Gascoyne to stay at Lotus til 2015

Mike Gascoyne has agreed to stay at the fledgling Lotus team til 2015, it emerged today.

The chief technical officer of the Anglo-Malaysian squad will continue to build on the promising start that the team have made to their F1 career.

“Mike’s five-year deal is a major announcement for the whole Lotus Racing team,” said team boss Tony Fernandes.

“It shows just how serious we are, not only about how far ahead we are setting our aspirations, but also as a reward to Mike for the incredibly hard work he and the team have already put in to get us from literally four people back in September ’09 to our current position as a serious F1 player with a very bright future ahead of us.

“On a personal level, I’ve really enjoyed the last year that we’ve been working together, and I’m very excited about working with Mike for many years to come.”

Gascoyne affirmed his commitment to the team in his statement.

“Having started the team from scratch with Tony it was always my intention to finish my career here, so it’s great to have formally agreed a five year deal. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Tony, Din, Nasa, Riad and the whole team, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved in Lotus Racing for having the confidence to take this into a long-term contract.

“We’ve had a great start to our partnership together, and I’m looking forward to continuing that for the next five years, and even beyond that.”

Brawn: tyres and car to blame for Schumacher malaise

Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn says that tyres and the recalcitrant car are to blame for Michael Schumacher’s poor performances this year.

By his own high standards Schumacher has not impressed this season, often even failing to have the measure of team-mate Nico Rosberg.

But Brawn suggested today that the maestro had lost none of his old skill.

“If you take the telemetry data in fast corners or his reaction time when the car breaks away, I don’t see any difference [to before his retirement]. There he’s still the old Michael,” Brawn told the official Formula 1 website.

“But in the slow corners he cannot make full use of the tyres as Nico can. Nico has put the bar very high in this respect. But I guess that’s okay for Michael as he clearly sees where he has to improve. I predict that in 2011 we will again see the true Michael – when we’ve delivered him a better car.”

Brawn went on to say that it was these particular Bridgestones that Schumacher was uncomfortable with.

“Michael’s driving style depends on a strong front tyre that can withstand his hard braking and the steering manoeuvres that he prefers,” Brawn explained. “Nico has simply understood better how to handle these front tyres.

“I have to say that this year’s front tyre is very uncommon. That stems from the fact that the FIA wanted to promote KERS and had asked Bridgestone to develop tyres that would fit a certain weight distribution and thus create a specific tyre characteristic.”

Ferrari at ‘crucial moment’ of season: Domenicali

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has said that his team are at a ‘crucial moment’ in their title challenge in the 2010 season.

Fernando Alonso took a strong victory in yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix but Domenicali believes more hard work lies ahead for him and the team.

“This is the crucial moment of the season,” said Domenicali. “We need to stay very cool and look forward to arriving in Japan with the perfect package in terms of car, in terms of preparation of the drivers, and also for the team because if you make a mistake you pay a lot.”

“The car seems to be better in terms of general performance, also on this kind of track.

“We will have some little updates, nothing major, but I think now a lot will be in the head of the drivers, in the head of the people who have to work, and in the reliability other than an incredible performance.

“We know that all the teams now are in a period where they have to switch to put all their resources in the new car otherwise they will be very late at the end, so I think it will be an interesting end to the season.”

“I’m never down when things are bad, or I never declare it fantastic when things are going well,” he continued. “What I know is that we need to be cool, feet on the ground and to work hard.

“We know when we’ve made some mistakes, when some others have been better than us, but that’s part of the game, part of life.

“The most important thing is to have a clear focus in front of you, to try to never give up, and that’s what we are doing.”

Proton threaten legal battle over ‘Team Lotus’ name

Proton, the car company which owns Group Lotus, has said that it considers the use of the name ‘Team Lotus’ a breach of its rights.

Last week Lotus Racing’s Tony Fernandes suggested that the historic name would re-enter the sport on his cars in 2011, as he had bought it from James Hunt’s brother David, who owns a separate company by the name of Team Lotus Ventures Ltd.

But Proton insisted today that they alone own the rights to the name and hinted they could take legal action if it were used.

The Proton statement said: “Last year, Tony Fernandes and 1 Malaysia Racing Team recognised this by taking a licence from Group Lotus to use the “Lotus” brand for the “Lotus Racing” team in the current Formula 1 season.

“With Proton’s agreement, Group Lotus has now terminated its licence to 1 Malaysia Racing Team to use the “Lotus Racing” brand in the 2011 and future Formula 1 seasons as a result of the flagrant and persistent breaches of the licence by 1 Malaysia Racing Team, which were damaging to the “Lotus” brand.

“Following that termination, neither 1 Malaysia Racing Team, nor any other company associated with Mr. Fernandes such as Tune Group Sdn Bhd or Team Lotus Ventures Limited, has the authority of Group Lotus to use any “Lotus” brand in the 2011 Formula 1 season. This includes the use of the brand “Team Lotus”.

“Group Lotus understands that Mr. Fernandes intends to rebrand the current “Lotus Racing” Formula 1 team to “Team Lotus” for the 2011 Formula 1 season. Mr. Fernandes indicates that Tune Group has acquired the rights to the name “Team Lotus” from a business formerly owned by David Hunt called Team Lotus Ventures Limited.

“Group Lotus believes these rights to have no proper legal foundation, a fact of which Mr. Fernandes was well aware when his company purchased them.

“PROTON will support Group Lotus in taking all necessary steps to protect its rights in the “Lotus” name, including resisting any attempts by Mr. Fernandes or his companies, or any other unauthorised person, to use the “Lotus” name in the 2011 Formula 1 season.”

2010 Singapore Grand Prix: Post-Race Press Releases

Reaction from all the teams following the completion of the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix.

McLaren

Car #1: Jenson Button Finished 4th: “At the start, I thought I’d take it easy on the rear tyres, because we saw earlier in the weekend how quickly they were going away, and I think doing that helped me towards the end of my first stint when I was pulling in Lewis.

“On the Prime tyre, I had a similar issue with rear-end stability, so not being able to challenge a Red Bull car that had 30 extra laps on its tyres showed us that they were very quick around here today. But it’s a circuit where we knew they’d be competitive, and probably one that was going to be difficult for us, so I go to Japan pretty happy.

“We’ve got a good upgrade for Suzuka: we’ll have something that we tried to put on the car this weekend but couldn’t – for reliability reasons. Coupled with our planned-for-Suzuka upgrade, it should hopefully be a bit of a double-whammy.

