Hamilton wins as Button closes on title

2009 Singapore Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton took an emphatic win in Singapore
Lewis Hamilton took an emphatic win in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton took his second victory of 2009 in dominant fashion in the Singapore Grand Prix.

But the McLaren driver would have had a tougher fiht on his hands if his two closest challengers, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, hadn’t been handed penalties for pit lane transgressions.

Meanwhile Jenson Button moved closer to the championship by finishing one place ahead of team mate Rubens Barrichello.

Webber in trouble at start

Start, Singapore Grand Prix, 2009
Start, Singapore Grand Prix, 2009

Hamilton never looked like being headed into the first corner, but there was a desperate scramble behind him as Rosberg and Fernando Alonso moved up from their advantageous positions on the clean side of the track.

Rosberg took second place off Vettel with little difficulty and Alonso, who’d taken Mark Webber with similar ease, shaped up to pass Vettel at the first corner.

Vettel rebuffed Alonso and that left the Renault driver back in the clutches of Webber. He moved around the outside of the Renault at turn seven, but both drivers ran wide and went off the track. Webber held the positon, and Timo Glock darted down the inside of Alonso at the following corner to take fifth.

Webber didn’t keep the position for long. On lap six he slowed and let Glock and Alonso past on the instruction of his team. Whether they felt they were likely to get a penalty, or race control had told them they would, isn’t clear – but Webber was clearly unhappy about the decision after the race.

Penalty stymies Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Singapore Grand Prix, 2009
Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Singapore Grand Prix, 2009

With a little more fuel on board than the cars immediately behind him, Hamilton didn’t pull away by much at the front. By lap six he had just 1.9s over Rosberg. That was partly due to problems with the McLaren’s KERS, which refused to work early on in the race, before coming back to life again.

Vettel was the first of leaders to pit, coming in from third on lap 16. Rosberg came in on the next lap but this stop proved the undoing of his race. On his way back to the track he asked a little too much of the surface grip at the pit lane exit, skidded wide and across the pit lane blend line. A penalty was inevitable.

What happened next turned Rosberg’s plight even worse. Adrian Sutil was locked in battle with Jaime Alguersuari, and spun his Force India while trying to pass.

Unwisely, he kept his foot down and tried to set off while Nick Heidfeld was passing in his BMW. The pair made heavy contact, putting Heidfeld out on the spot (ending his record streak of finishes) and leaving Sutil crawling back to the pits and retirement. After the race the stewards handed Sutil a fine but did not give him a penalty for the next race in Japan.

The safety car came out while the marshals dragged Heidfeld’s broken car away. With the rules stating Rosberg could only serve his penalty on a racing lap, it meant he would fall even further down the order once he finally took his penalty.

Amazingly, in a repeat of last year’s race, we now saw a car attempting to leave its pit with a refuelling hose still attached. This time it was Alguseruari, who jumped away from his mark before the signal. But he didn’t make it as far down the pit lane as Felipe Massa did, and was able to return to the race. However, both he and team mate Sebastien Buemi failed to see the chequered flag due to technical problems.

Hamilton made his pit stop as the safety car was heading onto the track and he kept the lead of the race. After Rosberg took his penalty Vettel took up second with Glock now third ahead of Alonso.

Vettel put Hamilton under some serious pressure during the second stint, rarely more than a second behind the McLaren. That was partly because he had less fuel on board, but when he came in for more on lap 39 he made the mistake that ended his hopes of victory. He broke the pit lane speed limit, and a return to the pits three laps later for a drive-through was inevitable. Making matters worse, his right-hand mirror had fallen off, and a skid along a kerb damaged part of his diffuser.

Vettel penalised too

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Singapore, 2009
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Singapore, 2009

Vettel’s problems meant Hamilton was now under no pressure at all and Barrichello moved up to fourth ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Button. The championship leader was fuelled to pit a few laps after his team mate, but another incident gave him the opportunity to get ahead.

The lap after Vettel served his penalty, Webber came into the pits. As well as the fuel and tyres routine, his mechanics played close attention to the overheating front-right brake. He kept going but two laps later the car got away from him at turn one and he went backwards in the barrier at speed.

