Alonso holds back Vettel for close win (Singapore Grand Prix review)

Fernando Alonso moved a step closer to the championship with an impressive win on the streets of Singapore.

He came under sustained pressure from Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages and crossed the line just three tenths of a second ahead of the Red Bull.

But Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes suffered a severe blow after contact with Mark Webber put him out of the race.

The race got off to an orderly start with the leading drivers all keeping their positions: Alonso ahead of Vettel – just – and Hamilton. Jenson Button had beaten his team mate to the front corner but Hamilton out-braked him comfortably to take third place back.

Mark Webber held onto fifth at the start. Within two laps the safety car was out and Red Bull took a pivotal decision to pit the championship leader while his title rivals stayed onto the track.

This was a significant gamble but one that ultimately allowed him to get ahead of the two McLarens. It wouldn’t have worked if he hadn’t made such rapid progress through the traffic: he took Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher, each making mistakes at turn three.

The front runners spent a long time on the super-soft tyres, with Alonso gradually increasing his lead over Vettel to around three seconds.

The McLarens dropped back at a similar rate to begin with, then began losing time more quickly. They finally pitted on laps 28 and 29, Hamilton first, and both returned to the track behind Webber.

Alonso and Vettel came in together on the next lap and returned to the track in the same order, Vettel making a slow getaway. But once he returned to the track he was vastly quicker, slashing into Alonso’s slender lead.

But the return of the safety car temporarily suspended the fight at the front. Kamui Kobayashi had put his Sauber in the barrier at turn 18 and Bruno Senna had followed him in.

Hamilton and Webber collide

At the restart Alonso ran wide at turn 20 but Vettel wasn’t able to get close enough to pass. Nor did he seem to have the same performance advantage once the race had resumed.

Webber was held up getting past the two Virgins and Hamilton seized is chance. He drew past on the outside on the way into Memorial corner and was clearly ahead.

But Webber’s front-right wheel tagged Hamilton’s left-rear. The contact was enough to put Hamilton out but Webber, despite clear damage to the front wheel, continued and finished.

Despite being urged on by his team, Button wasn’t able to get close enough to Webber to try a move of his own. Nor could Vettel do much about Alonso – until the final laps.

The mid-race safety car spared the leaders much in the way of traffic until the final lap. As Alonso picked his way through traffic Vettel closed and as they rounded the final corner Vettel was just three tenths of a second behind Alonso.

But he wasn’t close enough to pass – not that he could have, with the yellow flags being waved for Heikki Kovalainen’s smouldering Lotus.

Nico Rosberg had a typical quiet run to fifth place, which Rubens Barrichello was promoted to sixth when Robert Kubica made a late pit stop with a puncture.

Kubica battled his way back up to seventh with a string of passes on both Toro Rossos, team mate Vitaly Petrov, Felipe Massa, Nico H?â??lkenberg and finally Adrian Sutil.

Massa salvaged tenth place after starting last. He pitted on the end of the first lap but with so many other cars pitting after the first safety car period he couldn’t make much progress.

He finished behind H?â??lkenberg, who barged past Petrov earlier in the race, both going off the track at turn seven.

Jaime Alguersuari was 12th after being forced to surrender his 11th-placed starting position on the grid and start from the pit lane due to a water leak.

Michael Schumacher had a bruising run to 13th. He was hit by Kobayashi early in the race, then returned the favour to the Sauber driver’s team mate Nick Heidfeld.

Too hot for Kovalainen

Kovalainen’s drama began when he made contact with Sebastien Buemi, who finished 14th. It severed a fuel line, prompting a huge fire.

He elected not to pit his Lotus and parked on the start/finish line. The back of the car now completely ablaze, Kovalainen grabbed a fire extinguisher and set about dousing the flames while the other cars completed the final two laps. Despite all this, the safety car was not summoned a third time.

Kovalainen’s retirement left Lucas di Grassi as the highest-finishing of the new teams’ cars in 15th.

