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GP Week : Issue 168
26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> SINGAPORE Bruno Senna into a gearbox change and subsequent five-place grid drop. McLaren were aware of the fact that they were at risk of seeing Hamilton retire on Sunday, but decided that their best option was to take that risk rather than face a certain grid penalty on a track where overtaking can present something of a challenge. You win some, you lose some, and Hamilton lost it all in Singapore. The pre-race assumption was that an on-track retirement would bring out one of Singapore’s mandatory Safety Cars, but action continued unimpeded by little more than waved yellows. Ten laps later, however, the first Safety Car of the evening was brought out when Narain Karthikeyan slid over the marbles and parked his HRT in the wall. At last, there was something to write home about. From that moment onwards, the character of the race changed utterly – a dreary procession became an incident and penalty fuelled drama, with retirements aplenty and battles for position throughout the pack. Maldonado managed a single lap under the first Safety Car before he was forced into retirement thanks to hydraulics failure. At least, he would have done had he followed the pit wall’s instructions to box when the problem was first identified. Instead the Venezuelan elected to remain out on track for a further two laps before finally admitting defeat. It was impressive that the Barcelona race winner managed to hang on for as long as he did – from the start of the race it was clear that the Williams was not in the best of shape, although it was clouds of brake dust that alerted those watching to the fact that Maldonado was not long for the race. When racing was about to restart on lap 39, Button and Vettel had a near miss behind the Safety Car. While their close call received little attention from the stewards during the race, it was the subject of a three hour post-race investigation that concluded with no penalties being imposed on either driver for what was determined to be a racing incident. The restart itself brought about a whole new set of problems – and another excursion for Bernd Maylander – when Michael Schumacher rear-ended Jean-Eric Vergne in what appeared to be a colossal misjudgement in the dark, but which the Mercedes driver blamed on mechanical issues. The stewards disagreed, and after the race issued the German driver with a ten-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix, justifying their Gearbox gremlins halted Hamilton Lewis got a clear run from the start The Safety Car disrupted some strategies