“Oh God, not there,” Bob Bell, newly appointed team boss thought as his number 2 car, Romain Grosjean, spun off at turn 17. “That was spectacularly unfortunate,” he commented during Friday’s first practice session.
With the crash-gate still fresh in our minds, it was quite funny to see the second Renault car crashing at the exact same turn as Piquet did a year ago. Earlier that morning, Renault had to delicately peal off all ING and Mutua Madrilena (one of Spain’s biggest insurance groups whose main business is auto insurance) sponsor stickers as the banking and insurance company terminated their contracts with the team immediately after the FIA’s verdict. David Richards, owner of Prodrive, is said to have $50 million put aside if the car manufacturer (Renault) leave the sport, or are banned. That will be an interesting development.
As F1 ROCKS successfully entertained local and international fans, the celebrity musicians spent time at the pits. Beyonce camped at the McLaren pit alongside Lewis Hamilton and Nicole. ZZTop (a rock band I am not aware of) gave guitar lessons to Sebastien Vettel while the Black Eyed Peas attempted a pit stop with the Force India team. This new mergence of music and racing is going to be incredible fun. The F1 experience is already a celebrity-filled, high class one and with famous musicians walking around the pits at the same time, Formula 1’s image is beginning to shine again.
There is also talk this weekend that Raikkonen has made an unofficial agreement with McLaren for a 2010 seat. Can you imagine Hamilton and Raikkonen? Did McLaren not learn from their experiences with Alonso? Two hot heads in one team? The highest paid F1 driver moving to a team serving a British King? That would be the last place I would sign to. We’ll discuss this in more detail in a later post.
Speaking of Raikkonen, he expressed his fury after Saturday’s qualifying session. He and his teammate qualified 13th and 18th respectively. This result was due to the decision that there will be no more developments to their 2009 racer. Raikkonen explained that Ferrari is paying the price in a lack of performance when development stops.
Grosjean pit three laps in with a braking problem and has retired from it.
Singapore is one of the dirtiest/dustiest tracks on the calendar. Did you notice all the dust that was kicked up during the start? You can’t see much with all the lights but it apparently is extremely dusty and dusty = slippery.
“Okay Hamilton, we have an issue with the KERS. Default X30. this will disable KERS,” says the voice coming out of Hamilton’s ear plugs. Let’s hope part of his winning strategy wasn’t his KERS advantage.
You can tell, by the behavior of the cars, (if we hadn’t known their weights or predicted pit stops) how light they are as they go through the turns. Especially during the third sector which is tighter than most of the track. A little sideways motion always hints a lighter car – note Vettel’s oversteer. He’s the lightest of the top ten runners.
Hamilton clocks the fastest lap on lap 8.
“They just told Sutil that he has to manage the engine. He has engine over heating,” informed Fisichella’s race engineer to , hinting at Fisichella to get a move on in 16th place (his previous lap being .218 seconds faster than the Force India).
On lap 18 Raikkonen was 5 seconds faster than his under confident teammate.
“I’m still not 100 per cent,” he said. “I can see on the data that I am still braking a little bit earlier than Kimi and I’m not as aggressive as I need to be. That’s just confidence. I haven’t had the opportunity to do a day of testing to set up the car as I want and it’s not easy. I made some adjustments, but it’s still not a car for my style of driving. I expected to be more comfortable than I was in Monza but unfortunately it wasn’t like that. Probably because of the handling of the car here – the circuit is very bumpy and the walls are close to the braking points. The confidence in the car was not great,” Fisichella said after his poor qualifying spot.
Sutil taps Alguersuari gently, spins into a 360 degree turn, and smashes into Kubica. The safety car is deployed on Lap 21 – Sutil’s front wing is in pieces and all over the track.
“Keep working on the brakes, keep working on them. It’s only the fronts we’re worried about. The rear will be fine,” says Hamilton’s race engineer under the Safety Car.
Don’t car radio transmissions make the race so much more interesting? All that extra insight? I love it.
Fisichella also mentioned that the testing rule needs to be revised. Drivers like himself need to be able to adapt to the car and have more track time with it before a race weekend. Newcomers, in addition, need some sort of a break-in time too. Speaking of rules, it’s exciting seeing rules being drastically changed. It makes you wonder how good (or bad) it will change the sport. But no refueling? I don’t think F1 can handle that rule. Most of the place changes is done during the pit stops. There are some tracks that have very minimal overtaking areas. Imagine Monaco…I would watch qualifying on a Saturday and that would be my race as well.
The Sutil-Heidfeld incident will be investigated after the race.
What is there to be investigated. The reply clearly showed Sutil aggressively attempting to drive out of his off in order to keep losing anymore places. Instead he smashed into a car and retires them both.
Strange pieces have been flying off Vettel’s car. As I type that, he is being investigated for speeding in the pit lane on lap 41. He’s been given a drive through penalty (he has three laps to react to the penalty before he is black flagged. What a shame – he had secured a podium and was fast enough for the win. Are his title chances over? It’s going to be a lot harder now, that’s for sure.
“We’re still racing for 4th and 5th. We’re still racing. So, stay focused okay?” Vettel’s race engineer informs him a lap before he serves his penalty. He slots into 9th place.
With six laps left, a replay shows the dark brake dust spraying out of Button’s car. The circuit has already taken three drivers (Grosjean, Buemi and Alguersuari) due to brake problems and it looks like the Brawn duo are riding a fine line.
Hamilton crosses the line as Singapore winner, his second win of the season. Glock Alonso, Vettel…and the two Brawns, Button and Barrichello, make it home. Heikki, Kubica, Nakajima, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Trulli, and Fisichella complete the field.
Note the loud cheers as Alonso lifts his third place trophy. Interpret it as you wish.