The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix is the Monaco GP of the Orient – a weekend known more for its glamour and time-slot than on-track action, with a temporary circuit that punishes every mistake, usually terminally.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas got the best of Free Practice 1, opening the curtain on a possible resurgence of Silver Arrows performance. By the time qualifying was done, though, it was his teammate Nico Rosberg who lined up second on the grid, followed by Romain Grosjean with a beautiful performance in the Lotus, Mark Webber in the Infiniti Red Bull, and Hamilton all the way back in fifth. Behind them were Felipe Massa outqualifying Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button getting the McLaren into eighth, Daniel Ricciardo with another good Q3 effort to get into ninth, and the shocker of Esteban Gutiérrez getting his Sauber into the top ten for the first time this year.

At the front of the pack was Sebastian Vettel. Again. But he was only ahead of Rosberg by a single tenth of a second...


We might as well get this part out of the way right now: in spite of his proximity to Rosberg, Vettel steamrolled the field from the Free Practice 2 until the end of the race. On Friday Kimi Räikkönen said Vettel couldn't be touched. Hamilton said Vettel couldn't be touched. Alonso offered his customary code for 'Vettel can't be touched,' which is some twist on 'We have better race pace, we'll just have to do our best and see what happens.' Button said Vettel was "playing another game."



The timing differences between Vettel and the rest were so big they looked like typos. You could not have treated the other drivers any worse if you had thrown them over the wall into the polar bear pen at the zoo. At one point, when Rosberg in second place decided he was going to try to nurse his tires, Vettel was told to go for it and started putting 2.5 seconds per lap into the chasers, building up a cushion so he could pit without fear of being passed. Two-point-five seconds in 3.47 miles, on the best drivers in some of the most advanced cars in the world. When he wasn't trying, he was only lapping a second per lap faster than everyone else. On super soft tires, which the Infiniti Red Bull chassis supposedly doesn't like. And he made them last for 18 laps, at which point his lead was more than 36 seconds.

So the short story is: he won.



Behind him, Rosberg led the race for about six seconds at the start, keeping the nose of his Mercedes in front all the way to the second turn. That's when he overcooked it and ran wide, letting Vettel back into the lead. He would slowly work his way backward, and over the last third of the race, on Lap 45 when he was in ninth place and being trailed by his teammate, he it seemed like he didn't want to be there. His performance dropped off and when his team told him to fight to the end, he asked, "Why do I have to fight?" When teammate Hamilton started climbing all over the back of him on lap 55, Rosberg came alive and spent the last few laps of the race passing runners in front whose tires had gone off. He would finish fourth, just ahead of Hamilton.



If we were to nominate two more excellent drives behind Vettel, they'd go to the other men on the podium. Alonso, who started seventh on the grid, gained four places by the first corner. The Safety Car came out on Lap 25 because Ricciardo speared his Toro Rosso into the wall at Turn 18, keeping Singapore's Safety Car appearance record at a solid 100 percent. Good pit strategy by Ferrari during the caution had Alonso out behind two cars that hadn't pitted, so he eventually moved up to second behind Vettel. That's where he'd finish, yet again doing more with the Ferrari than most would expect from it. His teammate Massa finished sixth.

Räikkönen took the final step. The Finn suffered from back problems during the lead-up to the race and qualified in 13th, but almost didn't contest the event. Even though he was in pain during the race he carved his way through to third by the end. An on-the-fly pit strategy change after being bottled up behind McLaren of Sergio Perez, the Lotus' usual good treatment of its tires and the fading of late runners in front were all factors in his excellent run. He also pulled off another terrific pass, going around the outside of Button through Turn 14 on Lap 54.



Otherwise, Lotus has had a terrible week. Räikkönen announced his departure over money issues and then fell out of qualifying in Q2, Grosjean was looking to be Lotus' standard bearer – and put in a good drive to help his own future – and probably could have had a podium, but when the pneumatic air valve system on his Renault engine failed his race was done on Lap 40.

One day the F1 version of Deep Throat is going to write a book that explains the pre-race rites and rituals that were used to curse Webber's car. Maybe this mole will even tell us which aboriginal Aussie gods Webber pissed off. On Lap 4 Webber was told to look after his tires, keep a two-second gap to Alonso in front and make sure to keep Grosjean behind. Quick pit stops saw him leapfrog other drivers, and good late-race pace had him in fourth place on Lap 56 and putting in good times. Then the call came from the pit wall on Lap 57 telling him to short-shift. One lap later he was being told to short-shift in all gears even earlier than he was doing. A lap later he was being told to "just get the car to the finish." A lap after that, the penultimate lap of the race, his engine was on fire and he was pulling his car over. Alonso gave Webber a ride back to the pits after the race finished, Webber riding the sidepods like we've seen other racers do in the past. The stewards weren't impressed and slapped Webber with a 10-place grid penalty at the next race in Korea. Slapped him hard, they did.



