Vettel wins in Singapore as Hamilton drops out

2012 Singapore Grand Prix review

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Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix for a second year running after a gruelling race which ran to the two-hour time limit.

The race fell into Vettel’s hands after Lewis Hamilton retired from the lead before half-distance with a gearbox problem.

Jenson Button salvaged second place for McLaren while Fernando Alonso achieved his pre-race target of finishing on the podium to limit the damage done to his championship lead.

Maldonado loses ground at start

Hamilton held onto his lead at the start but Pastor Maldonado lost his grip on second place. He went slightly too deep at turn one and Vettel pounced, claiming the place from him. Button followed him past.

Pole-winner Hamilton led the field away
Alonso made an unusually poor getaway and was beaten off the line by Paul di Resta. But the Ferrari driver got back down the inside at turn five to take fifth place back.

Behind them several drivers went across the run-off at turn one, but the stewards decided all had returned to the track without gaining an unfair advantage.

The opening laps were a cagey affair, the front-runners not wanting to take too much life out of the super-soft tyres which they had already qualified on.

Webber was the first to pit on lap nine. The next time around Vettel lost half a second in the middle sector and he also dived into the pits.

Alonso came in next and two laps after that Hamilton pitted from the lead. He emerged ahead of Raikkonen, who was yet to stop, and who was easily passed by Vettel in the DRS zone.

Button eked his tyres out a little longer, pitting on lap 15, and returned to the track behind Vettel.

Some of the early stoppers found themselves having to pick their way past those who were yet to come in. Maldonado had a dramatic moment, catching a slide as he went past Hulkenberg with his DRS open. Alonso also took the Force India.

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Hamilton loses the race

Moments later Maldonado and Alonso gained another place without having to do any overtaking. Hamilton had been on the radio to complain about problems with the upshift on his McLaren and on lap 23 it stopped changing gears entirely.

He repeatedly pulled on his right-hand gear lever then thumped the steering wheel in frustration as he coasted to a stop in the turn five run-off. In five races he’s had two wins and three no-scores, the latter down to a puncture, a first-lap collision, and now a gearbox problem.

“He was looking after things and keeping it in control,” said a disappointed Martin Whitmarsh afterwards, who added that the problem had only become apparent during the race.

He discounted the possibility of the problem having been caused by Hamilton’s contact with the wall during qualifying: “Lewis brushed the wall but it was very light. So I don’t think it’s something that came from that.”

Alonso attacks Maldonado

Alonso worked his way up to third place
Vettel now took up the lead with Button close behind and Maldonado eyeing a shot at a podium finish. But the Williams driver had to withstand some serious pressure from Alonso.

They made their second pit stops together and returned to the track in the same order. Once more the pair found themselves in traffic, forming a queue headed by Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean.

As Maldonado explored the rear of Grosjean’s Lotus, Alonso resisted the temptation to unload his KERS in the DRS zone. He emptied it as they came out of turn 13 instead and got alongside the Williams on the outside of the following corner.

Maldonado defended his position firmly and Alonso, reluctant to risk too much with a championship at stake, wisely gave best to the Williams.

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Safety car changes the race

In a near-repeat of last year’s Grand Prix, a safety car intervention at around half-distance changed the complexion of the race. Narain Karthikeyan, struggling with his HRT’s brakes, hit the wall at turn 18.

Vettel and Button were into the pits immediately to make their second and final pit stops. A string of other cars took the opportunity to pit including Raikkonen, Di Resta, Rosberg, Grosjean and Maldonado.

The latter sacrificed his third place to switch to soft tyres to ensure he reached the end of the race without a further stop. But it all became academic moments later as the team told him his hydraulics had failed and he had to retire.

The first safety car period dragged on as three cars were sent around to unlap themselves. And the restart didn’t last very long – Michael Schumacher ploughed into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne at turn 14, putting both out.

Button had a near-miss at the end of the first safety car period as he nearly ran into the back of Vettel. He was quickly on the radio to complain about Vettel’s driving and the stewards will investigate the incident after the race.

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Midfield mayhem after restarts

The second restart went smoothly – Vettel pulled clear of Button and Alonso, the Ferrari driver now up to third. Di Resta appeared behind him in fourth and was briefly able to use DRS to attack the Ferrari, only to drop back.

Grosjean was running in sixth in front of Raikkonen, but was instructed by his team to let his team mate by and duly surrendered the position. Raikkonen was unable to do anything about Rosberg ahead and complained afterwards that the race had been “boring”, adding: “you cannot overtake”.

Hulkenberg had to pit with a puncture
Neither of those was true about the action behind him, as the drivers who had pitted under the safety car used their fresher tyres to attack.

Felipe Massa, who dropped back early on with a puncture, had a dramatic moment as he tried to squeeze past Bruno Senna on the approach to turn 13. The pair made contact and massa’s car briefly got away from him, but he gathered it up and made it into the corner, claiming the place.

