by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 168
22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: As Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line in Singapore, the roar of engines was muffled by the deafening crack and kaboom of fireworks and the smoke hung under the floodlights like pea soup. The script for the first 22 laps said it was going to be a Hamilton whitewash, before Lewis’ gearbox committed hara-kiri and the McLaren driver was forced to walk away from his car, head shaking. With it, his championship hopes may have stalled as well. I suppose if there was a silver lining it was that he knew he’d no longer have to talk to Eddie Jordan on the podium! Now I know a lot of people aren’t too keen on the new podium format, with the ticker-tape, piped-in music and celebrity interviewer. Personally, I’m not against it, I just wonder how sustainable it is given the small pool of ex-champion drivers and A-list fans who are available to do it. Case in point, they started the new format at Silverstone and already Niki Lauda has held the mic twice. This time the organizers went with former team boss turned BBC broadcaster EJ, and so the pitlane was even more packed than usual because we were all taking bets as to whether he’d get the top three drivers’ names confused (a la the infamous Paul McCartney inter view) or mention the last time he had stood on the podium (Magny Cours, 1999). The latter, I was sure, was a dead cert. There was a collective groan from the mechanics, media and guests as he stepped out onto the rostrum. However, EJ was surprisingly restrained, displaying showmanship without being a show-off – even if he was dressed like a waiter in a 1930s opium den. Sebastian Vettel is now 29 points behind Fernando Alonso. With Kimi Raikkonen third on 149 in a Lotus that seems to be going backwards, and Lewis suffering his third retirement in five races on 142, Vettel looks like the only man who can challenge Alonso in this final third of the season. He looked chuffed to stand on the top step for only the second time this year – I say ‘only’ because by this time last year he already had nine wins to his name. Jenson Button, who drove a typically mature race to third, looked nonplused because on 119 points he’s way off the top guns, even though he grasped 18 of those on Sunday. He was probably left shaken, too, when he so nearly crashed into Vettel behind the Safety Car; Seb had braked suddenly and Jenson, who was concentrating on his steering wheel functions, only realized at the last second. The pair discussed the incident with the stewards after the race. Alonso seemed reassured as he tasted the podium fizz for the eighth time this year. While a DNF could feasibly see his lead slashed to just four points in an instant, it is still commanding. He is probably the only driver that can still afford to drop a ball. Hamilton, I fear, has none left in the air. It’s great news that Singapore and Formula One Management have renewed their contract, as this race is the best thing to happen to F1 in years. Asia is where the money is, of course, and they also put on a stunning show. This was my fifth Singapore Grand Prix but the novelty of night racing, and more specifically the fun of partying all night with the paddock on the eve of the race, has yet to wear thin. On Saturday night, at the Amber Lounge, we were quaffing champagne with test drivers and team personnel until 6am. I even bummed a cigar off the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and drank something which claimed to be ‘gold-filtered water’ – well, just like a two-hour race with heavy tyre degradation, one has to pace one’s self ... OPINION OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS F1 Editor LEWIS DENIED AN 'EJ' EXTRAVAGANZA