Sebastian Vettel stormed ever closer to his fourth consecutive F1 driver’s world championship with a commanding lights to flag victory at the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix night race last weekend.
The Red Bull driver put his car on pole by a tenth of a second from Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg. Vettel was briefly passed by his fellow German, but the Mercedes man overcooked hi entry to the first corner.
Vettel played a canny game seeing how the situation was to unfold and cut back underneath the silver car to regain the lead – which is where he stayed for the rest of the race, crushing his opponents by setting the fastest lap, too.
It was a race for second for the rest of the field. Fernando Alonso – Vettel’s closest title rival – got off to a storming start, overtaking five cars to exit turn one in third, righting a disappointing qualifying. Rosberg slipped back into the clutches of Alonso and was eventually overhauled.
It was a race of mixed fortunes for the Lotus team, with Romain Grosjean qualifying on the front of the second row only two tenths back of Vettel. However, Raikkonen finished the Saturday session in a disappointing 13th place.
Come the race, Grosjean went backwards, eventually retiring due to high air consumption on his car’s Renault engine.
Current Formula 1 cars use compressed air to open and close the valves in the engine, which is why the 2.4-litre V8s can rev to an astonishing 18,000rpm. Without enough air pressure, the engine can’t operate properly, which for forced the Frenchman to exit the race.
Raikkonen, however, drove a superb race. An early stop to change tyres dropped him to the back of the field, but his Lotus team played the strategy perfectly, with the Finn conserving his car’s rubber well and coming home for a solid third place finish and another podium for the black and gold team.
Brit Lewis Hamilton and Brazilian Felipe Massa both finished where they started, in fifth and sixth place respectively.
It was a good weekend for our local team McLaren, too – after a less than auspicious qualifying sessions, with Sergio Perez starting down in 14th and former F1 world champion Jenson Button sitting on the eighth grid slot, the two cars battled hard to record some much need points, finishing in seventh and eighth respectively.
Up until six laps from the end, Button was on for third but was passed round the outside by Raikkonen in a brilliant move worthy of podium – the British driver then slipped back due to lack of grip from his aging tyres.
His luck was better than Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, however. The Aussie was catching Raikkonen for third until his engine lost power due to a water leak. With no coolant flowing around the motor, it got so hot the engine caught fire, putting him out of the race almost within sight of the finish line.
It was not a good result for Force India’s Paul di Resta either, who nosed into the barriers at turn seven. Another disappointing weekend for the Scot – will he still be in F1 next year?
There were some amazing driving performances throughout the field in Singapore, but Vettel reigned supreme once again. He now stands a massive 60 points clear of Alonso – who said Ferrari will have to be very lucky to catch Red Bull now – and 96 ahead of third place driver in the championship standings Lewis Hamilton. Raikkonen is just two behind Lewis.