Team mate Timo Glock had an excellent run early in the race. He avoided pitting during the first safety car period and successfully kept Adrian Sutil behind for nine laps.

His race was compromised by the second safety car period, which came after Alonso had lapped him but before Kovalainen had been lapped. He later retired.

Alonso’s victory means he is now within 11 points of Webber with four races remaining. The 15 points Webber scored today thanks to the strength of his front wheel could prove very valuable.

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99 comments on Alonso holds back Vettel for close win (Singapore Grand Prix review)

  1. Great race from Alonso. That’s his first ever grand slam in Formula One.

  2. In retrospect I think Heikki was right as he said he didn’t want to go to the pits when the car could explode.

    Excellent job by Fernando. Seb did well today too. I’m sorry for Ham fans as it was a shame esp after Monza.

    • Right Steph, thats why he stopped in front of red bulls pit wall ;)

    • thats interesting reasoning, but it does look like it makes sense

    • Jack Holt said on 26th September 2010, 18:39

      I thought that was what Heikki was up to, good decision.

      • codesurge said on 26th September 2010, 20:44

        A little disappointing to see that Heikki had to resort to putting out the fire himself. Where were the marshals, especially since he was on the start/finish straight?!

        • I really appreciate the marshals for volunteering and putting themselves in dangerous situations sometimes but all weekend they did seem slow to react like when Bruno stopped on track. I would have thought given that Heikki was on fire that they would have moved with a little more gusto.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 26th September 2010, 21:37

            Yeah, that was a bad showing from the marshals, and made Heikki look good. Singapore may want to up the ante in training their marshals for next year’s race.

        • spankythewondermonkey (@spankythewondermonkey) said on 27th September 2010, 8:50

          the start finish straight is pretty caged in. unless heikki stopped at a marshal post, they’d always need to run to the car. there will be very few, if any, marshal posts along the S/F straight. it’s kinda dominated by the pits ;-)
          what heikki did, in returning to the car with an extinguisher, was incredibly brave, but i don’t think you can blame the marshals for not being where he stopped.

  3. I think Alonso was a little fortunate with the timing of the second safety car, it looked like Vettel had a significant pace advantage on the fresh primes and would have put him under severe attack.

    But besides that, a flawless race from the front two, and a very entertaining affair. Red Bull are in a great position to seal their first constructors’ championship, that’s for certain. But Alonso is now a massive threat in the drivers’ contest. Webber for me remains marginal favourite but Alonso is not far back. McLaren in trouble going forward unless something changes fast.

    • You could say that both Vettel and Alonso were lucky because of the 2nd safety car…. That way Vettel didn’t risk his Alonso’s race by trying to overtake when he had better rubber.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th September 2010, 18:05

        I think the second safety car was a blessing for Alonso: Vettel was charging at him when it came out and it gave him a breather. It also means he caught far fewer lapped cars than he might have done. I don’t see how the second safety car helped Vettel.

        • Keith? I think “other Andy” meant that if not for the SC, Vettel may have got just close enough to do something stupid….

          :)

  4. Fantastic race from both Alonso and Vettel. It was very close! Vettel was just 0.2s off at the end.
    Now I think Mclaren loosing their momentum, so it will be harder to fight againt Ferrari and Red Bull.
    But title battle is still opened.
    I betted Alonso or Webber, but today’s performance of Webber make me doubt about him.
    Maybe Red Bull could kill each other, and Alonso could be suffered from engine problemm
    so I’m not sure about championship anymore. it’s little frustrating, but also very exciting.

    anyway, Is there anyone knows engine and gearbox allocation site?

  5. Tiffiamo Insieme said on 26th September 2010, 17:00

    Mark Webber grabbed 15 points today, without his gamble with the early pitstop he would probably have been fourth after Jenson Button and scored 12 points. So the gamble paid off but not very much. Still these 3 pt can be decisive for the WDC

    • F1iLike said on 27th September 2010, 0:20

      He’d rather have been fifth since Hamilton would have been still in the race.

