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GP Week : Issue 65
F1 SINGAPORE >> AFTER all of the controversy surrounding the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, its 2009 running was no less eventful. The Safety Car still came into play, and there was some pretty questionable driving and some very silly mistakes. But unlike in 2008, the winner made his own luck. Lewis Hamilton was in scintillating form at the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix, turning his third pole position in four races into his second race win of the season. He had two main rivals for the win, both of them German, and both of them threw what slight chance they had of beating the World Champion down the toilet by self-destructing at the most vital moment. Third on the grid, it was Nico Rosberg who blasted into second at the start and, as Hamilton's McLaren struggled with an intermittently working KERS unit, the Williams man was able to keep his former karting team-mate in sight for the opening period of the race. Rosberg hit the self-destruct button at his first pit-stop, however. Simply too eager to get back out on track and racing again, he completely fouled up the pit exit, crossing not only the solid white line but the high kerb that separated the exit from the track. A drive-through penalty handed to him just as the Safety Car emerged for an incident between Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld cost him a shot at the win, at the podium and, ultimately, at points. Rosberg's brain fade handed Sebastian Vettel second position, and it was the championship hopeful who put up the most serious challenge to Hamilton's victory. Cutting the gap back to under a second to the leader, Vettel was a man on a mission. So much was he pushing, however, that he broke the pit-lane speed limit and, thanks to a drive-through, demoted himself from the podium and down to fourth. What that meant was that Timo Glock -- another German -- who had driven a solid and consistent Grand Prix for Toyota, inherited second position, as he often seems to do on days when his rivals lose their heads. He held his nerve, but could not challenge Hamilton, just as Alonso in third could not challenge Glock. It was a well deserved podium for Alonso and Renault, who together had endured a week from hell courtesy of the 2008 Singapore GP scandal. Fourth went to the battling Vettel, in spite of losing his wing mirror and part of his diffuser as he pushed the limits of adhesion around the bumpy and dusty circuit. Vettel's missed opportunity to capitalise on a disappointing weekend for Brawn was compounded with Button finishing in fifth and Barrichello in sixth, meaning that while Vettel's gap to Button shrinks by one point to 25, Button's lead over his team-mate increased by a single point to 15. Heikki Kovalainen made it a double points haul for McLaren with a fairly uninspiring seventh, while Robert Kubica grabbed points in a heavily revised BMW in eighth. While the second Singapore Grand Prix may not have been quite as thrilling as its first appearance on the calendar, there seems little question it will be remembered with a lot less controversy. In just two years it has firmly cemented itself onto the calendar as a true challenge of man and machine and, in one of the most vibrant 24-hour cities in the world, it was Hamilton who would party the hardest. On this form, I wouldn't bet against him challenging for third in the championship; an astonishing feat when one considers the mountain he's been forced to climb this season. 25