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lunes, septiembre 23, 2013

F1 Singapore - Vettel wins’ at Marina Bay

F1 Singapore - Vettel ‘wins’ at Marina Bay

Untouchable Vettel makes it a Singapore hat-trick 

22 September, Singapore - The phenomenon called Vettel rolled through Singapore once more as Red Bull Renault’s star German driver claimed his third and most commanding victory at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Vettel, 26, won the 61-lap race by a margin of 32.627 seconds from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen a brilliant third after a weekend of physical pain from an old back injury. It was Alonso’s fifth Singapore podium but Raikkonen’s first.
Starting from pole position, Vettel almost lost out at the start to Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes but after edging alongside and past the Red Bull Rosberg could not coax his car through Turns 1 and 2 without yielding to Vettel once more.
A withering burst of pace in the early stages was the other key to Vettel’s seventh victory of 2013 and the 33rd of his Formula 1 career, putting him one ahead of Alonso and into fourth on the list of all-time Grand Prix winners.
”The car was incredible,” said Vettel after what looked like an easy win. “I said to the team, this doesn’t just happen like that, by accident or by luck, there’s hard work behind it and I appreciate it – it’s just a pleasure to drive it around this crazy track!”
Not even a Safety Car intervention just before half-distance could halt Vettel’s progress. It came when Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso hit the wall on the outside of Turn 18 and expired. When the Safety Car went in after the 30th lap. Vettel again streaked away to assume command of the race once more.
Alonso’s fifth Singapore podium was made possible by a blindingly fast start which catapulted the two-time Singapore winner from seventh to third by the end of the opening lap.
“It was a fantastic start,” Alonso agreed. “We didn’t have the pace so we knew we had to invent something! That was the first possibility; the other was a different strategy that paid off with a second place that tastes like a victory for us.” Despite that feeling, the result leaves Alonso 60 points adrift of Vettel with just six races remaining.
One of the real stars of the evening was Raikkonen. The 33-year-old Finn almost didn’t take to the track on Saturday because of pain from a back injury sustained 12 years ago in testing in France. But he came through from 13th on the grid to claim his first Singapore podium.
“I think I had pretty OK speed and could overtake a few people,” said the laconic Finn, One of those moves was a spectacular round-the-outside move at Turn 14 to deal with the McLaren Mercedes of Jenson Button. 
Maybe it looked more tricky than it was,” said Raikkonen. “Not an easy one, but we managed to get past…”
The evening was also a tale of teams and their two cars. Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean, third on the grid, had strong early pace but retired later in the pits with a loss of engine air pressure, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber was flying in the late stages with a podium in sight but succumbed to a gearbox problem that saw the car stop in flames two laps from the finish.
That left Mercedes duo Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in clear air to come home fourth and fifth ahead of the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa. McLaren’s Button and Sergio Perez were next with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Adrian Sutil taking the final two points-paying positions.
Adding another of the drivers’ favourite ‘trophies’ to his weekend, Vettel also set the race’s fastest lap of 1 minute 48.574 on lap 46, an average speed of 167.940 kilometres per hour.
Such was Sebastian Vettel’s dominance of Sunday’s 2013 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said finishing second tasted like victory. It was a ‘win’ that kept Alonso - who started the race seventh - in title contention. By his own admission, the Spaniard’s championship hopes now depend on Vettel hitting trouble in the remaining six rounds, but as Mark Webber’s last-lap retirement showed, even Red Bull are not invincible. We take a team-by-team look at the Singapore formbook…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P15, retired lap 61, engine
What can one say about Vettel’s drive? Perhaps for the first time this season he had to pull out all the stops in case of a safety-car intervention, and he simply dominated from the moment he grabbed the lead back from fast-starting Rosberg in the first corner. Thereafter he ruled with disdainful ease, so much so that brake vibrations late in the race caused him zero problems in practical terms. He won by 32.6s, and is now well on his way to a fourth consecutive title. Webber had to fight back from a less than great start but was charging after Alonso and Raikkonen on fresher rubber in the closing stages when he was instructed to start short-shifting because of an engine problem. He lost places as the Renault V8 lost power, and eventually retired on the final lap. He hitched a ride back with Alonso, but running across the track and flagging down the Ferrari earned him his third stewards’ reprimand of the season, which means a ten-place grid drop at the next round in Korea.