A swathe of drivers reacted by diving into the pits in anticipation of the safety car being deployed: Hamilton, Kovalainen, Nakajima, Alguersuari, Giancarlo Fisichella, Vitantonio Liuzzi and – crucially – Barrichello, but not Button.

The safety car wasn’t deployed, and when Button finally came in five laps later he had built up enough of a lead to hold a comfortable advantage over Barrichello.

That was the last major development in a race that had often been quiet. Button didn’t bother chasing after Vettel, preferring instead to look after his troubled brakes and increase his championship lead by a precious point. If he takes five more off Barrichello at Suzuka next week, he’s the new champion.

But it was the reigning champion who was un-catchable at Singapore. It might not have been a vintage race, but unlike last year, at least the result was genuine.

Singapore Grand Prix

120 comments on “Hamilton wins as Button closes on title”

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  1. Webbers penalty was a joke. Kimi ran so wide at the start of the race in Spa and made up 3 places. The stewards are a complete bunch of… You know what

    1. It’s those red cars again. For once I agree with everything Webber said in his post race interview

    2. This race was very boring the first 2 laps were good but then everything went to mclaren side it looked like the race had been bought
      1ºqualifying Barrichello crashed right on time
      2ºWilliams race was ruined again by stupid decision
      3ºStewarts were very focused on vettel speed

      1. Hamilton wasnt dominant we saw rosberg and vettel matching his pace i think the decider was rubens crash on qualifying who gave the pole to a heavy Ham

        1. Did you ever hear of fuel strategy?

          Hamilton was dominant because the only reason they were matching his pace was because they were (much) lower on fuel

          Especially Vettel was at least 7 laps lighter than Hamilton. A lap lighter usually translates to something like a tenth of a second a lap faster. So Vettel should have been at least 0.7s a lap faster than Hamilton to truly “match his pace”.

          Also, Hamilton would have taken pole even if Barrichello hadn’t crashed. Vettel was only marginally faster than Hamilton in S1, so a purple S1 doesn’t mean much. Especially not with Hamilton still getting ready for his fast lap.

          Even if Hamilton hadn’t gotten pole, he would have used KERS to get back in front anyway.

          1. Patrick watch qualifying again red flags ruined the 2nd run of vettel rosberg webber vettel was going to pole

          2. i agree “Even if Hamilton hadn’t gotten pole, he would have used KERS to get back in front anyway” but for some reason on race pace Ham was not the best

          3. F2000, watch qualifying. Hamilton was going to do a fast lap also, but aborted before starting the lap because of the red flag.

            F2000, watch sector times. Vettel was only faster in S1, so a faster first sector of him means nothing.

      2. Hamilton definitely deserved to win this race, dominant all weekend. Hopefully McLaren can carry this form into next season. I think that the title is buttons, with 3 races left i cant see Rubens catching him. I agree with alot of people that webber penalty was harsh when compared to what Kimi got away with at Spa.

        I think Heikkis time is up, he’s not proven himself to be good enough to race for the top teams, hopefully Kimi will be Hamiltons team mate next year :D.

        1. Kimi i guess was a changed/ much happier a man in ’07, his first year with Ferrari. Now things are not as peachy/ rosy, use whichever you like better. However, going to McLaren means, dealing with Hamilton, not the race driver, but one to whom the team owes allegiance. This is a different ballgame and i wonder whether Kimi would risk doing that. Montoya warned Alonso and just look back wt what happened in ’07.

          Brawn, well, they may be what he might be looking at. Master strategist who owes allegiance to fastest driver in team. Good car. Safe future, keeping in mind the partnership with Mercedes.

    3. i know! i thought it was very unfair, i thought it was a good pass even if it was illegal bt was unfair how he had to give the place to glock too.

      1. The difference between Kimi in Spa and Webber in Singapore, is that Kimi run wide but rejoined at the same running position on the track AND THEN overtook the cars in front of him. I don’t disagree that he probably had a better momentum that facilitated his overtaking, but at the same time, it took a lot of cold blooded calculations and adjustments to make sure that he did not gain any position on the cars ahead of him while running wide.
        On another front, for me the most interesting point of the race may be the game employed by Mclaren using the radio communication. A few years back, when radio transmitions were not broadcasted, we remember on occasions teams getting ready for a pit stop (only running back inside the garage when their car continued on the track), just to fool their rivals into thinking they were about to pit and trick them in changing their strategy. In the new age of radio transmitions publication, Mclaren tried to pull a fast one on the competition by claiming to have a problem with KERS. Well it was a nice try, but didn’t fool me.