“My championship hopes were dented a little bit by Mark [Webber] finishing ahead of me, but the points gap to the front is just a race victory away. It shows there’s still everything to play for one bad race can cost you a lot of points.”

Car #2: Lewis Hamilton – DNF: “I’m still not exactly sure what happened with Mark and me. But, telling it from my point of view, I saw that he’d made a mistake, and had got caught up with the backmarkers, so I was in position to slipstream him. I was on the outside going into Turn Seven, and he was in my blind-spot, just behind me.

“I thought I’d got sufficiently past him, though. I braked, turned in, and tried to leave enough room for him on the inside and the next thing I knew I’d got clipped, my tyre was blown, and that was it. But, as the saying goes, I guess that’s motor racing.

“So, there are still four races to go. I’m 20 points behind Mark, and that’s a reasonable gap, but it’s not an insurmountable one. I guess I’ll just have to keep my head down and hope for the best. I’m not going to think specifically about the world championship right now, I’m just going to try to enjoy the rest of the season and whatever happens happens. But I’ll keep fighting to the end, because it’s the only way I know.”

Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Jenson drove an impressively solid race to bag 12 valuable world championship points, and was unlucky to miss out on a podium finish so narrowly.

“Lewis, too, drove a great race. We reckon he has good reason to consider himself rather unlucky, since he appeared to have pulled off a sound overtaking manoeuvre only to be bumped out of the race by the car he’d passed. But I guess that’s motor racing.

“He’s disappointed we’re all disappointed but we’ll regroup and continue to fight for both the drivers’ world championship and the constructors’ world championship.

“There are four grands prix left to run four grands prix left to win in fact and both our drivers are within a win of the drivers’ world championship lead. So, yes, we’re still within striking distance of taking both the drivers’ world championship and the constructors’ world championship, and that’s what we’re still intending to do our utmost to achieve.

“That’s what Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is all about, in fact.”

Mercedes GP

Car #3: Michael Schumacher Finished 13th: “I am not particularly happy about my first experience of racing in Singapore this evening. I had two encounters with other cars which were racing incidents and meant that I had to make my stops at times which were not ideal and consequently my race was heavily compromised. I suffered with the rear tyres on my first set of options which made me slide rather than drive through corners which was tough, so I would probably say that I only enjoyed the second part of the race.”

Car #4: Nico Rosberg Finished 5th: “It was extremely tough out there but we achieved the best possible result for us today. Our aim for the last few races is to finish as the best behind the top three teams and today we were able to profit as two of them had issues with Felipe in qualifying yesterday and Lewis in the race today. So fifth place is good for us and it’s very satisfying for the team. I could push Jenson a little at some points which was good to see. We will be aiming to finish the rest of the season as strongly.”

Ross Brawn: “We had a small grid advantage starting from the clean side and Nico was able to make up a place which was good. We then stayed out under the first safety car when almost every car behind us came in which made us a little vulnerable but I was very pleased with our pace which enabled us to control the situation. Nico drove an excellent race today with a competitive performance that saw him pushing the McLaren-Mercedes at various stages. Michael had a more eventful race and whilst it didn’t quite go his way today, he persevered to the end of the race. It was a very good team effort to improve the car over the course of the weekend and another well-deserved points finish.”

Norbert Haug: “Nico drove a very clever race and brought home the best result we could have achieved under our existing circumstances. Michael had an action-packed first night race in Singapore but he kept going which speaks for him and his car, posting some competitive lap times after his second stop for a new nose. Thank you to everybody in the team for the hard work that was done here in difficult conditions when working in the garage was like being in a sauna at times. Singapore is one of the very best places to stage a race and on behalf of Mercedes-Benz, I would like to give our compliments to the organisers who have built up a benchmark race in a very short period of time. Our learning process is taking our team in the right direction and I am sure that we will have a better car and results next season. We are looking forward to the last four races and everyone will work very hard so that our team and drivers can compete with the leaders in the seasons to come.”

Red Bull

Car #5: Sebastian Vettel Finished 2nd: “Towards the end of the first stint my soft tyres were pretty much finished, so the car was sliding a lot. We came in on the same lap as Ferrari and unfortunately I made a little mistake at the pit stop; otherwise I think it would have been very close. That’s the story of the whole race. I tried to push Fernando as hard as I could into a mistake, but he didn’t make a major one and it’s hard to overtake here – it would have been too risky. In the end we got second and some good points. The most important thing is that the car was quick and competitive all weekend. There was something missing yesterday in qualifying, which is the only thing that affected us today. Some people had been commenting on our starts, but I had a very good start, so we made excellent progress with that. It’s good to get points for the team, it helps us a lot in the Constructors’ Championship and the Drivers’ Championship is still open.”

Car #6: Mark Webber – Finished 3rd: “Our start was very good, so well done to the team for that. It was good for us to get away well, as it sets you up well for the race. I settled into the first stint and we had an early safety car. The team told me to pit, which I questioned, but they assured me it was the right thing. I wasn’t sure and knew it was going to be a long stint on the primes, but when we came out and re-queued behind the safety car I realised I was in a reasonable position. I passed a few guys, then got to Rubens (Barrichello) who was driving very well and I couldn’t clear him. We then had another restart and it can be difficult to get away cleanly when you have back-markers involved. I got caught up behind one the Virgin cars, he was doing his best, but Lewis (Hamilton) got a good run on me and unfortunately we made contact. It’s obviously not desirable, as it was a key part of the race for me to maintain my position. Fernando (Alonso) and Sebastian (Vettel) drove fantastic races today. They drove well all weekend and it was a good race for everyone to see, I’m very happy with third.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal: “First of all a fantastic team performance to get a double podium with second and third. Both drivers drove excellent races today. We took a bold decision with Mark early on to stop him behind the pace car, which meant going a long way on the prime tyre. He managed to make it work by making some great passing moves and he had great pace. The incident with Lewis Hamilton was a racing incident. It seemed to be caused by a back-marker who cost Mark a lot of time and enabled Lewis to get a run. He squeezed Mark too much, so Mark didn’t have anywhere to go through the corner and there was contact. Sebastian made a good start and harried Fernando for pretty much two hours. It’s very, very hard to overtake here in Singapore and he gave it his absolute best. We were going for the undercut, but unfortunately Ferrari covered us, which meant we had to overtake on-track. Sebastian continued to push Fernando all the way to the chequered flag. It’s a great team result on one of the hardest circuits on the calendar and we’ve extended our lead in the Constructors’ Championship and Mark has extended his lead in the Drivers’, with Sebastian closing in also. It’s a positive weekend and congratulations to the team who have put in endless hours at the circuit and a lot of hard work at the factory.”

Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer Track Support: “An excellent result and a very good recovery from yesterday. Our strategists again did a very good job by choosing to stop Mark during the first safety car. It was a big risk, but was rewarded. Due to that and the big performance from Sebastian we got a second and third, which is very good for both Championships. Congratulations to the whole team, we are in very good shape for the last four races of the season.”

Ferrari

Felipe Massa – 10th: “It was a very difficult race for me after everything that happened in qualifying yesterday. We chose a strategy similar to the one used for Fernando in Monaco, hoping for some help from a Safety Car which unfortunately, came out on track too early. So I was not able to overtake that many cars and then I found myself in a train behind Sutil and Hulkenberg: one or two laps later and I could have made up two or three places and had a different sort of race. The car was not too bad, given that I was always on the same set of hard tyres: only towards the end did the situation get worse and I could feel the tyre degradation which is why Kubica managed to get past me so easily. I can’t say I had much fun driving, given that I was always stuck behind another car. I had a new engine and now I only have three left which have each done one race, to rotate over the last four races of the season. I hope I will have more luck in those races than I have had this weekend!”

Fernando Alonso – 1st: “This win is very significant. We wanted to confirm our success in Monza at a completely different type of track and we succeeded at the end of a very hard and extremely stressful race, both for me and for the car, on a track that I like a lot and which is well suited to my driving style. After the earlier gift – the Easter surprise, as I called it – of getting pole yesterday, today it was important first and foremost to make a good start: that is what happened, even if Vettel might have been slightly quicker away than me, but here the run to the first corner is not so long and so I was able to close the door and keep the lead. On the soft tyres, we were going very well, but on the hards, the Red Bull seemed to be quicker than us. The pit stop went off perfectly, both in terms of strategy and in the way it was done in pit lane. In the second part of the race, I tried to avoid taking any sort of risk, especially when getting past the backmarkers at the same time as the yellow flags were out. There are four races to go and the championship is very open. In Spa, Sebastian, Jenson and I came away empty handed, then in Monza it was Hamilton’s turn: the dance towards the title sees the contenders see-sawing up and down, although Mark is still holding on to a slight lead. We must stay calm and concentrate on our own job, without thinking about what the others are doing: what is certain is that we will leave nothing to chance, fighting right to the very end. The F10 has improved a lot thanks to the work of all our engineers in Maranello and here at the track, and I am happy for that because now we can be on the pace at every type of circuit. We are not considered favourites for the races that lie ahead of us, but none of them are anything to be frightened about.”

Stefano Domenicali: “This is an extraordinary result, which is down to an exceptional performance from Fernando, who once again proved what he is made of, in terms of driving ability and his mental attitude. The first and most important brick in this particular wall was put in place yesterday with pole position: if we had not started from the front, it would most likely have been impossible to overtake the Red Bull which proved to be so strong on track today, especially in the second half of the race. Qualifying was the key, this time in a negative way, to Felipe’s race also: ninth place is definitely not a result that matches his or the car’s potential, but starting last, it would have been hard to do better on a track where overtaking is very difficult. The team matched the performance of the driver, working perfectly in managing all the key moments and a major component of this victory is obviously down to everyone in Maranello, who gave their all to bring the F10 up to this level. As is traditional, I want to thank all our partners: the title sponsor Marlboro, Santander and the technical partners, first and foremost Shell, although I would actually like to name all of them. I am not the sort to feel defeated in difficult moments, but all the same I am delighted when we have happy ones like this. We have picked up two very nice wins in a row on tracks with completely different characteristics, but we are still behind in both championships: we must continue to work like this, if at all possible, multiplying our efforts to try and fight all the way to the finish. The maths will be done only at the end, on 14th November in Abu Dhabi.”

Chris Dyer: “A fantastic result thanks to an incredible performance from Fernando, first yesterday in qualifying and then today in the race. Honestly, I do not think we had an advantage in terms of performance over our rivals, but at least they did not seem to have enough of one to be able to overtake us comfortably. We had to get a clean start, doing quick laps when necessary, choosing the right moment for the pit stop and being ready to manage any eventual Safety Car periods: a lot of elements to put together to get the win and that’s how it turned out, with no mistakes made. All of this is also thanks to a team that worked very well, making the most of the potential of the car. As for Felipe, clearly he had to gamble on a Safety Car, given his grid position. Unfortunately, that did not work out well, because the race was neutralised too early: a few more laps and it would have been another story for him: all the same, a points finish is a good result, given the outlook at the start.”

Williams

Car #9: Rubens Barrichello Finished 6th: It was a good race and a good collection of points today. It was a pity to drop places off the line, but while my brakes were hot, the lap times were good and I was catching Kubica, but with the interruptions of the Safety Cars I kept losing brake performance, so it was difficult to make any more headway than we managed. In summary, though I think we can be pleased with our performance this weekend.

Car #10: Nico Hulkenberg Finished 9th: If someone had offered me eighth place and some points after how qualifying went yesterday, I would have grabbed it! It has been a hard day’s work out there, huge concentration needed for a long race with a car close in front and another close behind for pretty much the entire race distance. But I am pleased with fighting my way through from the back to eighth place and helping the team to move ahead in the championship.

Sam Michael, Technical Director: It was a good points score from both cars today. Rubens start was poor so he lost two positions immediately. Nico had a great start and first lap. Then on the first Safety Car we decided to split the cars on strategy and it worked out for both of them. Nico did well to score points from his grid position. FW32 has been progressively stronger, and we intend to continue the trend in Suzuka.

Renault

Car #11: Robert Kubica Finished 7th: The last few laps were definitely the most exciting part of the race. The engineers spotted a right-rear puncture on the data – it must have been some debris that cut the tyre, because I didn’t touch the wall and couldn’t feel anything in the cockpit. That stop dropped me from sixth to 13th position. I had much fresher tyres than the cars in front in those last laps, but it’s still not easy to pass in Singapore, so it was good fun picking them off one by one. In the end, I got back to seventh place, which meant we only lost one position compared to our maximum this afternoon. Ultimately, if somebody had said that I would finish seventh today, and make one more pit stop than the cars around me, then I’d definitely have taken it.

