Sunday, September 28, 2008

Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore Grand Prix
Sunday 28 September

In a thrilling and eventful race, Fernando Alonso (Renault) claimed his first victory in what, for a two times world champion, has been a very frustrating season with an uncompetitive car.

Felipe Massa led from pole and, with a light fuel load, was expected to pit early. Whether it was the unfamiliar track, the floodlit circuit or a lapse of concentration; things started to go wrong on lap 14, when Nelsinho Piquet (Renault) crashed into the concrete wall. Team mate Alonso had pitted earlier and was spared the pain of watching the fuel draining behind the safety car. This lack of fuel forced Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg to incur 10 second penalties for re-fuelling whilst the pit lane was ‘closed’. When Massa finally pitted on lap 17, a faulty light signal prompted him to accelerate away with the fuel hose still attached. The hose ripped out of the bowser, bowled over one of the pit crew and dragged behind the Ferrari until Massa stopped. Further seconds were lost as the crew raced after the car and wrestled the nozzle from the tank. Massa rejoined the race in last place.

Meanwhile Rosberg (Williams) had re-joined the race and, as one by one the cars ahead pitted for fuel, found himself in the lead, followed by Jarno Trulli (Toyota) who was on a one-stop strategy. Rosberg finally pitted for his penalty, leaving Trulli in the lead. Once Trulli pitted, Alonso was clear away and began to build a strong lead. Meanwhile, David Coulthard had moved up into third, with Lewis Hamilton fourth. Alonso pitted on lap 40, by which time he had built a sufficient lead to re-join just in front of Coulthard. Hamilton saw his opportunity and passed Coulthard seconds later before a final pit stop.

Raikkonen, who had patiently worked his way back into fifth position after the earlier chaos, crashed out with just four laps to go. Team mate Massa had spun off on lap 50; pulling away just before Adrian Sutil (Force India) crashed into the barrier. Not a good evening for a team which started 1st and 3rd on the grid.

In what could become defining moments in the 2008 championship, Ferrari lost their constructor’s lead to McLaren and Renault pulled ahead of Toyota to take fourth place behind BMW Sauber.

The next grand prix takes place in Japan on Sunday 12 October.

Mike O’Neill

The top eight finishers were:
1 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2 Nico Rosberg (Williams)
3 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
4 Timo Glock (Toyota)
5 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
6 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
7 David Coulthard (Red Bull)
8 Kazuki Nakajima (Williams)

After 15 races, the leader board looks like this:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51
7 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 38
8 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 27
9Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 26
10 Timo Glock (Toyota) 20
10 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 20

1 McLaren 135fer
2 Ferrari 134
3 BMW Sauber 120
4 Renault 51
5 Toyota 46

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