        1. and i agree with you that it was very unfair, as it was a good pass. I wouldn’t consider it illegal but rather part of racing for possition, something that we all want to see more of.

    4. Been saying it for years. Everyone wants to defend the stewards but most of them dont know which end of the car is the front or the back. Especially the ones from the mid east.

    5. yeh, as soon as i saw the webber ‘incident’ i thought spa and kimi, precedent = no penalty. then when fisichella defended a position in exactly the same way on the corner later in the race, there was no question about a penalty at all. alonso was off the track as well and if webber tried to get back on the track, there would definately have been contact. i’d really like to see some more consistency from the FIA. good thing is (i guess) is that webber wasn’t going to finish the race anyway so it doesn’t really matter now.

      1. They are doing everything they can to make sure Red Bull don’t win any of the titles. The FIA are going to make Button and Brawn win because it will be a “fairytale”

        1. I’m pretty sure that we don’t know if the FIA told Webber to do this or if Red Bull did. The racing director likely said that it was being investigated. It’s better for Webber to give the spots back on track rather than wait and get a stop and go. If you re-read Kieth’s article, he says that “Whether they felt they were likely to get a penalty, or race control had told them they would, isn’t clear”

          So, you’re argument is pointless. It would actually be better for the sport if Red Bull won – also a fairy tell without making the sport look like ‘anyone’ can do it.

  2. I like this track, today there were little bits of excitement but then everything went dull. Webber should have gave position back immediately, he was bit thick and meant he lost out to Glock too.

  3. Yeah, Kimi was unfair to get away with it but doesn’t mean Mark’s penalty was wrong just that Kimi should have been punished and Webber informed immediately so he didn’t lose out so much.

    1. it wasn’t a penalty

  4. I think it was a great show of how good Hamilton is as a driver, I think that the dull start to the season has made him a better driver. He seems to be more hungrier for victories and a lot wiser (apart from monza the other week). I think that this shows that he is going to be up for it next season, especially if they have a good car.

    I feel sorry for Webber, I personally don’t believe that is was a penalty, especially after the huge advantage Kimi got from his adventures off the track in Spa.

    And its a real shame Button didn’t get his extra laps in, it could have een an even better result or him :D

    1. Sometimes we are over patriotic Ham did a fantastic race but he was very lucky this race wasnt his fortunatly he won

      1. He wasn’t “very lucky” by any stretch of the imagination. Hamilton was the best performer in the first Q3 run, despite being heavier than many of the other cars in that session.

        Who knows what would have happened if the second run had been completed, but even if he hadn’t put his car on pole, Hamilton may well have taken the lead going into the first corner by virtue of his KERS system. The extra fuel he was carrying would also have given him an advantage going into the first round of pit-stops.

        Whilst everyone around him made mistakes, Hamilton had a near perfect weekend, which is why he won the race. Not much luck involved in all honesty.

      2. Very lucky? Did you not watch the race?

        The only chance off him not winning the race was through a safety car coming out at the wrong time for him.

        And yh, I understand alot of people can get over patriotic about Hamilton, that happens quite alot, but I think that if you are a true fan of Hamilton, then what is the problem?

        Is there many other people sat in there McLaren Victory tops right now?

        1. No, he had two VERY fast competitors that made stupid mistakes and got penalties, therefore were unable to challenge. He also was handed the pole with Rubens wreck (we don’t know ‘for sure’ if he would or would not have gottent he pole on his own).

          So, a bit of luck, (definitely not ‘very lucky’) for Hamilton. The key point is that he drove a fast, clean, mistake free race.
          the others couldn’t do it (by the way, I’m not British and therefore not being patriotic).

      3. F2000, I have read your posts on this thread and the others as well, and from your comments I am making the presumption you are on the wind up.

    2. I completely agree with ashes1991

      1. i think what f2000’s gettin at is thatthere wasn’t really as much of a challenge put to hamilton as there should have been. but hamilton’s race was flawless. as much as i’d have rathered to see rosberg or vettel win, hamilton was in a class of his own.