Car #12: Vitaly Petrov Finished 11th: I made a fantastic start and was running in 10th position early in the race. We stopped under the first Safety Car period and I was the first runner on prime tyres behind Webber, so things looked good. I need to look at the video to see what happened afterwards with Hülkenberg and why he pushed me out in turn seven, but his move cost me three positions. I was then stuck behind Massa, in the queue behind the Force India, and it just wasn’t possible to overtake because we had all changed tyres at the same time. It was a tough race, but my luck went away from me yesterday in qualifying. I hope things will come back in my direction starting in Suzuka, so that I can put together a consistent weekend in qualifying and the race.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: Overall, it’s a disappointing and frustrating result because we scored very few points, while our nearest rivals Mercedes did a better job than us and stretched their lead today. Robert’s puncture forced him to make an extra pit stop, and he drove superbly to fight back to seventh: it was the highlight of the race to see him make up six positions in nine laps. As for Vitaly, his race was compromised by a very ambitious manoeuvre from Hülkenberg, which cost him three places and some valuable points. We now must look forward to Suzuka and hope for a better level of performance across the weekend.

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: It was a pretty exciting afternoon – but we’d have preferred a more boring race and more points. Our car didn’t have the pace to stay with Rosberg today, and it was hard to do anything creative with the strategy when everybody was making just one stop. Robert was headed for a sixth- place finish before his puncture, and he then did an excellent job to climb back up the order. We stopped Vitaly under the first Safety Car on lap three, and he was in a very good position when he tangled with Hülkenberg. That cost him a guaranteed points finish.

Rémi Taffin, Head of Engine Operations: It was a tough race for both cars. Robert and Vitaly both made very competitive starts and were in good positions in the opening stages, but we ultimately lost ground to our main rival in the championship. For the engines, it was a very easy race: the temperatures were well under control, and we had no problems to push all the way through. It was the second race for both engines and, as per our plan, these units will not be raced again.

Force India

Car #14: Adrian Sutil Finished 8th:* It was a really hard race today, in the heat and the humidity and having to race the whole way – I always had a car following really closely behind! Starting from 15th on the grid, I think this was the maximum we could have done. It’s a fantastic result, particularly after the disappointment yesterday. I said before it is very important to score every single point we can so we can keep ahead of Williams in the Constructors’ Championship. That’s why I tried so hard to keep Hulkenberg behind – any points we get are very important. We now go onto Suzuka, one of my favourite tracks, where I’ll try my best to keep everything on track until the end of the season.

Car #15: Tonio Liuzzi – DNF: It was a difficult first lap. I had a good start and I was trying to overtake Heidfeld, who went straight on into turn seven side by side with Adrian. I was holding my line but after the corner they both came back on the line and I was squeezed into the wall. I had some contact with Heidfeld and damaged the front wing a little and then I must have cracked the rear suspension as well as the lap after it broke completely and I lost the rear end. It’s really disappointing as looking at how the race developed I think we could have picked up a good finish. Anyway, it will be onto Japan now where I hope we can have a much better race.

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: We knew Singapore wouldn’t suit us as much as other tracks but we got the best outcome we could today. We got back in the points again – every single one counts at this stage in the championship. Adrian drove a great race, keeping a whole stream of cars behind him on very used tyres, and deserved his eighth position. Unfortunately Tonio retired early on after a racing incident. Given how qualifying went yesterday, to get one points finish is satisfying and we can now move onto the circuits that should work more to our advantage.

Toro Rosso

Car #16: Sebastien Buemi Finished 14th: “It was a very tough race. I made a good start, but on the opening lap I had a contact with Kobayashi, which I think might have done some damage because from that point on I had a lot more understeer. So we decided to stop and change the front wing to be on the safe side and at the same time we also changed the tyres. I came out behind Petrov and spent most of the race behind him. Later on, I had to pit another time to pressurise the hydraulic system and we again changed tyres, which meant I was able to catch and pass Jaime and close on Petrov again. I tried to pass him, I didn’t manage it and I was caught by Kubica, who was on fresh tyres. Another pit stop was needed, where we fitted the soft tyres and after that I was able to do some good lap times. I am disappointed because I think that, without the difficulties I had, tenth place should have been within my grasp. However, generally the car has improved which is encouraging for the next race.”

Car #17: Jaime Alguersuari Finished 12th: “I am satisfied that I finished the race, but to be honest, it was possibly the most boring race of my career. I was stuck in a train of cars and there was virtually nothing I could do. It should have been a good opportunity for us to score points today, having qualified eleventh, but it went wrong before the start with a coolant leak on the car, which meant I started from pit lane after the others had gone by. At that point, my hopes of having a good day disappeared. At least I managed three overtaking moves. Looking on the positive side, I think our car has improved in terms of performance and it’s not so bad to start last and finish twelfth.”

Franz Tost: “Unfortunately, on his laps to the grid, we noticed there was a water leak on Jaime’s car and as we were unable to fix it before the pit lane closed, he had to start from the pits. This was a shame, as it meant he was unable to make the most of his best qualifying performance of the season, which had seen him secure eleventh place on the grid. After that, he drove a good race. As for Sebastien, on the opening lap, he told us he thought he might have a problem with the front wing, after making contact with another car. Therefore, we called him in during the first Safety Car period, changing his tyres and the nose section. Later on, he was unable to get past Petrov, so we decided to bring him in again for fresh tyres, after which he passed his team-mate. He was still unable to catch Petrov and when Kubica, on fresh tyres passed both our cars, we again brought Buemi in for new tyres, in the hope this would give him a performance advantage, but the strategy did not work. Overall, we should have got a better result, as the car had performed well throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, this evening a variety of circumstances kept us out of the points positions.”

Lotus

Car #18: Jarno Trulli – DNF: “I had a very good start and was running well with Heikki but then the problems started. I had a puncture just after the first safety car which brought me back in early, and then the hydraulic problems that have affected me quite a few times this season struck again. It’s been a difficult weekend to be honest, but now we go to Suzuka which is a track I really look forward to, so hopefully I’ll have some better luck there.”

