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GP Week : Issue 65
Team-By-Team: Singapore Gra Weeks don't come much harder in Formula 1. A two year suspended ban for the 2008 Singapore GP crash scandal, the banning of former team chiefs Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, the emergence of a mystery mole at the team in "Witness X," Grosjean getting food poisoning, losing two huge sponsors ... and the small matter of a race to take part in. Things didn't get off to the best start when Grosjean buried his Renault into the wall at, you guessed it, Turn 17. The media centre burst into laughter. Even the Renault boys saw the funny side of it. Grosjean didn't seem on it all weekend. He qualified 19th and retired early on. As for Alonso, he qualified fifth and drove a beautiful race to take third position and the team's first podium, which he dedicated to Flavio. Bless. Another update package for Toyota arrived in Singapore and there was a genuine feeling that things might turn out better than expected. Top 10 times for Glock in practice pointed the way to a promising weekend, but even the brightest of optimists would have been shocked with the outcome. Trulli was struggling, and this showed itself hugely in qualifying where he stumbled out in 15th spot. Glock lined up sixth and had his eyes set firmly on points. While Trulli scrabbled around at the back all day, Glock was in mesmeric form and did what he does best. He kept his head when his countrymen Vettel and Rosberg lost theirs, and leapt up into second position for a richly deserved podium. It was just what the team needed in the run up to its home race in Japan. On a dirty track, McLaren found pace early doors in practice with Kovalainen in particular delighted with his set-up and the manner in which his car rode the bumps of the street track. Hamilton really didn't like the changes at Turn 10, which he said were more dangerous than the "tic tac" curves of 12 months ago. You'd never have known it in qualifying, though. Saved having to defend his provisional pole from Vettel and Rosberg by Barrichello's accident, Hamilton took his third pole in four races, while Kovalainen would ultimately line up eighth. In the race, Hamilton kept all his challengers behind him for a famous and richly deserved win, while Kovalainen looked uninspiring to record seventh, nowhere near where that car should have been given its race winning pace. BMW arrived in Singapore with an almost completely new car. A new engine cover, new front wing, rear wing, a new nose ... you name it, it was new. And it worked with both cars in the top 10 in practice. The promise shown in practice was replicated in qualifying, with both BMWs making it into the top 10. A huge result for the team. Heidfeld in eighth, however, had to suffer the heartbreak of starting the race from the pit-lane after having his gear ratios changed overnight. For the German, his race was over when Sutil left his brain at the hotel and stacked into him trying to retake the circuit after a spin. Kubica, meanwhile, dropped one place from his grid slot of seventh to take what he described as one of the most difficult points of his career. A promising improvement though. After the last few race weekends, Ferrari arrived in Singapore pretty positive about life, the world and everything. With Luca di Montezemolo making jokes about his 2010 driver line-up, it seemed all was well at Casa Ferrari. Then track running got underway. And the smiles stopped. Described by the team as "nothing to get excited about", Ferrari's practice times signalled a tough weekend ahead. And so it proved. Fisichella was dumped out of qualifying in Q1, with Raikkonen following him in Q2. The race was just as tough. Fisichella spent the Grand Prix battling over the last positions with Trulli and Liuzzi, while Raikkonen at least managed to keep it out of the wall at his bogey Turn 10. No points, and a hope for a return to form in Japan. 30