Singapore joined the Formula One calendar in 2008, and was the first night race in the history of the sport.
Unfortunately, that race will always be the race that was fixed by the Renault team organising one of the most controversial, unsporting moments I can ever remember. They had Nelson Piquet deliberately crash his car to bring the safety car out, for his team mate to win the race. Alonso has always denied all knowledge of the plan and has stated he was unaware that was going to happen. This race should have been taken out of the final standings for the championship as it was clearly fixed. But that is the last time I am going to mention this as I could be here all day whinging about that farce!
In the build up to the race, several announcements had been made regarding engines and driver changes. McLaren have finally announced they are ditching Honda, in favour of Renault engines. Renault have announced that they have signed Carlos Sainz for next season, and were planning on putting him in the car from the Malaysian Grand Prix, in place of current driver Jolyon Palmer. Everyone was made aware of this, apart from Palmer, who produced his contract and threatened legal action if he is replaced before the end of the season. Sergio Perez will stay with Force India for 2018.
Sebastian Vettel took pole from Max Verstappen. His title rival Hamilton was 5th, proving once again that the Mercedes struggles on the high downforce circuits. There was a 5-place grid penalty for Marcus Ericsson for changing his gear box.
This is the first time in 10 races in Singapore that it has rained during the race, with the grid having to decide on wet or intermediate tyres.
Hamilton has recently announced that he has gone vegan, and that may not be a bad plan as Max Verstappen ended up being the meat in a Ferrari sandwich going down to turn one, as Raikkonen appeared to steer towards Vettel, leaving Verstappen with nowhere to go. Raikkonen then hit Verstappen a second time, who collected Fernando Alonso – who had an amazing start – but could do nothing to avoid being hit by the Red Bull. Vettel kept going, even though there was fluid pouring out from his car which caused him to spin and hit the wall, damaging his front nose and forcing him to retire.
The incident left debris all over the track, and brought out the safety car which was taken through the pitlane to allow the marshals to clear up the wrecked cars in safety.
Hamilton was leading from Ricciardo as the safety car pulled in on the end of lap 4. Palmer, who was nursing a severely bruised ego having just been told he has been fired, pulled off a brilliant overtake on Valtteri Bottas.
The stewards announced that the incident between Vettel, Verstappen and Vandoorne would be investigated after the race. I think they either have changed the rule so Raikkonen has diplomatic immunity and Vandoorne is going to be taking the blame for anything he does from now on, the stewards like alliteration or Raikkonen has changed his name!
Fernando Alonso was forced to retire as he had no power.
Lewis Hamilton was comfortably pulling away at the front as the Mercedes clearly is the best car in the wet, and when out in front does not get stuck in the turbulence of cars in front. This didn’t stop him from moaning that his tyres were going off. Mercedes know that usually means he is happy, as he seems to enjoy complaining.
Lap 11 and Danil Kvyat stuffed the car in the wall almost immediately after overtaking Magnussen, bringing out the safety car. Most of the drivers, who started the race on full wet tyres pitted for inters, and a few drivers including Ricciardo, pitted for fresh inters. Hamilton stayed.
Hamilton wanted to know why he didn’t pit, and believed that might have been a mistake as the race restarted, while still putting in fast lap times and pulling away from Ricciardo behind him. Like I have said on numerous occasions, only happy when he is complaining! He even stated “It is harder to drop him while he has fresh inters”, while pulling out a two second lead in one lap!
Felipe Massa was still out on full wets, even though there were murmurings on the pit wall that it was almost ready for slicks. Williams really should have pitted him under the safety car for intermediates, as he was getting swallowed by the pack. He was lucky Hamilton is now a vegan and has no interest in consuming his rivals.
Felipe Massa finally pitted for intermediates, leaving him at the back of the field only for the team to bring him back in a few laps later for slicks, as they want him to tell them when the track is perfect for slicks so Stroll can change tyres on the optimum lap. Massa duly obliges, telling the team that the track is ready for slicks.
Hamilton was the last driver to pit for slick tyres, comfortably keeping the lead.
Marcus Ericsson lost control of his car and hit the wall on the bridge, forcing the safety car to come out for third time. Hamilton immediately jumped on the team radio and demanded that the incident be covered under a virtual safety car. Yes Lewis, having a car stranded on a narrow section of the track that is blind on corner entry, a crane, and half a dozen marshals on the track, is a perfectly safe situation and can happily be handled while a car zooms past them at about 100 mph every 10 seconds. In fact, why don’t you get out of your car, off your high horse and help!
The safety car came back in with just 27 minutes left, as the race would hit the two-hour time limit rather than the 61 laps it was scheduled for.
Nothing interesting happened during the last 27 minutes, apart from Hamilton moaning about potential tactics from his team, and Nico Hulkenberg retiring.
Hamilton won from Ricciardo, Bottas, Sainz, Perez, Palmer, Vandoorne, Stroll, Grosjean and Ocon taking the final point.
This race result leaves Hamilton with a 28-point lead in the drivers’ championship.
Drive of the day: fan vote: Lewis Hamilton
Drive of the day Fionas Vote: The Safety Car. It did more laps than the Ferrari drivers combined, did not buckle under the pressure of Hamilton’s whinging that it was going too slowly, and in the third incident had no business being out on track at all. Good job Safety Car!
Conclusions from Singapore:
- That race may have just cost Sebastian Vettel the drivers’ championship.
- The track was a lot more interesting with the little chicane they got rid of a few years ago
- Rain does not make the Singapore GP any more interesting.
- 2008 was fixed, and should be removed from the championship standings.
- Jolyon Palmer actually had a really good race. Okay, so he would have still been beaten by Hulkenberg had he not been forced to retire, but it was still a good race for him.
- The Force Indias can go two full race distances without hitting each other!
Next up, Malaysia in 2 weeks’ time and we all remember what happened there last year. And yes I still want “OH NO NO” as a ring tone!
The stewards announce no further action on first lap crash.