vettel’s statement on F1 history that made the Singapore Grand Prix. Vettel became the 3rd winningest driver in Grand Prix history vaulting Ayrton Senna with his 42nd victory. Vettel now trails only Alain Prost (51 victories) and Michael Schumacher (91 victories).
Ferrari’s Sergio Marchionne applauded the entire Ferrari effort. “Sebastian Vettel drove like a real champion today and everyone on the team, both on the track and back home in Maranello, did an absolutely perfect job. I’m also delighted for Kimi Raikkonen. It is wonderful to see him back on the podium too. It has been too long since two Ferrari drivers were in the first three across the line. I promise them this race is not just a one-off but a huge step forward on our road back.”
Daniel Ricciardo took second position and Kimi Raikkonen third in the event which was impacted by the emergence of 2 safety cars.
Red Bull Racing are traditionally strong at the Marina Bay circuit and again showed well. Ricciardo was all set to challenge Vettel before both safety cars impacted his forward motion and strategy. Ricciardo said “Making both stops under the safety car affected our chances and I think that dictated the race really. In the first stint we were coming on quite strong, with Seb pushing hard to break the DRS gap. But as the laps were ticking down, we were starting to come alive and I was able to lean on the tyres a bit more. Then I was frustrated to see the Safety Car come out, but I knew I still had to make one more stop so I had one more chance. But Seb seemed to have learned from the first stint and started easier than in the first one and was able to pull away later. I was able to close on him again, before we had another Safety Car.”
Nonetheless, a very strong finish for Ricciardo and teammate, Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat finished in 4th position. He was stymied after he pitted before the first safety car and never was able to recover the time lost. Still, Red Bull has seen their chassis come alive in the last few races and expects to do well this week coming to Suzuka.
Suzuka is usually a race where the safety car makes an appearance and this year was no different. The first resulted from a collision between Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and William’s Felipe Massa as Massa was exiting the pit exit lane. Hulkenberg was deemed at fault and handed a 3-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix next week.
The second safety car occurred when Sebastian Vettel radioed into race control stating there was a “fan” on the track.
A fan on the track?
What is up with that! Anything for a selfie right?
A 27-year-old man was arrested by Singapore police after entering the track near turn 13. Vettel remarked, “I think I saw him take a picture. I hope it was a good one at least, in focus. It was pretty crazy – we are approaching that corner at 280(km/h). I wouldn’t cross the track if I was him.”
Mercedes has a rough race with Lewis Hamilton retiring his car with a power issue. Mercedes said, “Lewis’ problem was diagnosed as a loss of boost pressure caused by the failure of a clamp between the intercooler and plenum.”
Hamilton now has a 41 point advantage in the championship battle which has decreased slightly from his advantage of 53 points. Of more interest is that Vettel is only 8 points behind Rosberg. This was an interesting setback for the Mercedes team who now have had two races in a row with engine problems.
Manor Racing placed American driver Alexander Rossi in the car in Singapore and for 5 of the last 7 races. Rossi delivered big time with a 14th place finish, outpacing teammate Will Stevens handily. In his Formula 1 debut, Rossi brought the car home safely extracting as much pace as possible from the Manor car. Rossi drove the second half of the race without radio communication from the pit wall, which added even more challenge to his debut. After a great start, Rossi will be in the seat again in Suzuka next week.
The Japanese Grand Prix will be the first time Formula 1 returns to Suzuka since the tragic accident of Jules Bianchi one year ago. The classic Suzuka venue is considered one of the most beautiful but presents considerable challenges with high speed corners, changing elevation and changes in camber. With the famous S curves, 130R, and the Spoon curve awaiting, it will be an emotional weekend for F1.
With Vettel and Ferrari improving form, and Mercedes struggling relatively, Japan will be an interesting event. Will Mercedes reclaim their dominant form, or will Ferrari and Red continue making an impact? Perhaps Japan will be a prelude to what we will see in 2016.
- Lewis Hamilton 252
- Nico Rosberg 211
- Sebastian Vettel 203
- Kimi Raikkonen 107
- Valtteri Bottas 101
- Felipe Massa 97
- Daniel Ricciardo 73
- Daniil Kvyat 66
- Sergio Perez 39
- Romain Grosjean 38
- Max Verstappen 30
- Nico Hulkenberg 30
- Felipe Nasr 17
- Pastor Maldonado 12
- Fernando Alonso 11
- Carlos Sainz Jr. 11
- Marcus Ericsson 9
- Jenson Button 6
- Mercedes 463
- Ferrari 310
- Williams 198
- Red Bull 139
- Force India 69
- Lotus 50
- Toro Rosso 41
- Sauber 26
- McLaren 17
- Manor/Marussia 0