McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix from pole position as he drove an impeccable race throughout having relinquished his lead only at the pit stops. Toyota scored their first podium of the season as Timo Glock finished in second place as penalties for both Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel mean they fell down the order. Renault returned to the scene of their crashgate controversy and scored a podium place as Fernando Alonso finished third.
Sebastian Vettel overcame a drive through penalty and brake problems to finish fourth ahead of the two Brawns of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. Button crucially finishing ahead of his teammate and consolidating his lead in the Championship race by two more points. Heikki Kovalainen finished seventh as Robert Kubica took the last point in eight place.
The race started out in a sedate fashion with Lewis Hamilton maintaining his lead and Nico Rosberg out-jumping Sebastian Vettel to slot behind Hamilton. Fernando Alonso also had a good start and passed Mark Webber but then had a scruffy exit out of a corner which allowed Webber to retake the position – but ultimately yielded it as it was deemed to be unfair. Both the Brawns had a decent start and made up few places off the start and no doubt planning to take it slow and steady throughout the race.
Romain Grosjean was the first of the retirements as his Renault was plagued with brake problems from the outset. Lewis Hamilton also had a KERS-gone-kaput scare before it came back somehow. Timo Glock had a piece of his Toyota fall down on the track and that brought out a prolonged period of yellow flags before it was removed by a brave track marshal. Nico Rosberg was nicely running in second place but a twitch while coming out of his pit stop meant that he crossed the white line and had to endure a drive through penalty.
But that was delayed somewhat by a spin-and-tonk between the Force India of Adrian Sutil and the BMW of Nick Heidfeld as Sutil spun while trying to overtake the mobile chicane that was Jaime Algersuari and poor Nick could do nothing but clash with him and spinning round while dislodging the front wing of the Force India. This brought out the Safety Car which was a disappointment for those heavy on fuel as they had to twaddle round in a procession. Rosberg was the heaviest to suffer as he could only serve his drive through once the Safety Car was gone and that dropped him down from second into fourteenth!
Subsequent incidents saw Jaime Algersuari have a Massa-like pit-stop incident as he pulled away from the pit box with the fuel hose still attached! This time, it was purely a driver error as he lifted off before the lollipop was even removed. Mark Webber had a brake duct failure and even though the team inspected it on his second pit stop, they waved him along and he ultimately spun off into the tyre wall at the turn two hairpin. Brake problems also meant retirements for both the Toro Rossos and even the Brawns were affected by it as Ross Brawn had to bark out take-it-easy instructions to Jenson Button who was running in fifth and had Barrichello ten seconds behind.
In the end, McLaren will the team coming out of Singapore with the win but no doubt Brawn will also be as elated and will probably be breathing a sigh of relief to have seen Button finish ahead of Barrichello. With just three more races to go, there is a 15 point difference between the Brawn drivers with Sebastian Vettel a further 10 points behind. In the Constructors’ Race, Webber’s retirement hurt Red Bull as they see the gap to Brawn GP stretch to 42.5 points…all but guaranteeing the title in favor of Brawn.
The next race is in a week’s time at Suzuka – a circuit which tends to be cool with chances of rain – and Red Bull will look to maximise their advantage in cooler temperatures. All Jenson Button has to do is to keep his teammate behind him and ensure a decent points finish. A win would do no harm either! Bring.It.On.