Also in the wars was Nico Hulkenberg, who managed to make contact with both Sauber drivers, starting with Sergio Perez. Then, as Mark Webber passed Kamui Kobayashi, Hulkenberg clipped the other Sauber, breaking Kobayashi’s front wing and picking up a puncture himself.

Webber went on to pass Senna and spent the final laps trying to find a way past fellow Australia and Red Bull employee Daniel Ricciardo – the Toro Rosso driver holding him off until the flag.

The spate of midfield collisions played into the hands of Marussia’s Timo Glock, elevating him to 13th place. That became 12th when Senna retired in the dying moments of the race, and the crucial extra position moves Marussia back into tenth in the constructors’ championship, ahead of Caterham.

Senna’s engineer was quick to warn him of the potential danger from his car: “Jump out of the car,” he said. “It could be a KERS problem. Do not touch the ground at the same time. The car is unsafe.”

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Vettel dedicates win to Watkins

The lengthy safety car interruptions meant there was only time for 59 of the scheduled 61 laps before the two-hour time limit expired. Vettel was never seriously threatened by Button in the closing stages and his car didn’t let him down as he finally clinched his second win of the year.

On his slowing-down lap he dedicated the win to Professor Sid Watkins, who died last week and in whose honour a minute of silence was observed before the race started.

Button claimed second ahead of Alonso, who made good on his pre-race aims of finishing on the podium and taking points off the driver who had been closest to him in the championship: Hamilton. But Vettel has cut his points lead to 29 points with six races remaining.

2012 Singapore Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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100 comments on “Vettel wins in Singapore as Hamilton drops out”

  1. I still can’t get out of my head Massa’s overtake on Senna…
    Also, does anybody know how much time Massa lost to
    Hamilton after the puncture and his first pit stop?

    1. 78 Seconds or so.. and at some point of time, 88.5 seconds behind .. As I can remember.. He managed 25 laps on super soft at the end !!

    2. Massa’s move was barely legal, but Senna’s defense was way too agressive. Could’ve been much worse for both.

      1. Barely legal? Please explain.

        1. Almost all of his car was outside the track lines. Both onboard and aerial shots show so.

      2. Senna was using normal racing line read here

        1. Interesting thing that Massa is still unhappy about the move. He recovered from a difficult position and should be commended for the good driving, from there he should’ve just shut up and enjoy the accolades for once. Senna took the proper racing line and wasn’t expecting Massa to get such a good run on him. I would also suspect Senna was concentrating on the approach for the next corner and didn’t see Massa.

    3. I didn’t think Senna did anything wrong when I watched it.
      My only concern was did Massa go off the track at the chicane. I had to watch it back a few times to spot that Massa was inside the track. Massa sure does run that corner close with his track side wheels just on the track. In the end it was great driving by Massa to make the pass available and hold onto the car afterwards.
      I was wondering if that’s what Williams were concerned about on the move. Did Massa cut the chicane? I guess the stewards only needed to check a couple of camera angles that we are not privileged to see to work that out.
      Also, that was probably the first attempted pass across that bridge too. The giant turtle humps at turn 10 were supposed to prevent side by side action across that bridge to protect it.

  2. First time in his career he’s actually benefited of a retirement from a car in front of him to win rather than being the victim as he’s been countless times.

    1. Poor him, always the victim.

    2. That’s not true at all. In fact, it’s not even the first night race where he has inherited a victory from LH. In 2009, Lewis Hamilton retired from a commanding lead in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix leaving Sebastien Vettel to win. However, Sebastien returned the favour (not the best phrase) in 2011, by having a car failure after turn 1 of Abu Dhabi where Lewis went on to win.

        1. Just want to be part of this conversation. Hamilton didn’t pull away as many expected, given the MP4-24’s combination of great straight-line speed with it’s KERS package & relatively great amount of downforce & a brake problem made matters even worst, which ultimately lead to his retirement obviously & Vettel was able to jump Hamilton at the end of the first stint when Hamilton ran wide on his out-lap I believe.

      1. @kodongo as @david-a said, Hamilton retired from P2.

        1. @raymondu999, yes but that was because he was losing time with the brake problems that forced him to retire. Before that, he looked very strong, qualifying a lot quicker with in a car with more fuel onboard (if you remember those days), a significant strategic advantage.

          1. @Adrianmorse Less fuel than Vettel, but his pole advantage was indeed more than his 2 laps worth of less fuel should have been. (i remember doing some number crunching on my own model) and fuel corrected he was 4 tenths quicker than Vettel.

            But he had no race pace. The brakes turned out fine, but McLaren did not feel that having Hamilton turn up into 320kph braking zones with potentially dodgy brakes was a responsible risk.