The rest of the top ten was Button in seventh, who had looked so close to a podium in the final part of the race, Perez right behind him, also swamped by cars behind due to worn-out tires, Nico Hülkenberg doing another excellent job in the Sauber and Adrian Sutil getting some points for Sahara Force India after teammate Paul di Resta – who had been running in tenth – parked his car in the barriers on Lap 55 at Turn 7.

Career victory number 33 for Vettel puts him one ahead of Alonso, eight behind Ayrton Senna and 60 points in front of the Ferrari driver in the championship: Vettel has 247, Alonso 187. It was Vettel's third victory in a row and the third year in a row he's won the Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton, in third with 151, has given up the title chase and is now gunning for Alonso's second spot.



Ferrari actually closed the gap to Infiniti Red Bull in the Constructor's Championship by a single point because it had two cars finish in the points, while Webber's car hates finishing at all. The reigning champs are on 377 points, Ferrari on 274, Mercedes just a single decent finish in arrears at 267.

In Korea in two weeks we'll see if anyone can do anything about the Infiniti Red Bulls. According to the odds in Vegas, every fortnight the answer is increasingly "No."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      VL00
      • 1 Year Ago
      Challenging track, but F1 is getting so damn boring. Put refueling back in! Add a little excitement.
        eeenok
        • 1 Year Ago
        @VL00
        if refuelling is what you think makes racing interesting, you need to pick a different sport
        Badfish941
        • 1 Year Ago
        @VL00
        Don't forget about the new 1.6L engines for next season....
      HH112233
      • 1 Year Ago
      Vettel has done an outstanding job at Singapore last weekend. Probably one of the finest drives in F1 history. All the booing he is getting right now is not correct. He is a classy person. Genuinely friendly as mentioned by many people close to him. He stays out of the glamour (feet to earth) and does what he loves, racing cars at a fiercely competitive level. People who take away credit from him or boo him, need to be told to be quiet (and kicked in the groin ;-). Resorting to something as low as bulling someone out, since nothing else works, is absolutely incorrect. Even fellow racers step up for him. He is the best, is working hard or harder than anybody else. Why shouldn’t he be on top? Love him or hate him but respect him and his talent.
        davido
        • 1 Year Ago
        @HH112233
        I don't boo Vettel, but it may be the case that those who do, are simply bored with the state of the sport and want more competition. As for being the best, he's very good. But if he switched cars with Hamilton or Alonzo, he would not be on top. He would finish where they are finishing.
          gtv4rudy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @davido
          I said it before that Vettel is the luckiest driver in F1 today, not because he's not a great driver but because he drives the RedBull F1 car designed by a genius race car designer who's built the best race car in his career. Even Schumacher never had it this easy during his F1 career.
        ksrcm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @HH112233
        HH112233 I never said Vettel is not (one of) the best. I always respected Schumacher as driver, but never as sportsman. Same with Vettel. I will reverse my opinion when I see Vettel fighting for a championship (+/- 10 points) and, when rear-ended at the traffic light for qualifying, stepping out of the car, tapping the guy who rear-ended him on the shoulder and pointing to the traffic light. When I see THAT, then we will talk about Vettel as a sportsman. Until then ...
          ksrcm
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ksrcm
          Yes, I had problems accepting them as sportsmen, never with their talent as drivers. I never contested what you wrote above, some of the guys are awesome drivers and most of us can only wish to have 1% of that talent, let alone 20%. When Vettel is told (umpteen times) to just bring the car in, no need to push like he's fighting for WDC, he already won and he keeps not listening because he wants his name on the books ... well, maybe somebody needs to remind him this is not baseball, but F1. Statistics only count ... well, for nothing, You are as good as your next race and capability to bring points in for the team FIRST, then for yourself. Being ruthless in passing and bending the rules to get ahead of the guy in your immediate vicinity is lauded and praised as "killer instinct" you must have to compete at that level, nobody has a problem with that. Most of us have a problem with racing nobody but the books on which you want your name for records nobody gives a shy*e about. That's borderline psychotic.
      Felspawn
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Schumi years killed my love of F1, and just when I started to get back into it the Vettel takes over. Honestly I think I'm done with the sport
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      ksrcm
      • 1 Year Ago
