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GP Week : Issue 168
Vettel drove superbly to secure his second successive win around the streets of Singapore and narrow the gap to Alonso in the standings. The young German looked imperious throughout free practice – pole and the race victory was his to lose. Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan and he started third behind Hamilton and the blisteringly quick Maldonado, but quickly dispatched the Williams driver on the run to turn one before inheriting the lead when pole-man Hamilton suffered a gearbox failure. Webber, meanwhile, finished tenth (demoted to 11th) after his strategy was destroyed by the second Safety Car period, but was later given a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage by exceeding the track limits. It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Mercedes. Friday practice was spent testing a reworked exhaust package without any significant improvements in pace. Both Rosberg and Schumacher made it into Q3 but elected not to complete hot laps. This proved to be a wise move; Rosberg had a decent first stint and kept the Lotus duo at bay in the closing stages to finish fifth. Schumacher, on the other hand, retired with extensive front-end damage, caused when he ploughed into the rear of Vergne’s Toro Rosso after the first Safety Car intervention on lap 38. It was nip and tuck between Hamilton and Vettel during free practice, but the Briton was on another planet in qualifying to snatch McLaren’s fourth consecutive pole – something the Woking-based team last achieved in 1999 with Mika Hakkinen. Hamilton led from the start and kept Vettel at bay until a gearbox failure brought his McLaren to shuddering halt on lap 23. From fourth place, Button nipped past Maldonado’s Williams at turn one and was gifted second as a result of his team-mate’s demise, which is where he stayed until the chequered flag. Lotus team-mates Raikkonen and Grosjean salvaged sixth and seventh place results from what was evidently a challenging weekend for the Enstone-based outfit. Both drivers were off the pace in practice and qualifying, Grosjean setting the eighth fastest time and Raikkonen failing to make it out of Q2 in 12th. Incredibly, eight points for Raikkonen means he retains third in the Drivers’ standings, despite having yet to win a race in 2012. Grosjean took the flag just behind his Finnish team-mate in seventh, having allowed him through during the final stint. Ferrari never showed front-running pace but Alonso (aka Mr Consistency) outperformed the F2012 to clinch the final podium spot in what was a challenging race. The Spaniard qualified in his customary fifth place but took advantage of others misfortune to take 15 points for third – Singapore winner Vettel now stands as Alonso’s biggest title threat, 29 points adrift. Despite limping into the pits with a puncture following a collision with Petrov’s Caterham at turn one, Massa showed well on the Prime tyres and staged an impressive comeback, culminating in an eighth place finish. Despite halting development of the VJM05, Force India was competitive for the duration of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Di Resta converted that pace to sixth on the grid and a career-best fourth place result, bettering his previous best; sixth place last year at Singapore. The Scot kept championship leader Alonso honest throughout but didn’t quite have the pace to challenge for the podium. Hulkenburg was less fortunate, as his strategic gamble was hampered by traffic and untimely Safety Car interventions – 14th place was all he could achieve. Red Bull Mercedes McLaren Lotus Ferrari Force India TEAM-BY-TEAM: SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 36 GPWEEK.com // 36 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> SINGAPORE