Hamilton wins as Button closes on title

2009 Singapore Grand Prix

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

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120 comments on Hamilton wins as Button closes on title

  1. 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. :(

  2. Carl 27 said on 27th September 2009, 18:14

    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…

    • 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.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th September 2009, 19:38

        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.

        • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. adaptalis said on 27th September 2009, 19:09

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

  6. steph90 said on 27th September 2009, 19:24

    Mussolini’s Pet Cat that would grab attention though :P
    And nooo Keith they just saw how great this site was and borrowed a few ideas ;)

  7. Keith as already said above the new Renault director confirmed that ALO is leaving at the end of the season. TF1 added that the Ferrari deal is going to be announced this week.

  8. Alonso will suit better to Ferrari than Kimi. Kimi is fair and honest and racing only on track.

    • mp4-19b said on 27th September 2009, 20:09

      I think you’ve made a gem of a comment GP1. this comment must be embedded on F1F for a long time.

      • NomadIndian said on 27th September 2009, 20:55

        I second that.

        I used to be a Schumi fan and hence a Ferrari fan.Did not root for Kimi coz he was at McLaren. Very happy when moved he to Ferrari.But now if Kimi moves to McLaren I will get myself one of those blazing Victory tees to wear next year. :)

        • Martin said on 28th September 2009, 1:48

          As a mercedes owner you would think I would adore mclaren, but I dont. They are a good team that I think overall play fair.Yes I know about the stepney thing but I have never held them totally at fault on that. That being said I have always liked kimis driving especially in 2006 when he was driving the wheels of the car with a flatspotted tire in front of alonso and it was drive like hell and win or drive like hell break and loose, he didnt even think about nursing it for 2nd. When he went to ferrari he drove the same way and won the wdc. That is what real racers do. Hamilton and Alonso were trying to posture and get just enough to win the championship and kimi hung it all out and took it from them. I was amazed at his driving then.
          I wasnt a ferrari fan but I like massa as well.
          Iam not a Hamilton fan at all but I do admit his abilities, and watching him at monza this year was refreshing to see him drive the car for all it had and try for either 2nd place or nothing.(He got nothing, but his effort was recognized)
          This leads me to a real quandry as I like kimi and massa but they are on different teams next year. I can only hope that hte championship comes down to kimi or massa. I still cannot pull for either team but I can the drivers.
          Hopefully Reubens will stay at Brawn and we will have a good season all over especially if Williams can make their car just a little better as rosberg is showing a new competitive streak with the car. If they can get hulkenberg comfortable it might be the best season yet as this one needs to be behind us.

  9. Patrickl said on 27th September 2009, 19:05

    What on earth happened with Sutils penalty? They gave him a reprimand and a $20,000 fine. ***?

    First he rams Alguersuari in a pathetic attemp to … yeah to what? He was nowhere near an overtaking opportunity. That normally would have been a drive through penalty (like for instance Bourdais 2008, Vettel 2009 and Webber 2009 got)

    The he keeps the peddle down and rams Heidfeld. Again completely ridiculous and something that should land him a drive through penalty.

    So instead of 2 drive through penalties (translated to grid penalties for the next race), he doesn’t get a disqualification or at the very least a very severe grid penalty. No, he gets a fine!!!

  10. Did anyone notice Kovi was different in interviews and his general body language? He looked like a guy that has finally been told his fate.

    I feel sorry for him, he is a nice bloke and certainly quick on low fuel, but he’s just not aggresive enough in races and doesn’t know how to overtake.

    • mp4-19b said on 27th September 2009, 20:55

      Yeah. I noticed that too. I think he must have known his fate by then, but I’m sure he’ll do a decent job at Renault alongside Kubica.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th September 2009, 22:16

      And Martin Whitmarsh hardly knew where to look when the BBC asked him if Raikkonen was joining McLaren for 2010.