Car #19: Heikki Kovalainen – DNF: “That was not quite how I thought my race would end! Until the fire, I was having a really strong run and the car had felt good throughout. We were looking good for 15th, but then I had a coming together with Buemi towards the end of the race. I spun the car to get back onto the track which I think cracked the fuel tank pressure release valve and it looks like that caused an airbox fire. I didn’t want to come into the pits as it definitely wasn’t safe enough to do so, and pulled over on the main straight. A couple of guys from Williams gave me an extinguisher, so I put the fire out on my own – I told Tony and Mike that they maybe need to pay me more as I’m now a fireman as well…”

Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “The race tonight marks a major step forward for us. On the pitwall we were talking about beating Michael and Buemi in a straight fight on track, and we told Heikki to take the fight to them – not to take the conservative approach. If we’d taken the safer option maybe Heikki wouldn’t have hit Buemi, but we’re here to race, and that’s what I mean about a big step forward. This is all part of our learning curve, but coming here and racing the Toro Rossos and Mercedes at the end of a pretty hardcore race is a sign of how far we’ve come. We’ll take all these lessons into next year, and it can only help us be an even more potent force in 2011.”

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “It was a very eventful race and a real shame at the end to see Heikki’s race brought to an end with the fire. Both cars made a great start and got themselves in front of the Virgins which is obviously what we wanted to do. We stopped them both during the first safety car lap, which seemed to be the right call, and the pitcrew did a great job to get them both turned around as quickly as they did. Unfortunately Jarno then picked up a puncture from some debris on track and then a hydraulics problem brought his race to an end. We tried to get him back out, but after having done so the problems started again straight away so he had to come back in.

“Heikki clearly had a pretty dramatic race. When the fire started he made the decision not to come into the pitlane for safety reasons, and did very well to put the fire out himself. Until that point he was having a fantastic race and we were looking forward to fighting with Michael and Buemi right to the end, but unfortunately the fire put paid to that. The main thing really is to say thanks to him for being brave enough to put it out, and be thankful that he’s fine after what was a pretty spectacular end to his race. After such a good race performance from him and the whole team, we will take some real positives from this weekend, and look forward to the last four races.”

Hispania

Car #20: Christian Klien – DNF: “I really enjoyed being back in Formula One again even though a comeback here in Singapore might be one of the most difficult. Due to the humidity and the challenging circuit, it has been a tough race today. At the beginning I got off to a good start, could win some positions and was 18th in the meantime. I want to thank the whole team for their great job and also for giving me the opportunity to race.”

Car #21: Bruno Senna – DNF: “As soon as I came out of the corner and into the braking area the flags came out, but it was too late and there was no way to avoid the accident. The marshals were just too late and I didn’t have any notice of what was going on. It’s just one of those days. But we have to keep on working hard for Japan.”

Dr. Colin Kolles, Team Principal: “It was an unlucky weekend because we did not finish the race. As we knew that a lot of things could have happened on this track, we were in a good position after deciding to have an early pit-stop during the first safety car period. One car crashed in an unfortunate situation, and the other one had a hydraulic failure on the same lap. Now we have to look forward and think of Japan, which I think is one of the best tracks.”

Sauber

Car #22: Kamui Kobayashi – DNF: “It was clearly my mistake. After I overtook Michael Schumacher I knew I had to push very, very hard to score a point, but meanwhile the tyres were completely gone. I misjudged this in that corner and crashed into the barrier. Then Bruno Senna crashed into my car as well. The overall damage is quite bad. At the start it was very close and I lost one place to Vitaly Petrov. Against Mark Webber I had no chance, and then I was tenth behind Michael. I could have gone faster but had no chance to overtake. When I saw an opportunity I attacked him and it worked. Then, as I said, I pushed like hell and ended up in the barrier.”

Car #23: Nick Heidfeld – DNF: “Of course I would have hoped for a better result and wanted to finish the race. But, in my view, Michael (Schumacher) was braking a bit too late and knocked me out of the race. My race was compromised soon after the start anyway. Vitantonio Liuzzi wanted to pass me from a long way off on the outside in corner four. Then I believe he braked early and unfortunately I crashed into him. The car wasn’t easy to drive with the missing rear wing endplate and, anyway, the set-up had not been ideal because you are not allowed to change anything after qualifying. However, having said that, the lap times were not too bad for a while in the race. I’m now looking forward to my favourite circuit, Suzuka.”

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: “Everything went against us today. We shall quickly leave that behind us and concentrate on Kamui’s home race in Suzuka, which is important for our team.”

James Key, Technical Director: “It’s ultimately a shame not to finish. Our drivers had a split strategy to make use of the relative positions they were in. So we started Nick on the prime tyres, and Kamui was on the option compound from qualifying. With the very early safety car period we had to decide whether to pit Kamui or leave him out, and, like the guys around us, we decided to leave him out. Kamui got stuck behind Michael Schumacher, who was really slow and that cost Kamui an awful lot of lap time. Once he got passed Michael, Kamui had to push to the limit to get a gap to the cars behind him and to make the strategy work. Unfortunately in pushing he had an off, and that was the end of his race. Nick had a problem with his front wing and a puncture after a first lap incident, so we had to bring him in and give him the option tyres to catch up on. He then came in again during the second safety car period, and we put him on prime tyres, which would have taken him to the end. But then there was a racing incident which unfortunately saw him pushed out when he was the car in front.”

Virgin

Car #24: Timo Glock – DNF: “I got a reasonably good start to the race but both Lotus cars were able to overtake me. I was then able to retake Trulli at turn 7 and it was quite good putting pressure on Kovalainen. At the first safety car we tried to stay out, which worked out okay and I was running as high as P10. I stayed in front of all the other guys for a few laps but when Sutil overtook me there was no chance to keep the others in the pack behind me. When he passed I couldn’t recover quick enough because the tyres were dirty as a result of having to go offline. We were just unlucky with the second safety car. I had to come in for tyres and we just ended up behind. Then a few laps from the end we had a problem with the hydraulics and our race was over. So now we look forward to the next one in Japan where we have more of our upgrade package and that should help us a lot.”

Car #25: Lucas di Grassi Finished 15th: “A very good result overall and I have achieved my target for Singapore. We opted to pit during the first safety car period but we were very unlucky with the second, which made us lose a lot of time in the race. After that I just focused on getting to the finish. The car was feeling better and better and I was improving my lap time, so overall I’m happy with my performance today.”

John Booth, Team Principal: “Well done to Lucas who had a solid run to the flag to be the leading finisher for the new teams. He also set the fastest lap of the new teams. We tried a different strategy with Timo, starting on the Prime tyre and staying out during the first safety car. He had a good battle with the midfield cars early on, but was unlucky with the timing of the second safety car. Unfortunately he suffered a hydraulic problem towards the end of the race. Overall though it has been a positive weekend and once again the teamwork has been great.”