      10 places penalty to Webber is total BS. These are not American drivers commuting, people around them are F1 racers with FIA Superlicense, for crying out loud! Stop micromanaging and freaking out at even the possible *interpretation* in the eyes of ignoramuses of "unsafe behavior" ! I love Kimi. I love underdog. I asked myself how would I enjoy the show if it was Kimi in Lotus doing to the rest what Vettel is doing now. My conclusion is I might enjoy it for first 5-6 races, MAYBE a season if there were few DNFs ... but I don't think I would enjoy it any longer than that. This last "race" was so pathetic from that aspect, but quite a bit of fun if you just "disappear" Vettel from your mental picture of the event and watch the real race going on from 2nd to 20th place.
      TrippulG3
      • 1 Year Ago
      Re: Webber's 10-spot grid penalty...take a look and judge for yourself: http://www.blick.ch/sport/formel1/der-wahnsinn-von-singapur-im-video-id2450773.html As others have mentioned, it was not the action in and of itself which garnered the penalty, but the fact that it was the third time this season he had been given a reprimand. It may have made for "good TV", but the fact remains that he disobeyed the written sporting regulations. Was a 10-spot penalty a bit harsh? Possibly, and one would think that a driver who's been around as long as Webber would know better, but I think at this point in his career, he just doesn't give a damn.
      Mercennarius
      • 1 Year Ago
      Vettel is without a doubt one of the greatest F1 drivers the sport has ever seen. Given his age he could easily become the most winning F1 driver in history if he keeps it up...
      Ben Lee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Todays F1is more about not making a mistake than pure driving. It hasnt been watchable for many years now.
        Kuro Houou
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ben Lee
        I'd say races like Singapore and Monte Carlo are by far the worst to watch. Their is so little passing once the race gets going. Not to mention Vettel is just on fire, respect to him, but its boring watching races to see who gets second.
          Kimithechamp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Kuro Houou
          I hear you but disagree. Nothing better than a tight street course where the price for a mistake is catastrophic. Nothing thrilling to me about a lesser driver having a football field's worth of run-off.
          sloturbo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Kuro Houou
          Agreed, and that's why I'm against the NJ street course race.
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Kuro Houou
          Monte Carlo is pretty bad to watch and all the hype around it makes it even more so; but I think Singapore is one of the better races. This year that wasn't really a race at the front, but right outside of the front few positions there was some great racing. And there was passing.
      Myself
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is it the Vettel's fault that other teams failed to make a good car? Newey designed cars that failed to win championships - those cars were driven by guys who are supposedly better than Vettel. For heaven's sake he drove 2 sec per lap faster on harder tires than his nearest rivals could on softer - faster tires. And by the way - Senna, Prost, Mansell, Hill.... They all won their ALL titles driving superior cars. Vettel is a legend and he is the best driver on the grid - by some margin.
        TrippulG3
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Myself
        I think your recollection of the race is a bit cloudy. Vettel was pulling out his 2 second per lap advantage on supersofts, which he was better able to preserve than others due to running in clean air. Because of the safety car deployment, and the possibility of people behind him converting from a 3-stop to a 2-stop strategy, Vettel's crew knew he had to open up a gap if he was to pit and still maintain P1. Therefore, he was told to push. Rosberg who was in second at the time, had rubber buildup in his front wingslots and was suffering from excessive understeer as a result, not to mention that he was in tire conservation mode since he had decided not to pit under the safety car. Credit where credit is due, Vettel put in an impressive drive...but people are really blowing this whole "2 seconds a lap" thing out of proportion.
      John
      • 1 Year Ago
      i say, put vettel in a competitive car like the ferrari/mclaren/mercedes, and he will have to earn those wins and dog fight with the rest of them. he is blessed to have the engineers at red bull, and he should thank them for every win.
      Brodz
      • 1 Year Ago
      How can Webber be criticised for not winning a Championship? Even the team that builds the best cars on the grid can't stop his from "mysteriously" malfunctioning. Vettel's breaks down a lot less. Coincidence, it is not.
        Myself
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Brodz
        Sure, because the team would likely give up tens of millions of dollars they get for winning the constructors' championship by giving Webber unferior car only to make the kid happy... What a naive person you, and the likes, are. Red Bull's potential is a bit higher than how Webber drives. The rest is Vettel.
      cypherxx666xx
      • 1 Year Ago
      to the vet haters, all those ifs and buts don`t matter. he is doing/has done sth. better than all others do. as simple as that....
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