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???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???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. F1iLike said on 26th September 2010, 18:43

    I think today, and this weekend proves clearly it’s between Vettel and Alonso now since the Ferrari has got the speed back. And Vettel has had the upper hand on Webber about 2 years?! except those few races late first half of the season. Webber lives on those wins he had gifted to him.
    Mclaren will be off pace at the next races. Might be okay in Abu Dhabi though..

    • Gifted? If anything, Vettel possibly stripped him off a win in Turkey. Monaco and Spain were converted poles, Silverstone was an excellent start from the front row and Hungary was a ballsy strategy with some blindingly fast laps on worn tyres. Vettel may be the golden boy, but he has a lot to learn.

      • F1iLike said on 26th September 2010, 21:09

        Vettel AND Webber probably stripped Vettel of the win at Turkey. Monaco and Spain Webber was strong. But since Vettels chassi was damaged (which clearly showed at the next race with a new one) it’s hard to say. Silverstone was a good start yes, but if Hamilton’s front wing hadn’t always been up someones rear tire, the race would’ve unfolded differently probably. Hungary was a misstake from Vettel, or mixup – radio failure, blablbla and the race was gifted. Two out of four.

        • I could be mistaken, but didn’t Webber use a that same chassis Seb didn’t think was good enough (Liz I think) from after Valencia until Monza? That includes the two wins at Silverstone and Hungary.

      • David A said on 27th September 2010, 0:32

        How wasn’t he going to win at Hungary, what with the 2 second advantage? And sleeping teammate?

  2. Fer no.65 said on 26th September 2010, 18:51

    As a Webber fan, i think he got it a bit wrong.

    But what about those backmakers ahead of him? And Senna too! Lewis got stuck behind him for a third of a lap, before overtaking him!

    Appart from that, what happened to that rule, when the SC came out, the lapped cars could unlap themselves?

    It’d make restarts a lot more interesting, without such slow cars in the middle. Specially if the slow cars (like todays) are 5 secs slower than the rest of the field!.

    • That is an overlooked part of Hamilton losing the lead on the overlap. Sorry if Keith mentioned it (I actually have a hard time keeping up with the epic tomes Keith puts out in the few hours after a race!) I saw Hamilton have to drive behind Senna from corners 21 through 4 or 5. He lost about 3 seconds that lap if I remember the graphic correctly.

  3. Re the Hamilton and Webber incident, it must have been a fairly small impact, or Webber would not have been able to complete the race with such pace.

    The reason Hamilton retired was not due to the direct impact, but because his car went over the aggressive Singaporean curbs. Look at what happened to Sutil during practice.

    I think it is nonsensical to entertain the possibility that he ‘tried to take Hamilton out’, if this had happened at eg Spa, Ham would. Have carried on. As Ham himself identified, the curbs at Singapore are viscous. They are the culprit here.

  4. Ooh just thought this was a Grand Chelem for Alonso not just a hat trick so he went one better than the last race! Impressive. He now has as many wins as Jim Clark and 20 poles so the same as Damon Hill.

    Nico was great today but I think he’s just off quick Nick’s stat for most points without a race win.

    Possible fact: every time everyone starts to think a driver has got the momentum the said driver has a rubbish few races so could we all be a little more critical of Fernando? Much appreciated :) ;)

    • Sure, he just got lucky in qualifying as Vettel dropped it. Then only the SC saved him from being eaten alive by Vettel in the race.

      Only lucking into a win, and he will have his engine come back to haunt him very soon. And Ferrari is far from the fastest car. No way he will go for the title this year.

      Is that enough?;-}

      • LUCKY in quali…
        Alonso’s lap was so good that it made Vettel to be under pressure and make mistakes.
        Credit should be given where and when due.

        Vettel couldnt take pole on a tailor made Red Bull track which was evident in the race where Red BUll was quick on the primes.

        A fair and unbiased judgement is commendable.

  5. captain caveman said on 26th September 2010, 21:03

    interesting race even with sutils penalty.

    i would have to agree that webber and hamilton was a racing incident on this occasion. Eebber i recognise is way too similar to shumi for my liking in being over agreesive to protect his position even when it has been lost.

    what made me smile was when we saw hamilton entering his motor home and opening his door singnposted with his name…. and to his right was a large screen TV showing the exact same incident that caused him to retire from the race…. ( note watched on a BBC feed) :-)

  6. schooner said on 26th September 2010, 21:36

    Racing incident, but I would lay more of the blame on Webber.