Bridgestone

Hiroshi Yasukawa – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport: “Congratulations to Fernando Alonso and Ferrari for their second win in a row. Congratulations also to the organisers of the Singapore for putting for such a great spectacle. This race is very tough for teams and drivers but it gives us one of the most exciting events for fans and spectators set against the fabulous night time skyline of Singapore. I think that this will continue to be a strong event for Formula 1 with many new fans here. I believe that the Bridgestone brand has been promoted very well from here to the outside world.”

Hirohide Hamashima – Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development: “Today we saw another very exciting race. It was the first time this weekend that we had a completely dry track so there was a lot of track surface evolution. This made the strategies very interesting as we were all watching very closely to see how both compounds would perform. We could certainly see differences with tyre wear and degradation from different cars, car set-ups and driving styles. Both Fernando and Sebastian managed their tyres very well with very similar strategies meaning a very close battle between them for the entire race. Mark showed the durability of the medium compound by completing almost all of the race distance on the same set of tyres. Not only did Mark’s tyres continue to deliver strong performance, but they also withstood the contact with Lewis. In this contact the front right tyre sidewall was pushed out of alignment with the rim, yet it retained its inner pressure for the rest of the race. We can say that this tyre displayed true Japanese grit today.”

*Adrian Sutil demoted to tenth after having 20 seconds added to his time for gaining an advantage by going around the outside of Turn 7 on the opening lap of the race.

Force India has confirmed that it is intent on appealing the decision and has lodged a protest against Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg claiming he that gained an advantage from cutting a corner.

2010 Singapore Grand Prix: Post-Race Press Conference

Fernando Alonso is joined by Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber following a tense race around the Marina Bay Circuit.

1. Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), 1h57m53.579s
2. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1h57m53.872s
3. Mark WEBBER (Red Bull), 1h58m22.720s


TV UNILATERALS

Q: Fernando, another pole to flag victory but you had to work extremely hard for this one in every sense. Just 0.2 seconds the winning margin.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, very good stuff. The race was long and with the safety car problems and also the people we were lapping especially at the end we found a group of five cars. They lost one lap and it was difficult to lap them. There was a yellow flag on the straight because of the Lotus problem, the car on fire, so we could not overtake there so, it was difficult to manage the gap with the guys in front. Not to overtake under the yellow, anything like that, so a lot of precaution in the last couple of laps, taking it very easy. We know how difficult it is to overtake here, so I just controlled the gap with Sebastian as much as I could and not taking any risk.

Q: Sebastian, you pushed Fernando to the absolute limit today but it wasn’t to be. Did you ever think at any stage of the race that it might be on, particularly in the closing stages?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well, obviously it was the only chance I had. Unfortunately in the beginning I had to let him go a little bit and then towards the end of the first stint the soft tyres were pretty much at the end. The car was sliding a lot. We came in at the same lap. Unfortunately at the pit stop I had a little mistake but I think it would have been very close. That is the story of the whole race. I tried to push him as hard as I could into a mistake. He didn’t do a major mistake so as he said it is difficult to overtake here and it would have been too risky, so in the end we got away with second, good points. But the most important is that the car is quick, competitive all weekend. There was a bit missing yesterday and probably that was what I was missing today. I had a very good start, so I think we made good progress on that. In the end it is good to get good points for the team. It helps us a lot in the Constructors’ Championship and in the Drivers’ Championship everything is still very much open.

Q: Mark, you took a big gamble on tyre strategy early on in the race. It paid off just, but what about that collision with Lewis Hamilton?
Mark WEBBER: Well, first of all back to the start. The start was pretty good, so thanks very much to the team. As Seb touched on he had a pretty good one too, so that is good for us to get away and sets the base of the race in a better fashion. Settled into the first stint. Safety car early. Then as you said we decided to pit. I questioned the team to start with and they said it is the right thing, let’s have a go. We pitted and I thought ‘oh, this is going to be a long stint on the primes’. We came back out and when we re-queued up on the safety car I thought ‘okay that’s not too bad’. We were in a reasonable position. I passed a few guys and then I got to Rubens (Barrichello) and he was driving very well. I couldn’t clear him. Then another re-start and it is very difficult to get away cleanly when you have got the backmarkers involved. I got caught up behind one of the Virgins. I don’t know which driver it was. He was doing his best but Lewis got a big run of me. It was pretty harsh for me to have to clear those guys. He could set me up and have a crack at me. Unfortunately we made contact. The contact was similar to what he had in Monza with Felipe (Massa) and it could have easily been my front right tyre over as well. It was not desirable. It was a key part of the race for me to keep him out and there was contact, so it is not something you want to do all the time. After that I had a pretty decent vibration in the front end of the car, very worried if the car would get home to the end. But these two guys drove a fantastic race today. All weekend they drove very well and it was a good race for everyone to see and I am very happy with third.

Q: Fernando, two hours driving in these temperatures. Tell us how hard that was physically and how much this win means for you today.
FA: Well, it was very difficult. We knew that before we came here. We know Singapore physically is maybe the toughest race of the season. Two hours with this humidity in a street circuit with no time to breathe, 24, 25 corners, so it was tough to drive. This wins means a lot. Coming from Monza we knew that that was a unique lay-out, so we wanted to confirm in a normal track even if Singapore is still a very special lay-out as well but with more downforce that the car is performing well. We did it, so this win means a lot to keep in the fight in the championship. We know there are still four races to go but it seems we can be competitive in any track, so thanks to the team. Great job at the factory. Great job at the track as well getting 100 per cent of our potential all the time, so let’s see in the remaining races. Forza Ferrari!

Q: Sebastian, tell us in more detail about the start. Your move and Fernando’s response into turn one.
SV: Well, my move was pretty straightforward. I just went straight. I could see immediately that I had a very good start. It would have been enough for turn one but obviously Fernando closed and went to the inside, so there was no way to go. It would have made the angle for the first corner pretty tight, so I decided to go on the right and try to catch more speed for the rest of the lap. Yeah, that was that. As Mark said and I before, very good efforts on the starts. We have been criticised, wrongly I think, in the past but it is good to come here on a street circuit where it is always tricky to get the right settings for the start and we did both very good starts, so happy with that.

