Start, Singapore, 2010

Alonso holds back Vettel for close win

2010 Singapore Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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 Hulkenberg 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 Hulkenberg, 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.

2010 Singapore Grand Prix

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