Fernando Alonso scored his fourth win of the season in Singapore on Sunday night after a dramatic battle with Sebastian Vettel that saw them finish only two-tenths of a second apart after a race-long fight.
A slow-burn event finally exploded into life just past half distance when following a safety-car deployment after offs for BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi and HRT’s Bruno Senna, points leaders Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton collided while fighting for third place on the 36th lap.
The Englishman was pitched out of the race with broken suspension, and the Australian brought a vibrating Red Bull home third to increase his advantage in the title fight to 202 points to Alonso’s 191, Hamilton’s 182, Sebastian Vettel’s 181 and fourth-placed Jenson Button’s 177. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 383, McLaren 359 and Ferrari 316.
It was Vettel who made the best start, but Alonso chopped across the Red Bull’s bows to take a lead he never lost. After a lap Alonso was a second ahead, but it didn’t take long for the first safety-car deployment. This came on the third lap as Vitantonio Liuzzi’s suspension-damaged Force India was cleared away from its resting place just past the chicane, its demise the result of early contact with Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber.
Like Ferrari’s Felipe Massa at the end of the first lap – who started from the last position on the grid – Red Bull’s Mark Webber took advantage of the hiatus to switch from the soft-compound Bridgestone tyres to the more durable hard rubber, hoping to avoid stopping again. The Australian was followed by a host of midfield runners all hoping for similar strategic fortune. By the time racing resumed on the sixth lap, Webber was already back up to 10th as he swept past Timo Glock’s Virgin.
At the front Alonso quickly regained his rhythm, holding Vettel at bay by 1.3 seconds as Hamilton maintained third and Button began to drift back in fourth place.
Webber’s recovery took him past Schumacher when the former champion made a mistake under pressure on the 11th lap. His team mate, meanwhile, was steadily losing touch with Alonso, who had a 2.3 seconds lead after 12 laps as Hamilton followed a similar distance behind the Red Bull.
However, the Australian’s strategy came unraveled when he was unable to overtake Rubens Barrichello’s Williams, and from 16.5 seconds his deficit to Alonso had grown to 30 seconds after 16 laps. Over the radio, his team told him that he was now racing Hamilton for third place, rather than for the lead.
McLaren’s hopes of victory evaporated with serious rear tire wear, leaving Hamilton and Button to lonely races until the mid-race incident.
After that the fight for the lead was back on, as Vettel hounded Alonso mercilessly, less than a second behind. The German looked very aggressive on the harder-compound tires and soon closed Alonso down, but as the race just completed its 61 laps before the two-hour mark, the Spaniard kept the German at bay.
They raced past Heikki Kovalainen’s burning Lotus on the pit straight as they completed their penultimate lap, and were only two-tenths of a second apart. But, as Alonso won his fourth race of the year to move into second place in the title hunt, the gap was the same.
Webber was a relieved third from Button, while Nico Rosberg drove an unobtrusive race to fifth for Mercedes ahead of on-form Rubens Barrichello for Williams and Renault’s Robert Kubica, who drove superbly to repass the Toro Rossos of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, team mate Vitaly Petrov, Massa, Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Adrian Sutil after a Lap 45 stop for another set of tires.
The aforementioned finished in the reverse of the above order after running nose-to-tail for much of the race, and Kovalainen’s late departure with a blown engine and ensuing fire elevated Lucas Di Grassi to 15th as the highest-placed new team runner. He was the only one still standing, as Kovalainen was classified 16th.
Virgin’s Timo Glock had led that category until late retirement, while Lotus’s Jarno Trulli and HRT’s Christian Klien were stopped by mechanical problems and Senna hit Kobayashi’s damaged BMW Sauber, the Japanese driver having run into the wall of his own accord at Turn 18.
Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher was classified 13th after a hard day in which he was attacked and pushed into a wall by Kobayashi just before the Japanese driver’s incident, and then had one of his own as he shoved Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber into a spin and also spun himself.
Posted: October 4th, 2010
at 7:15pm by The Editor
Categories: Motorsports News
Comments: No comments