Q: Mark, I guess the main thing for you is that you are still leading the World Championship.
MW: Hey look, I am very happy with third place today. It has been a pretty difficult weekend here to be honest for me. Probably the toughest weekend of the year for me. In Monaco it was the other way around on a street circuit. I felt incredibly comfortable. Did not feel mega-comfortable here most of the weekend but very, very happy with how the race went for me. To get third place out of it. There were parts of the race where I had to stay composed, not panic and it is very easy to get worried about losing so much time behind the guys who are a bit slower, so yeah, getting out of bed this morning I would have taken third. It is a pretty good podium. Of course Fernando is still hanging in there, so need to try and get rid of him somehow, but it is going okay.

Q: Fernando, you have scored the most points of anybody in the last five races. Should we bet our money on you now for the championship?
FA: I think it remains very tight. All five contenders still have the same possibilities. Mark has a little bit more with still some margin to have a bad weekend not putting at risk the contention of the championship. For the others we need to keep catching if we can. We will do our best. We do not know if it will be enough to become champion in Abu Dhabi. But we will give 100 per cent. Hopefully it is enough but people can be sure we will fight until the end.


PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, the pace just seemed to be absolutely relentless. So fast all the way. What sort of percentage were you on?
FA: First stint 100 per cent or 95 as we knew that we had to open a gap first from Webber as he stopped and we had this 30 seconds to open a gap to be able to stop and stay in front of him as he stopped when the safety car was out. To open this gap we were pushing maximum and then to open as much gap to Sebastian to have a little easy pit stop with him not too close. But after putting on the prime tyres obviously we reduced the pace and once with engine side and then mechanical side and then with the driving style as well. We knew that overtaking is nearly impossible here, so we knew we had to avoid any mistake. The walls are very close here and we just try to control the backmarkers as you can lose a lot of time. That was the risky point only.

Q: What about brakes and tyres? Brakes, obviously, very tough around here.
FA: No problems.

Q: Tyre wear?
FA: No problems.

Q: Both okay?
FA: Yes.

Q: Physically, from a concentration point of view also?
FA: Not the easiest race for sure. We know physically it is probably the toughest one. The humidity, lay-out with no time to breathe. A lot of corners, 24, 25 corners, so very demanding physically but also concentration-wise we know that it is the longest race of the championship, nearly two hours driving with no room to make a mistake in terms of walls, etc. Tough but we knew it and we were prepared. All the drivers finished the race in the best condition possible.

Q: Sebastian, you seemed to shadow him all the way but never got any closer?
SV: Yeah, not really. I was hoping for him to hit the wall but he didn’t do it. It is very tough around here to overtake. It is nearly impossible if Fernando did a good job and they had a very strong pace in the race. Probably a little bit stronger than we expected. At the beginning of the race it was a bit difficult. With the soft tyres we were struggling a little bit to keep up with him. Initially it was fine but then towards the end, before the pit stop, a couple of laps, the last 10 laps before the stop, it was quite difficult to stay with him. We had to be careful as if you run behind another car all the time the car is significantly hotter in temperatures for brakes, for the engine, so it was cleverer to back off a little bit and control the gap. Towards the pit stop we closed the gap. Unfortunately I made a little mistake on the mini launch but I think it would have been very close. Possibly the best chance in the race was at the start. I had a very good start but hoped for turn one to be a little bit further down the road. That was pretty much the story of the whole race. Trying to push him as hard as I could. It is not a big secret, it is not easy to follow and always be within one second of him. It is as close as it is going to get. If I was a bit closer, then the next two laps I could feel it. I was dropping off a bit and then getting close again. I think the pace was very good. It is difficult to say as we don’t know how quick Fernando went and how much margin he had but being able to follow him comfortably I think the car was in a very good state. It worked well all weekend. Unfortunately there was a bit missing yesterday and that was a big percentage of the race result today. But, nonetheless, we can be very proud of what we did. Against all expectations we both had a very good launch and we can look forward. The tracks coming up should suit our car very well.

Q: And second place, the points are ideal.
SV: Yeah, it is good points. In the end we have now got four races. It is very tight. I think any of the five drivers at the top of the championship still have a very good chance. Things can change quickly. Best case look at Fernando. People wrote him off for the championship twice already and he is back. You win one or two races in a row and you are back again. The most important is the consistency and as I said, I am confident as we have a very strong car and a good team, so keep our heads down and get the maximum out of us.

Q: Mark, we talked about that early stop but what were the tyres like at the end?
MW: Perfect actually! Completely finished. Fifty eight laps, yeah, there was not much left of them, and obviously there is a lot of straightline and exiting on this track, so the rear performance of the tyres is very important.
First of all, to recap on the race a little bit, the start was very good, so thanks again to the guys there, they’ve done a very, very good job. Gavin and all the guys have done a good job there with the starts. We both got away well which puts you on a good foundation to get going. Safety car early, pitted, I questioned the team, to be honest. I thought ‘hmm, I’m not sure about this, we go back a lot’, but it looked like the field already… or I was surprised I didn’t lose as many positions, so that was good. Then I came back out, I had to clear a few guys. Michael (Schumacher) was very good, fair. I had a good battle with him. Then I got to Rubens. First of all I followed (Kamui) Kobayashi, just for a few laps. I thought ‘my God, if he drives like that for two hours it’s going to be interesting’ but he was really on the limit and missing all the walls and jumping kerbs and I thought ‘God, I’ve got to get past him as quick as possible.’ And then I got to Michael, so that was good and I had a good fight with him. And then Rubens was driving well and clean. The Williams was not too bad in certain sections of the lap, so that made it difficult to get the move done on him. Then it turned into an incredibly strategic race for us, also mechanically and lots of things with the car. The team did a great job keeping me informed. Restart, after everyone stopped I went to third. On the restart I had to clear both Virgins which makes it very difficult if you’re the attacker in this case, which was Lewis. It’s very easy to be set up and then to have a slipstream. Unfortunately we made contact, very similar to like he was with Felipe in Monza, just touching the front right on the inside of the back tyre. I was pretty much locked up not locked up but I was trying to get the front away and I was very concerned that I had damage. For sure, the vibration was quite solid after that. Yeah, I made contact and I just had to get the car home from there on a completely finished set of tyres.