          2. Retiring from P1 and retiring from P2 are still different

    3. First time in his career he’s actually benefited of a retirement from a car in front of him to win

      it’s just because he was the first time ready to capitalize, if he didn’t passed Pastor in the first corner who knows …….

      being the victim as he’s been countless times

      that’s was the result of his team taking too much risks in designing his car

      1. that’s was the result of his team taking too much risks in designing his car

        Load of horse manure – does it mean the RedBull in this race didn’t have any design related risks. All designers take a certain degree of risk in designing a car. Even a barbie doll design will involve some risk

    4. @kingshark

      haha..I sense a tone of sarcasm. But anyways, for argument’s sake, if Lewis had continued, do you reckon he would have won the race? Based on the pace Vettel had at the end of the race, he seemed to have taken care of his softs extremely well, and was pulling away from Button significantly. I think it would have been a classic duel at the end, if Lewis continued…and it wouldnt have surprised me if Seb had won passing Lewis..

      1. @Jay Menon
        I reckon Lewis would’ve won, barely though keeping Seb behind, kind of like Alonso 2 years ago.

  3. Terrible mis-judgement by Schumacher. He can bleat all he likes about the drivers ahead breaking earlier than usual, but it looked awfully like he was going to go past the corner anyway….

    1. @james_mc And he’s been given a ten-place penalty:

      Ten-place grid penalty for Schumacher at Suzuka

      1. He’ll probably get pole now.

        1. :D!

    2. In his defense he wasn’t putting the blame on the guys in front of him. in the interview he says that HE was breaking a little bit earlier than usual, but the car didn’t slow down as he expected so he slammed on the breaks even harder locking up. We can argue about whether there was a car problem or not, but Schumacher was certainly not putting the blame on Vergne. The stewards have access to GPS and would be able to know if he did in fact brake earlier than usual. Judging by the fact that he got a penalty i doubt it though. Personlay i thgink that he didnt do a good enough job of keeping the heat in his brakes and tyres during the safety car period, and was surprised by the lack of declaration when he pushed the break pedal. having said that, please dont put words in his mouth about blaming the cars ahead.

  4. Vettel and Button is under investigation by the stewards:

    1. No further action in 3, 2, 1.. :D

    2. 40.5
      No car may be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed
      potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person at any time whilst the safety car is
      deployed. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the
      pit lane.
      2012 F1 Sporting Regulations 29 of 43 7 December 2011
      © 2011 Fédération Internationale de l?Auto

      Ruyle developed in December this year precisely because of a previous incident with Seb….

      1. No further action

      2. Ruyle developed in December this year precisely because of a previous incident with Seb….

        Care to cite this previous incident you are quoting?

    3. @dantheman @valentino @juij
      Whiting has told the press there will be no action taken.

      1. The stewards decided “An examination of the telemetry overlay for throttle, steering and brake traces of both cars did not indicate any erratic driving”.


        1. Hmmm….Isn’t it erratic? so Why did Button suddenly get close(Hem!) to Vettel and tried to avoid collision? I don’t know. I can’t erase the idea that no action is because Seb is title contender in my head. even if I didn’t expect summon and penalty from this but that’s the case when they had not been summoned.

          1. Hold a banner saying “I’m an Alonso fan and I want a penalty for Vettel because he is a championship contender”. That will be more than reason to penalize Vettel than providing a reason to support stewards ruling

          2. I think that Jenson thought that Vettel was going to start from there and he tried to stay as close as possible.
            I was quite surprised about the investigation, because it was only a little misunderstanding between Vettel and Button, clearly no one to blame.

        2. The stewards also spoke to the drivers. I wonder what the Mclaren position was because although they might have fought for the race win, on balance they may benefit more by keeping Alonso down in third and not taking as many points from Hamilton. I also can’t see Button trying to talk up the issue just to gain a race win, I think that he’d rather have won it on the track than go to the effort to gain victory with a post race intervention.

          1. Yes, the investigation was because Buttom complained.

    4. Just seen it now, and if anything, Button was going too fast.

  5. The race went for 2 hours, so you’d expect there to be a few lulls, but nope! The write-up reflects just how much actually happened. My poor fingernails…

  6. I actually feel a little sad for Maldonado.

    Over the past 2 races he’s actually been doing quite well, keeping himself out of trouble and putting in good enough pace. I felt he should have deserved some points for his performance this weekend, but alas.

    1. @pjtierney

      Agreed. I thought Pastor was going really well yesterday. His duel with Alonso was a classic, tough but very fair. I mean, this guys has all the qualities to become a top driver, but the problem being, he only manages to pull it all together once every few races.

      He seems to have improved lately, hopefully he keeps it up…I’ve always had a soft spot for Williams and I would love for them to win another race this year.