    In the “if only” catagory….
    I seem to recall that Hamilton, at some point after the first safety car, was some 22 or 23 seconds ahead of Webber. With Webber surely to close that gap after he got by Barrichello(?), I was expecting to see Hamilton come in for his new rubber at that stage, possibly getting out ahead of Webber. By waiting as long as they did, no way was that gonna happen. A tactical error by McLaren, IMO.

    • it took them 30 secs to enter the pits, change tyres and then leave…

      i think never in the whole race the gap between LH and Mark was that big…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th September 2010, 21:46

      I seem to recall that Hamilton, at some point after the first safety car, was some 22 or 23 seconds ahead of Webber. With Webber surely to close that gap after he got by Barrichello(?), I was expecting to see Hamilton come in for his new rubber at that stage, possibly getting out ahead of Webber. By waiting as long as they did, no way was that gonna happen. A tactical error by McLaren, IMO.

      I’m looking at the data at the moment and that opportunity never existed. Writing up the analysis at the moment.

      • Yes, and having seen that analysis, at the end of the day, McLaren would have to recognize at the time Webber pitted, that their tires would go off completely in a few laps, and they would have then stopped as well to cover Webber. At the time of the first SC, they were thinking of challenging for the lead, when they should have been moving aggressivley to keep ahead of Webber and Rosberg. That is major hindsight, of course, but that stroke of insight and foresight is what you need to win these kind of races, and for once, RBR showed a spark on the pit wall.

  7. dyslexicbunny said on 26th September 2010, 21:37

    So apparently my DVR didn’t record it and missed the Speed replay. Any suggestions on how I can catch the race?

  8. Well deserved victory for Fernando, Vettel lost the victory in Qualifying. RBR-Renault did a great job on Mark’s strategy, getting him infront of both McLaren’s. I wonder why he was that much slower than Seb over the whole weekend…

  9. MikethePike said on 27th September 2010, 1:34

    Imagine redbull telling vettel to slow down and move over and let webber take the second place…. as Ferrari would have done had it been Massa / Alonso (either directly or through an unscheduled mystery pit stop).
    At least if either redbull driver or mclaren driver wins the WDC it will have been through having had to beat every other driver on the circuit.

    As for the suggestion Webber should have just bent over and let Hamilton drive round the outside him – come on you guys must be one eyed nuts, he’s trying to win the world drivers championship, any driver (Hamilton included) would have defended in exactly the same way, there was no shumi turn in involved so I think its in a different category. Webber conceding that corner would have been pretty weak. Any time a driver goes to drive round the outside of someone as Hamilton did you have to doubly make it stick – which is what makes those moves so brilliant when they work…100% a racing incident, good decision umpire.

    • That’s totally irrelevant because the drivers points standings. Don’t be naive and think that if Vettel had half the points of Webber that RBR wouldn’t have had Webber in 2nd place. the only difference between Mc, RBR, and Ferrari is that Ferrari is the only team that has a driver that has consistently been at half the points of the leading 5.

  10. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 27th September 2010, 9:18

    It was a good race for the Ferrari & like many says they are looking very strong they won in two different types of circuit. The incident between Webber & Hamilton was an racing incident for Hamilton this is his second DNF from a potential podiums if he loose this WC then he may hit his head on the wall. Good charge from Kubica in the tail end of the race, as well as for both Nico’s & Barrichello. Schumi had a day to forget & it was nice to see the young Japanese showing no respect to the master as he does what Schumi used to do to other in the old days.

  11. Melchior (@melchior) said on 27th September 2010, 9:41

    I am waiting for a driver to say “Stuff you” and not be bullied off their line at the start of the race when the likes of Alonso or Vettel veers into the line of the driver next to them.

  12. Alonso is clearly the favorite for the WDC. All we need to do is rewind to 2008 and check .. In the last eight races of the season Alonso scored 48 points, which was more than any other driver (over the same period Massa scored 43 points and Hamilton scored 40 points).

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