    • But in that case he would have been behind in 3rd Hamilton as well (no crash between the 2 o them), so the difference is more than 3 points

  6. roberttty said on 26th September 2010, 17:01

    Keith,

    no mention of Kubica’s charge?

  7. One thing we learned from the race is that the new tests and ‘rule clarifications’ have done diddley squat in terms of reducing the margin between the ‘flexi wing’ cars and those of the outfit from Woking on high downforce, non power circuits.

  8. Quite a boring race, but some amazing drives from Alonso, Vettel, Webber and Kubica. Nice setup for the rest of the season :)

  9. Allie500 said on 26th September 2010, 17:11

    Mark Webber is the dirtiest driver in the history of F1. That is the second time his reckless driving has cost Hamilton. He doesn’t deserve the championship. If I was Hamilton, I would purposely take him out in a couple of the next races. Webber has purposely ruined Hamilton’s championship, the least Hamilton can do is return the favor.

    I am shocked that he wasn’t given a drive through for it. He clearly was beat and he recklessly went in there and took Hamilton out. Another embarrassing episode for Formula 1.

    • Tiffiamo Insieme said on 26th September 2010, 17:14

      Haha, perfect, an all-out war between WEB and HAM. ALO couldn’t ask for anything better.

    • Don’t worry, for Hamilton’s sake he seems dejected from the fact the same thing has happened twice in a row, but he will bounce back, and if he does get a bit of good luck then it will be looking rosy by Abu Dhabi.

      Lewis Hamilton is NOT out of contention!

    • Let me completely disagree: another great episode for Formula 1. What a race!

      Stewards not protecting Hamilton punishing a race incident with Webber doesn’t mean that this should be an embarrassing race as you define it.

      F1 racing is not only about Hamilton wining and Webber is not the dirtiest at all, please let’s be fair with those who race against your beloved Hamilton.

      But don’t worry, Ham is talented enough to strike back as the gap between these fab five is really small.

      Any case, my pennies go for Alonso as champion at Abu Dhabi.

      • Allie500 said on 26th September 2010, 17:43

        It’s not about protecting one driver over the other. Its about protecting the integrity of the sport.

        This is a recurring theme with Webber, he did the same thing to Vettel. He can’t stand being passed and when it happens he almost can’t help himself and he just gives the other driver a nudge. He’s just reckless, that’s a fact. His own driving history speaks for itself.

        Webber would really fit in over here in NASCAR.

      • ExParot said on 26th September 2010, 18:57

        I really think Webber, when he saw hamilton ahead, tried to take both of them out and got away with it.
        Remember Hamilton had already past him, so this was not Webber holding the racing line, but coming from behind and late braking into an ever diminishing gap.
        I think it was intentional and he was very very lucky and Hamilton was not :(

        • Why would he let Fernando take 25 points out of him, and Seb 18, to stop Hamilton taking 3 more points (or 6 points on turnaround) off him? Ridiculous.

        • Wrong, Hammy had technically passed him, but they were still side by side. Mark had every right to stay put. The same pass at the same corner was perfectly executed by Kubica at the end of the race. Hamilton should have left more room. In reality, Mark was very lucky not to damage his car more than he did and I think it was a very foolish move on Marks part and a small lapse of judgment on Hammys part (he even said he couldn’t see him anymore and ‘thought’ he wasn’t there).

          But, the bottom line is that was 100% a racing incident and it would have been very sad if they had penalized any one involved.

    • You have a kink on your eye allie500, you cant see straight.
      That incident was CLEARLY hammerton’s fault.
      Just look at the kubica/sutil overtake in the same exact turn, they made it through just fine because kubica stayed wide enough to avoid collision.
      There was plenty of room for hammerton to do same.
      Reckless driving is hammerton at monza too.
      That kid can wreck a steel ball.