  5. Just a thought here. I really want to know why ferrari have stopped developing their F60 car. Everybody, including Brundle, Whitmarsh seem to think that the fundamentals will remain the same, so whatever effort you put into this years car, you’ll reap the benefit next near. So I dunno why they’ve stopped developing their car

    My theory is that Ferrari are building a car to suite Alonso’s style of driving, remember 2006?? When McLaren stopped developing their 2006 car midway through the season. They did that cuz they knew kimi was moving out & they had already signed Alonso, so they started to develop a car suited for Alonso’s style of driving. I suspect the reverse is happening now. As for Mclaren continuous development, everyone including Brundle is of the opinion that Kimi’s & Hammi’s style of driving are very similar, like oversteer etc

    1. A posible and very interesting article would be to highlight the differences in driving habits between Alonso, Hamilton, Schumi etc — even going back in history a little bit. The strong points, setup preferences etc of different drivers, and how this affects the development of the cars to suit individual drivers.
      Cheers and congrats to Hamilton !

    2. I agree MP4, it is an unusual decision by Ferrari when you consider the stability of the rules between this season and next. The Alonso theory is an interesting one, but I think that Ferrari have made various mistakes in development this year which would be difficult to go back on and apply new updates to, they are probably adopting a new design philosophy, and rather than keep chasing down different design avenues they are starting from scratch but with a much better informed starting position, thus being able to make much better time using the wind tunnel. The other theory is they have found a genius bit of aero design inside the regs and realise it’s too late to expose it to the field to be copied!!!
      MP4 you love a good conspiracy, well theres another one for you!

    3. I’m not sure your theory really stands up, despite the likelihood of regulation stability. The Ferrari F60 is a reasonable but flawed response to the 2009 regulations. But if there are several fundamental problems with the car (as there appear to be) then you’ll never solve them simply by bolting on a few new updates.

      As long as Ferrari understand the problems with the F60 (and can therefore correct them in their 2010 car) then their time may be better spent designing the new car, regardless of who drives for them next year. McLaren’s decision to do likewise in 2006 (when they found themselves in something of a blind alley) was almost certainly taken for similar reasons. For one thing, if Ferrari has decided to abandon KERS, this could have a significant impact on their plans for 2010.

      Even with rule stability, you could well get more out of extra time developing a 2010 car than trying to mitigate the shortcomings of a flawed 2009 chassis.

    4. Yeah, but hat didnt work out to good for mclaren in the long run. And by them stopping development on the 2006 car kimi didnt win the championship when he could have. The fact that kimi was leaving shouldnt have mattered.
      Ferrari is going to regret the day they signed this guy. I forsee a bad year next for the red team unless massa can get it going again. and when he does watch the little crying festival in maranello featuring you know who.
      I dont believe this is going to be what they at ferrari are wanting either because I dont believe massa will lye down for alonso and we know he isnt going to accept massa getting equal equipment.
      I can usually find something to cheer about for ferrari every year but next year may be tough.

      1. was Kimi in the hunt in 2006?

        1. Not in the slightest.

      2. and when he does watch the little crying festival in maranello featuring you know who.

        Lord Voldemort?

    5. I don’t think this decision has to do anything with Alonso.

      The F60 is fundamentally flawed, unlike the McLaren which only needed improvements. Reasons to prove this are
      1. Ferari fired their aerodynamics head few races ago, I forgot his name, it was there in autosport.
      2. F60 uses much more fuel than its competitors to travel the same amount of distance as shown in Belgium
      3. The downforce produced by the F60 is still less, which indicates the problems with basic car design something which just a double decker diffuser can’t solve.

      Like Brawn have shown, their pace was not simply down to the diffuser, the entire car was good.

      With next year’s regulations demanding a large fuel tank, and given Ferrari’s not so good fuel consumption, surely, they cannot use this year’s car as a base for next year.

      1. I kind of agree, but take something like the front wing of the McLaren…

        They have tried many many versions of this in free practice and have developed the design as a result.

        Now, the regs for the front wing are the same next year. I’m not saying the whole car is not more than the sum of its parts, but with limited testing surely Ferrari should be testing ideas (for a front wing for example) it has for the 2010 car this year?