  7. Now, I think that only Vettel and Alonso have a realistic shot at the ttle, and I personally think Vettel will win it; he only needs to outscore Fernando by about 5 points per weekend, which is doable

    1. You should wait a couple of race before saying so. Mclaren’s pace would go nowhere and there’s no guarantee Vettel would always finish ahead of Alonso. Yes, Alonso has inferior machine but you know, he has had all over the season and still leading the championship. It seems not easy for Hamilton to win the title but he still can win against others in some races with that car which is able to ruin Vettel’s campaign.

      1. But JB needs to make up 3 races, and judging Ferraris reliablility throughut the season, Fernando is unlikely to retire in the next few races, and Hamilton needs to make up 50 points or so, which isn’t realistic.
        Kimi has got to make up about 45 points (ish) and that’s not really that realistic.
        Vettel learly has the best chance to overhaul Alonso, particurlarly in Japan; Vettel loves Suzuka

        1. @xjr15jaaag and he lost to Button and Alonso there last year when he had the fastest car for such circuit. I know Vettel loves Suzuka but that’s it. If RB8 is not the clear best there, I won’t assume he would win easily.

          1. @eggry Except that he didn’t have the fastest car. The McLaren was so much better. Button only lost pole by 9 thousandths of a second and we all know that the RB7 forte was qualifying. Plus he was more worried about finishing and sealing the title than fighting Alonso.

            Anyway, I believe Alonso doesn’t have the car to beat Vettel next race, but I can see it being a McLaren walk in the park.

    2. he only needs to outscore Fernando by about 5 points per weekend, which is doable

      it’s too early to say that it will be a fight between Alonso & Vettel because they simply don’t have the fastest car,hamilton still have a chance to win the WDC who knows in F1 anything can happen & it usually does

      the only way to outscore Fernando (considering his consistency & his car’s reliability) by at least 5 pts is to score wins i can’t see Fernando finishing outside of the top 5 in the remaining races (of course in normal conditions)

      so Vettel has to beat Hamilton,Button,& Alonso in the remaining 6 races with the 2nd or 3rd fastest car (depending on the circuit) without ignoring reliability i think that’s a quite a difficult job

      1. But it is at least fairly realistic though

        1. You are right @xjr15jaaag, It is more than fairly realistic. MClaren form flunctuates but RBR’s is getting stronger which leaves Ferraris behind and that’s how is going to end.
          Vettel 1st, Alonso/Hamilton 2nd, Button third. Well, the usual suspects…

    3. @xjr15jaaag Hamilton is still in with a chance The MP4-27 is still I believe the form car on the grid.

  8. “Vettel and Button were into the pits immediately to make their third and final pit stops” – They only made 2 stops during the race (as did most others)

    1. Corrected.

  9. Martin Whitmarsh does not seem very definitive/certain:
    “He discounted the possibility of the problem having been caused by Hamilton’s contact with the wall during qualifying: “Lewis brushed the wall but it was very light. So I don’t think it’s something that came from that.”
    He doesn’t say that they know definitely that the brush with the wall was not the initiator of the problem. It will be interesting to see what they find to be the cause.

    1. Remember when Vettel did the same thing while qualifying in 2010 and nothing happened.

      1. William Brierty
        23rd September 2012, 21:07

        I’ll tell you want didn’t happen when Vettel brushed the wall, he didn’t win the race.

      2. as far as I concern, Vettel touched wall with front wheel not rear.

  10. In five races he’s had two wins and three no-scores, the latter down to a puncture, a first-lap collision, and now a gearbox problem.

    Cruel luck for Hamilton not just for losing a potential win but also for having all this bad luck in a season where his car finally has the speed again to challenge for the title.

    The safety car spoiled the race at the front for me. Would Alonso have gone for three stops, would Button have been able to make any use of his 6-lap tyre advantage over Vettel (probably not, given their final stints, but still)? I’m glad Ricciardo was able to score some points again today, especially after his appalling luck in Monza.

    As for the other Aussie, Webber hasn’t had a good qualifying (Spa was Ok) or race since Silverstone. The 2012 season looks to be something of a reversal from the 2011 for Webber: he’s had a good start to the season this time around, but the second half is very disappointing so far.

  11. William Brierty
    23rd September 2012, 18:30

    Well done, Fernando, you are the 2012 champion. The only man that had the pace and the car ended his challenge today, OK, the points gap between 1st and 2nd is less, but a) Vettel doesn’t have the car and b) Vettel vs Alonso is a fall-gone conclusion, Hamilton vs Alonso isn’t. Before today the 2012 world championship was an excellent and probably close one-on-one duel between Hamilton and Alonso, but now the championship is Alonso’s. And I know you’re thinking I am underestimating Vettel and Red Bull, but that wasn’t pace for Red Bull at Singapore, it was the effects of the McLaren, which prefers f