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GP Week : Issue 169
MARK-DOWN For his part, Mark would have been ropeable after Singapore. There was Seb, qualifying P3 and inheriting another win. And here was Mark, qualifying P7 (not helped by a free-practice brush with the wall) and finishing nowhere thanks to the pit perch making difficult calls at what turned out to be the wrong times. Mark re-signed with RBR partly in order to maximise his chances of winning the 2012 World Championship. Now he must focus on Suzuka, Korea, India and all points west. He’s too good not to be looking at another couple of wins (minimum). BURNING BRUNO I suspect Bruno Senna is so accustomed to having a rough ride this year that he didn’t think twice about the massive heat build-up that engulfed his race from about half- distance onwards. It was only later, on the massage table, that he realized that he’d incurred mild back burns during the evening from what turned out to be an overheating electric loom. Bruno thus drove exceptionally well under the circumstances: late in the race his KERS unit failed and took with it the Renault engine. Mechanics were astonished to find that the front of the V8 had actually melted as a result of the seizure. SUPERB SEB Seb Vettel reminded us just how good he and the Adrian Newey Red Bull can be on street circuits by heading the times in FPs 1, 2 and 3. Qualifying was slightly less convincing, with Seb finding a reduction in grip as Q2 gave way to Q3: “I just don’t know what that happened,” he said later (about a groove that for most others was quicker as the night developed). “It’s just something to do with the temperature and the tyres.” He was quickly up to P2 in the race thanks to Pastor’s moment at Turn 1 – and was living in the turbulence of Lewis Hamilton when – grip still not quite right – he suddenly realized he had braked too late for the Singapore Sling. Neatly, he steered right, out of trouble. Lewis’s retirement handed him the race on a golden platter but there would be another moment of drama when Seb was leading the race behind the Safety Car on lap 38. With the re-start looming, he accelerated sharply towards Turn 16, then braked hard into the apex, attempting (as several drivers are now doing in this year of elusive tyre temperatures) to ‘heat-soak’ the brakes and thus the wheel rims (and, thus, the tyres on this grip-sensitive evening). Jenson, weaving behind the Red Bull, almost rammed the leader... A few drivers complained after the race that the Safety Car speeds were abnormally low in Singapore, ruining tyre pressures and temperatures. I guess the answer is that street circuits are notoriously difficult to subjugate – which in turn probably explains why no official action was taken over the Vettel-Button near-miss. 26 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPA 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: XXXXXXX