        By completely freezing progress reminds me more of BMW than Brawn, and we all know what heppened there.

    6. @mp4-19b

      When you change certain design elements on the car. Characteristics change, which may or may not suit one’s driving style. So far, what i said doesn’t disagree much with what you had to say. However, tailoring the car for one driver is not the approach teams take, unless you have a driver like Wurz, who was too tall and big compared to the other driver in the car.

      Who knows, Ferrari may have found something groundbreaking. Plus, next year teams are supposed to be making their cars even more reliable. So in those terms, developing as per specs to be raced next year makes sense. Several teams have done this in past.

      @ Bartholomew
      There was an article in F1Racing some years ago, i think in 2004, where they compared driving styles of Schumacher and Alonso. I have that issue, but sadly that is in Delhi(India) and now i work in Mumbai(India).

      Think one of the things that someone highlighted was how Alonso likes turning in sharper. Comparatively Schumacher’s smoother, gradual and less aggressive on the turn-in. I don’t remember more beyond that. Sorry about that.

      Funnily enough, even though Alonso’s rather harsh during corner entry et all, he’s good at managing tyre life. Which speaks volumes about his driving prowess, i must say.

  6. mp4 might be something in that, will help Massa too as he has similar preference in cars to Alonso.

    1. Steph;

      I’m not sure bout Massa. The guy is so lucky to be alive. I sincerely hope that he’ll recover in time & give Alonso a tough time. But sadly , I don’t see that happening, at least for the starting few races. I think Fisi will deputize for the first few races. Thats a winning combi, ain’t it? remember 05,06?

      1. MP4 we agree on something!!!! I do not think Massa will ever return to the title challenging form he has shown us in recent seasons, he has a young family now and this incident must take something out of an F1 driver. I really hope I’m wrong, but with Alonso as a team-mate Massas comeback will be very difficult.

  7. We had great drives today: Hamilton, Glock, Alonso, Vettel’s recovery, Rosberg’s initial performance and then his fun at the back, and yet we got a dull race. Shorten the circuit to cut out the slowest bits, change a few corners, or stop coming here. Spa is just as much a challenge for the drivers and we gets good races there! Thank god we’re going to Suzuka so soon.

  8. Great victory for Hamilton, Ferrari will have to work hard if they want to keep his 3rd. position in WCC.

    Very disappointing GP for both RBR. I’m not sure if Vettel’s problem was due to the speed limiter or just an error. And for Webber, I would have taken the risk of not returning back the place to Alonso, and see what happen.

    Both driver’s chances for this championship have almost blown away. As well as RBR chances for WCC. 42.5 points of difference and just 3 races to go. Brawn GP is virtually WCC.

    And very disappointing comment of F Alonso. That was not the moment for making that kind of declarations, he should ask for some advise, or keep his mouth closed.

    1. Alonso owes a lot to Flavio and friends remain friends despite the wrongdoings. May be u havent been frieds to anyone thats why u r saying this. Why do u always want to be on majority side. Bravo Alonso, u have rebuffed the trend…

      1. Alonso owes a lot to Flavio

        I think Alonso owes more to Renault, and its 700 employees working within the team.

        The press today is highlighting his support to Flavio, not the congratulations and support he sent to the Team, who needed it much more than Flavio, under the current circumstances.

        1. Most of Renault employees owes a lot to Flavio, so Alonso represented all team memberes emotion.They have got through hard time all together

  9. Mp4, for first few races maybe he’ll be slotting in but hopefully won’t be as disadvanatged as if Kimi was in car (by that I mean Alonso will be just settling in at Ferrar). But I do think, hope and pray Massa will be stronger than ever though I am bias with him.

  10. i fell asleep at the slumber car…i mean safety car. i’ll watch this again tonight and hopefully be asleep at a reasonable hour.

  11. Yes!!!! Lewis Hamilton WON!!!!!!!!! Congrats!!!!! He’s really strong this year…. ^_^

  12. At least they bring out the SC with that piece on wing on the track. Clearing it with waved yellows and a gap in the traffic was, finally, good common sense by race control.