Fernando Alonso, P2
Felipe Massa, P6

Ferrari’s fortune lay in Alonso’s brilliant start which took him from seventh to third by the first corner, and by the strategic decision to pit him under the safety car. After that superb driving and careful tyre preservation, allied to Rosberg’s long second pit stop, moved him to second place. It tasted like a victory, he said. Massa made three stops, and was thus able to come bulling through behind the Mercedes to take sixth place by the finish.

Kimi Raikkonen, P3
Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 38, engine pneumatics

Grosjean made a poor start and was running sixth when his Renault engine’s pneumatics went awry and forced him to retire on the 38th lap. Lotus gave Raikkonen a great strategic leg-up with their pit stop under the safety car, and by diligent tyre management he was able to stay in play and to overcome Button for the final podium place. His run was all the more creditable because of the back problem that nearly made him drop out on Saturday. 

Nico Rosberg, P4
Lewis Hamilton, P5

Rosberg made a brilliant start to snatch the lead from Vettel, but only until Turn One where he ran wide and dropped to second. He was able to stay there until rubber debris clogged his front wing, and while that was cleared in his second stop he fell behind Alonso and Raikkonen. Hamilton admitted that when Webber dropped out he thought he and Rosberg were running third and second after fighting back on fresher rubber. But by gambling on pit stops under the safety car Alonso and Raikkonen had snuck ahead and stayed there after managing their tyres well. Fourth and fifth were thus a huge disappointment to Mercedes.

Jenson Button, P7
Sergio Perez, P8

Just for a moment it seemed that pitting under the safety car was about to bring McLaren their first podium of a tough season, but by the closing stages neither Button nor Perez had the tyres left to fight as those who had stopped later came on strong. Button said that seventh and eighth were probably the best they could have hoped for, regardless of what strategy was adopted.

Nico Hulkenberg, P9
Esteban Gutierrez, P12

Sauber looked good for a while after the pit-stop gamble under the safety car, but in the final stages Gutierrez had nothing left to fight with and fell from a points-scoring position to 12th. Hulkenberg also struggled, but managed to bring another two points home.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P10
Paul di Resta, Retired lap 55, crash

Sutil secured the final point for Force India after a typically gritty drive, but after fighting in the mix for ninth place in the closing stages after a long opening stint moved him well into the upper midfield runners, Di Resta crashed in Turn 7 on the 55th lap.

Pastor Maldonado, P11
Valtteri Bottas, P13

Maldonado pushed hard in the closing stages but couldn’t get close enough to Sutil to fight for the final point, while Bottas’s race was compromised when he couldn’t pass Van der Garde’s Caterham, and also by a problem with the clutch.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, P14
Daniel Ricciardo, Retired lap 24, crash

Toro Rosso had a tough day, with neither driver making good starts. Ricciardo triggered the safety car intervention on the 25th lap after crashing on the 24th. Vergne was in the fight for points at the end after switching from a two- to a three-stop strategy, until overheating and worn tyres dropped him back.

Giedo van der Garde, P16
Charles Pic, P19

Van der Garde was a star as he held off Bottas’s Williams for the first 17 laps, then later repassed it for six laps on the 33rd. He was always well ahead of team mate Pic except when the Frenchman delayed his final stop of three, after which the latter dropped back to 19th place behind the Marussias.

Max Chilton, P17
Jules Bianchi, P18

Chilton and Bianchi had a race-long fight, which went the way of the Briton by a hair over seven seconds. The Frenchman had some gearshift difficulties mid-race, which were cured by a change of steering wheel.

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