      • David A said on 26th September 2010, 21:06

        Well, your sight is not any better if you couldn’t see that it was a racing incident. Hamilton went for the pass and as he was executing it, neither driver left the other enough room, and Hamilton got unlucky that he retired. Simple as.

      • anakincarlos said on 27th September 2010, 0:16

        I would like to know how many tyres hamilton has slashed with his front wing so far.

  10. It will be extremely sad if kubica never gets a championship fighting car. If he was in a red bull this year, he would’ve won the WDC like 5 races ago!

    I know about one race at small ages where kubica qualified ahead of hamilton, but hamilton passed him at the start or something. What happened to other races between these two in their youths? Really feel these two are the best on the grid.

    Anyway great 2nd half of the race!

  11. MacademiaNut said on 26th September 2010, 17:26

    Fantastic drive by Alonso today. I liked Alonso during his Renault (blue/yellow livery) days as he was considered an underdog and defeated Ferrari to clinch WDC twice. Now, you can see the same drive in him. Despite the fact that he drives for Ferrari, if he continues to drive like this, I am all for him to win the WDC.

    Too bad for HAM though. He goes through inside, his wheel goes off. He goes outside, still gets hurt. Hopefully, he will bounce back in the next few races.

  12. David BR said on 26th September 2010, 17:43

    That was great driving from Alonso, all weekend. Any more of that and he’ll be justifying his personal takeover at Ferrari and re-earning his tag as best driver out there. Congratulations.

  13. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 26th September 2010, 17:52

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say Alonso was the driver of the race or the weekend, but the race winner deserved it. After all, no-one could beat him!

  14. ExParot said on 26th September 2010, 18:27

    I think it was bad form from Webber to barge into Hamilton like that.

    It is clear that he intended to take both of them out of the race because there is no way on earth he would have made through that corner with Hamilton ahead. An I think it is easy to see from the interviews that he could not believe his luck.

    Webber should be ashamed and I’m surprised he wasn’t punished :(

    • Jack Holt said on 26th September 2010, 18:50

      Webber couldn’t afford to DNF. My initial reaction was to blame Hamilton, but after seeing the replays Hamilton went as wide as possible to give Webber room, but as there wasn’t space for two cars, Webber should have conceded the corner. I think Webber was in the wrong, but I’m glad the stewards said it was a racing incident, the sport doesn’t want every contact to result in a penalty, IMO penalties should be reserved for stupid behaviour, not mistakes.

      • ” the sport doesn’t want every contact to result in a penalty”

        I agree with you there, but I think ‘intention’ should be taken into account.

        As for “Webber couldn’t afford to DNF”, well he could, if Hamilton was taken out too. At the end of the day what he was faced with to have points advantage markedly reduced or maintain the same place on a day when he wasn’t competitive. Its a win/win either way, only it worked far better than he anticipated.

        The more I think about it the more I think Webber knew from before the race that taking Hamilton out is a possibility!

        I really cant see how Webber

    • “I think it was bad form from Webber to barge into Hamilton like that.”

      He hardly barged into Hamilton when he was as close to the inside kern as he could get. He just went too deep and Hamilton pulled across too much as he couldn’t see him.

      They both didn’t give an inch. 50/50 possibly avoidable if either driver had backed off but then they wouldn’t be them. Just my opinion though! :)

    • Let me say it to you too…
      You have a kink on your eye ExParot, you cant see straight.
      That incident was CLEARLY hammerton’s fault.
      Just look at the kubica/sutil overtake in the same exact turn, they made it through just fine because kubica stayed wide enough to avoid collision.
      There was plenty of room for hammerton to do same.
      Reckless driving is hammerton at monza too.
      That kid can wreck a steel ball.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th September 2010, 19:51

      Racing incident, just like the stewards said. Both of them could have done a little more to avoid it.

  15. It looks like Webber’s drive for the WDC is over…pay back is going to be a B_T_H

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