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. what was Nico thinking?He threw a podium?

    The championship is over for Red Bull!
    It will be good for them to concentrate for next year car & let the two Brawn drivers fight.

    I think Jenson Button will be champion,all he needs to do is to stay behind Barrichello.

  2. According to the available evidence, it wasn’t Alonso’s fault that Symonds, Briatore and Piquet indulged in foul play. Alonso really was in a class of his own last year at Singapore and deserved the win (ie, if he did not have a part to play in the conspiracy). He proved it again with a brilliant 3rd place this year. He was my driver of the day, though I didn’t like him dedicating his podium to Briatore. His one-off bearded appearance though was cool. Alonso is a class driver – let’s not take that away from him. Any wonder Ferrari is pursuing him?

  3. mfDB, you ran away from the line I put to you. If there was a wall instead of a runoff, Webber would have had the pass because Alonso wouldn’t have “”blocked” him into it. Maybe Keith can post the video and we can see just where the cars were relatively from the previous corner where Webber was already outside and hads drive while Alonso was inside and had lost momentum. I’m thinking you are spinning it for Charlie. Even Todt says there are changes coming in top ranks. I have a fairly good track record predicting events and both Bernie and now Charlie are on my list.

    1. “Ifs” do not help.
      If there was a wall or a sand trap at Spa, Kimi wouldn’t have gone wide and would turn the first corner 5th or 6th!
      If in Singapore the kerbs were absent and the drivers were given all the available space we wouldn’t have this conversation now.

      Here are some video links:

      and Kimi at Spa (this video was linked to the previous one):

    2. motion, I’m not sure what you mean by running away from the line, i guess you mean a previous post.

      If there was a wall Webber would be in the hospital. Like Unicorn said, “ifs” are meaningless. If I was an F1 driver, I would have backed off and passed Alonso properly. I’m not spinning anything for Charlie, just discussing the rule of passing off the track as I’ve seen it applied since I started watching F1 22+ years ago. We’ve seen it time and time again, you cannot pass someone off the track. The isssue here isn’t if Webber did something illegal, that’s obvious. The only issue is the inconsistency with handing the penalties out.

      To say that Kimi went off at angle and his move was more illegal than Mark’s is insane. I think they were both illegal. You said that ‘just because Mark was going straight he shouldn’t be expected to back off’ (???) what really, he passed Alonso off the track….what does going straight have to do with that. Webber knows better and didn’t even complain about it (and of all the guys out there, Mark would have thrown a fit if he disagreed).

  4. Please, check this battle:
    would you be satisfied if someone got a penalty for driving and overtaking off-track?
    Wouldn’t you prefer to be able to see more of this and less penalties?

    1. Unicorn, did either of them get a penalty for that, I can’t remember, but I don’t think so. That was a crazy battle. they both ‘seem’ to be giving position back when they gain advantage (Kubica seems to do it at min 1:28.

      The rule seems pretty vague with that type of racing and going off track, were they bumped and did they gain an advantage.

      Just for argument sake, what if Buemi started 17th in Monza and just cut the turn 1 chicane, came back on track and was 7th. would anyone be satisfied with that?

      The point is, going off track and gaining advantage is and should be illegal.

      Even more important is that the rules are vague and the people handing them out are basically incompetent. I’m ready for a change in the system.

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