      Something tells me he doesn’t join in the paddock poker games or he’d be rather poor by now…

    • Bigbadderboom said on 27th September 2009, 22:16

      Yeah it wasn’t nice to watch, he was visibly distressed, putting a brave professional front on it.
      He is a good driver and deserves a seat in F1, as MP4 says he would do a good job next to Kubica, it’s a shame because I thought he would florish at McLaren, but perhaps he has suffocated under the Hamilton shadow, Kimi will do better because of his “water off a ducks back” attitiude.

    • Mahir C said on 28th September 2009, 0:20

      Well thats what you get when you are 35 seconds behind your teammate after 15 laps.

      That has always been his problem really, he loses so much time in the 1st stint that what he does later in the race is irrelevant. He is much faster after the 1st pit stop.

    • Yes. Kov’s obviously quick as qualifying shows but that’s meaningless if you can’t consistently turn that into race good performances. 35 secs being Hamilton at Singapore – and that’s with a safety car – and 57 secs behind Hamilton at Monza before Hamilton dropped it on the last lap and was on the better strategy.

      It will be interesting if he can secure a position at one of the new teams next year.

  11. steph90 said on 27th September 2009, 21:00

    John H yep noticed it, very sad and uncomfortable to watch. I feel for him, he has potential and talent, his pace is there in qualifying yet never seems to deliver in races (hope he doesn’t turn into another Jarno it would be a waste). I hope Kovy gets a seat somewhere next year.

  12. Steph90 said on 27th September 2009, 22:10

    Aww, just realised next live blogs will be at about 2 and 5 in the morning. I’ll try not to be too grumpy :P

  13. Mel Hutchinson said on 27th September 2009, 23:22

    Excluding Monte Carlo, street circuits are for the birds. Formula 1 should be run on proper race tracks. Valencia, Albert Park, and Singapore have absolutely no place in Formula 1 when we have so many great tracks around the world that are unused. As long as Bernie has his way and we fans continue to watch, proper racing circuits will die a slow death. I’m as guilty as anyone because I religiously wake up at 4:30am on Sunday mornings (I live in the Pacific time zone) to watch. I wish Bernie could be voted out just like Max. Sorry for the rant but in my humble opinion we need to make a big deal out of this issue. I’ll move on to today’s race. I enjoyed watching the night racing under the lights. I’ll bet it’s a real treat to see in person. I’ve seen night sports car racing at the 12 hours of Sebring and it is spectacular. If the drivers feel the conditions are safe for racing, I won’t oppose it. My question is ……..would they say anything if they didn’t feel safe and face the wrath of Bernie? As far as the circuit is concerned it appears that improvements in the runoff areas have been made but Singapore should be embarrassed by the sheer amount of dust and grit on the track. There are no relatively safe places to pass, far too many corners, and the entire circuit is located inside concrete walls. On the upside, even a novice observer will quickly realize how special the drivers in formula 1 are. As a spectator I want to see some passing, I want to see the cars run wide open at some point in the race. I want the drivers to feel like they can take a chance and not worry about a concrete wall as the consequence. I want to see racing and not just a time trail. Lewis Hamilton did a fantastic job of managing his tires, breaks and possibly a small problem with his KERS system. Nico Rosberg made a critical mistake and paid dearly for it. Rubens Barrichello stalled his car on his second pit stop and allowed Jensen Button to finally finish ahead of him. Timo Glock drove an excellent race and made the most of his opportunity. Fernando Alonso got the most performance possible out of the Renault and finished a very strong third. I guess I never really stopped complaining but I thank each and every one of you for reading my opinion. Oh, just one more thing……..could someone please explain the rules to me because I just don’t understand why Mark Weber was penalized. Maybe the rules don’t apply to everyone.

  14. It was a shame about Webber, but his brakes probably wouldnt have lasted anyway.

  15. iBlaze said on 28th September 2009, 0:58

    I think the most remarkable thing to come out of this race was that Nick Heidfeld failed to finish it!

    Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration – it wasn’t as bad as Valencia. But still, I thought the changes to the circuit were supposed to enhance overtaking? I actually think there was even less overtaking in this year’s race!

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