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GP Week : Issue 65
and Prix, Singapore After two races in which the team had rocked the establishment, it was back to earth with a bump in Singapore. Although practice times were better than expected, the team still held out little hope for a decent result. Their car still lacks downforce, and it was this issue which was expected to hurt them the most. In the end, it did. Qualifying was tough as Liuzzi lined up last with Sutil faring little better in 15th. Come the race, Liuzzi was fuelled light and Sutil heavy, but it did little. Liuzzi raced beautifully in the opening laps, making up places on a track on which overtaking is usually nigh-on impossible. Sutil seemed to have left his brain at the hotel. Trying to pass Alguersuari he spun. Then he tried to get back on track and nerfed Heidfeld. Nick was furious, Sutil was fined. You could almost hear Patrick Head screaming down the radio at Nico Rosberg. The car was quick, the win could have been in the bag, but Rosberg u ed his one shot and what could have been an incredible weekend for Williams ended in failure. After a good run in practice, Nakajima was upset to have missed out on Q3. He would start 10th after Heidfeld's gearbox issues, but it was Rosberg in third who held the advantage. A great start saw him rise up to second at Turn 1, and he was the only driver to challenge Hamilton in the early running. A stupid mistake on the pit exit after his first stop landed him with a drive-through, and all hopes of points were gone. Rosberg finished 11th, Nakajima 9th, and Williams was left to contemplate what might have been. Once again, Red Bull failed to capitalise on Brawn's failures to shine, and it is weekends such as the Singapore Grand Prix which will hurt the most when the team looks back on the season. The battle at the start of the weekend was between Brawn and Red Bull with both pushing hard. Webber crashed in second practice, but in qualifying it was the Brawns who pushed things too far. Second and fourth on the grid for Vettel and Webber looked promising for the race. As it was, Vettel should have been on the podium and could have taken the win but for a pit-lane speeding penalty. Webber suffered with brake wear and was pitched into retirement after his second stop. Vettel recovered to fourth but a podium, at the least, should have been his. With neither Toro Rosso driver having taken part in a Singapore night race, the learning curve was always going to be steep. It proved a harsher challenge for Jaime Alguersuari than Sebastien Buemi, however, and the Swiss driver acquitted himself well to the challenges. Come qualifying, both exceeded expectations with the Spaniard 17th and the Swiss making it into Q2 in 14th position. Points seemed out of the question, but there was still some confidence going around the team. Alguersuari had to retire from the race with brake issues, but Buemi was running well and could have challenged for points. In the end an extra pit-stop was called for after a fuel rig issue and then his gearbox gave up the ghost putting both STR drivers out on the same lap. Even when they have an o weekend, the team's major challengers somehow always seem to fail to capitalise. Singapore was a case in point. Any chances Button has of convincing us he's not getting completely freaked out by the run to the championship were shot to pieces in qualifying. He didn't look anywhere near the pace and was unable to explain why. Barrichello pushed so hard he crashed and brought out the red flags. The Brazilian took a gearbox change and dropped to ninth, while Button started 11th. In the race itself, it was Barrichello who looked the better of the two, again. However it was Button who made the better use of his strategy to finish ahead of his team-mate and increase his lead in the championship by a point. F1 SINGAPORE >> 31