    1. At least they didn’t… sorry!

  13. Little cool between Lewis & Nicole post race…what?

  14. Keith, what do you make of this and this ?

    1. I heard the Caubert quote earlier and I guess it’s not really a surprise, particularly in the light of Alonso’s remarks in the press conference, and the well-reported rumours we’ve heard all year.

      Haven’t seen the Raikkonen remarks anywhere else and I’m not taking them at face value from a story on F1-Live.

    2. Alonso also dedicated his 3rd place to Flabby O. Not a good thing if he was planning to stay at Renault.

  15. Good synopsis, but disagree that “Button didn’t bother chasing after Vettel…”. Initially was hunting him down nicely, getting the gap down to 1.2seconds until it became apparent that his front right brake was very marginal. Was at that point that Ross asked him to consolidate, having previously confirmed with Ted Kravitz that Button would be pressuring Vettel, who was nursing his own brakes following Webber’s and one of the sister team cars retiring from the same issue.

    Button has certainly seems to have the gods on his side, but 100% agree with Mika’s BBC post-race forum comment, that Jenson needs to finish this by winning the WDC with the throttle of his Brawn firmly wide open.

    For the first seven races, pundits couldn’t rain enough praise on JB for fully maximising excellent car his team put under him, but Singapore qualifying underlined exactly how much pressure must be weighing upon Jenson. Would be good for him, and the WDC I think, to see Button bring home some convincing results in these last 3 races, to silence the dissenters and make sure he is remembered as a winning champion, not a lucky one.

    Again, a huge thanks to K and the mods this weekend. F1F brings a great dimension to my enjoyment. Grand job folks.

    1. Thanks Salty, and as ever I echo the thanks to our live blog moderators, they keep everything running smoothly and it was a long race today.

  16. Hi everybody :)

    Hamilton was untouchable today; too bad for Nico and Vettel, big mistakes. I’m happy for Glock and Alonso.

    The GP was boring though. :(

  17. Fantastic race from Lewis! Well done golden-boy. Very happy as well that FA was in the podium. Maybe a glimpse of what is to come next year…

    1. Couldn’t agree more about Alonso today. A great drive from a great racer. Alonso in Ferrari against Hamilton in the McLaren next year promises to be a gem. Can’t discount Kimi and Massa either, gonna be one hell of a show.

      1. Yeah and it’s not the first time this year he’s finished ahead of faster cars piloted by drivers who made mistakes he didn’t. A very good job once again.

        It’s frustrating that he hasn’t got an experienced enough team mate to be a worthy frame of reference. But it looks increasingly likely he’ll be alongside Massa next year, which will be fascinating.

        1. And there is the beauty in next years probable line-up. Alonso will have Massa to keep him honest. Hamilton will have his hands very full with Kimi.

          No major design changes, so both teams should be right on the bubble in 2010.

  18. Thought it was a bit like watching a Test Match but only a bit because the tactics worked out in 2 hrs rather than five days (yawn)
    I would like to see Button win the championship next week so that we have two races left for him to give it full welly.
    In my view, Rosberg has done enough to earn a better team, Vettel has been a great kid this year but less of the kid next year please, Mark will be a real asset to the commentary box soon having been of great value on track. Rubens deserves a good seat more than Kimi does (said it was my view) Fernando now needs to keep his nose very clean for the rest of his brilliant career, Lewis is Lewis and thank goodness for that.

  19. I don’t understand this… how can people say anything about Hamilton’s race today? I’m a die-hard Alonso fan, I hate Hamilton’s guts, but… his racing today was perfect… he might have had some trouble if Rosberg and Vettel didn’t make silly mistakes, but hey, finally, he didn’t do any silly mistakes and took advantage of other people’s ones… that’s how you win races and championships. He fully deserved it today, it’s not an easy race…

  20. Those guys at f1.com thinks like Keith. They even got similar heading for the Race review article

    1. Not a great surprise – this race was short on storylines :-(

    2. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      27th September 2009, 19:19

      Well, how would you head this piece? Martians attack Earth will cheeseballs?

      1. I would have make a joke out of all the deja vu. With Grosjean at Turn 17 and finally ending with the podium looking very much familiar. I’m sure Rosberg must be feeling some coincidences too, with penalties and 2nd place.

      2. Singa-bore GP?

      3. will cheeseballs what?

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