Q: And fortunately no pressure from Jenson (Button) at the end.
MW: No, that was useful. It was just enough to keep the gap nice. That’s how it was. It was similar in Budapest, when I went very, very long on the options and then when I came back out it was very, very nice on the primes and you can drive away, so I knew I had absolutely no chance with these guys and congratulations to both of them, they both drove a very good race. For two hours it’s a long race to watch, it’s certainly long enough for us and certainly long enough for the spectators to watch us going round for two hours, so maybe there’s something we can look at, which Fernando I know has spoken about, but apart from that it was a very good event.


QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Mat Coch pitpass.com) Fernando, before Monza you rated your championship chances about fifty percent. How would you rate your chances now? Sebastian and Mark, how would you both consider your chances?
FA: When I said fifty, it was yes or no, I can win or I cannot win. It depends on how things and how the races go. In fact if we are five drivers, we have around a twenty per cent chance each of us, maybe Mark a little bit more because he’s in front. We saw now, in two races, I was very bad after Spa in terms of championship points, not any more for the title fight. People thought a very bad 2010 championship etc, a lot of mistakes and now, after two races I am second in the championship, eleven points behind Mark, I think. Anything can happen in these four races, any of us can win two or three consecutive races and put you in a very good position or you have one or two retirements and you are completely out of it, you are mathematically out of the championship. So we need to keep concentration, keep the focus and as I said, the chances for all of us are more or less the same. It will depend on how these four races go, hopefully with no mistakes, with very high concentration from all the team and hopefully we keep the same way and keep momentum in Japan as well.

Q: (Alvaro Faes La Nueva Espana) Fernando, is today the moment in the year that you are more convinced, more concerned that you can win the championship?
FA: Well, having a championship that is ten months long, or nine months, doesn’t happen in any other sport normally, even the football league is not that long. We are in a sport where you cannot be a hundred percent or you cannot be completely fit, focused, motivated one hundred percent all the races, every month, so we go up and down, this is normal for all the sports. We can say that now, in this part of the championship I’m at a peak, one hundred percent of motivation, concentration etc., so it’s good to arrive now. Sometimes in the championship, in September, I was getting tired, all these long flights now, at the end of the championship, very stressed all championship long. This year it is different. It feels like the championship starts now, so I feel very happy to go to Japan straight away.

Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto, Motor und Sport) Mark, when you had your battle with Lewis it seemed he had his nose a little bit ahead of you but do you think he gave you enough room, and were you concerned when the team told you there was a stewards’  investigation?
MW: Lewis was certainly a little bit ahead, yeah. As I said, it was probably similar to the last race with Felipe and Lewis. Felipe probably didn’t really even know he was there because there was contact, Lewis was quite a long way back from behind and this can happen sometimes in open-wheel racing. We brake completely on the limit. For sure it was incredibly tight. We did not hit that hard but it was enough to nearly put both of us out of the race. Fortunately I continued, and that was it.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti Corriere della Sera) Mark, when you decided to change your tyres so early, was Hamilton your main target or did you imagine you could catch Fernando and Sebastian?
MW: To be honest I was surprised that I was even going to get as far as Lewis, because I asked the team what was the gap to Jenson in front of Robert (Kubica), because I knew I would clear both Rubens and Robert because I could see them, but I couldn’t see Jenson and I couldn’t also see Robert’s pit board to see how far Jenson was ahead of him, so I needed to get confirmation from the team because I was looking for the pit board to see how far ahead the other guys were. Then they said ‘it’s Lewis’, so I thought ‘OK, that’s beautiful, third place, hopefully it can work well’ and then I thought ‘God, I’m losing so much time behind these guys, the leaders will be pulling away for sure’. I saw a little bit on the big screen that Fernando had a bit of a gap  and then it was Seb and then I saw Lewis on his own, so I thought  ‘yeah, that’s probably the maximum I’m going to get’ which was third place out of the strategy and that worked very well.

Q: (Bob McKenzie The Daily Express) Mark, just to clear up, do you think Lewis was a bit ambitious at that point?
MW: No, he had to have a go, he saw that it was very difficult for me to clear the Virgins. We know that with this regulation where we have backmarkers in the queue on a restart it’s not easy for the guy in front, which was my case, to clear the backmarker. Lewis had a pretty good run on me, but that is the only corner on the track where stuff can happen. Fernando and I had contact there last year, where it was close to contact. When you’re on a restart, when things are a little bit cold, it’s the same for all of us. We know it’s a key point in the race to get right and obviously neither of us wanted to give an inch and in this case it ended up in some contact.

Q: (Frederic Ferret L’Equipe) Fernando, how do you rate your Ferrari for the last four tracks and same question to the Red Bull drivers?
FA: I think some of them will suit our car a little bit better, some of them a little bit better for McLaren or Red Bull but we need to get the maximum out of our car. We know that sometimes we will be on pole, sometimes we will be third but there’s nothing we can do. We remain more or less confident after the Spa performance and the pace in the race here and qualifying yesterday, so we don’t have any particular worries at any of the tracks but we also know that there will be some weekends which will be very difficult for us with Red Bull very strong or McLaren, so we need to really keep getting the maximum out of the car. It’s impossible to know which tracks but I’m sure that we will have some which will be tough for all of us, sometimes for one team, sometimes for others.
SV: I think it’s looking good. We are Red Bull, we are in a unique position again this year and we are horny can you say that in English or does it not make too much sense? I think we have a very good chance. Obviously Korea is coming up which is unknown, no one knows. Other than that, if you look at Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, I think we have a very strong car.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, in Hungary the disadvantage from the Red Bull guys was quite huge. How did you recover as a team and this is one of your tracks, you’ve won twice and been third. How have you achieved this improvement personally?
FA: Budapest, I think, is still a very different track compared to this one. There, I think Red Bull fulfilled a hundred percent of their potential. It was a circuit that was really good for them. Set-up, strategy, everything worked fine for them and maybe we didn’t get the maximum from ourselves in Budapest and here maybe it was the opposite. The characteristics of the car are not only important but also the set-up and approach to the weekend itself. Here in Singapore, I really love this track. As you said, for whatever reasons it suits my driving style very well. Both years at Renault we were not in Q3 most of the championship, and we arrived in Singapore and we were quickest. This year, also, it’s been a good weekend for me, so it’s still a very special circuit for me.

Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Fernando, was this the most precise race you have ever done, optimum all the time?
FA: No, I don’t know. I think I did some better races last year but people, when you’re eleventh, don’t worry too much about your race. When you are in a Ferrari and you win a race everyone is looking at you and supporting you. I think we always try to drive well, make no mistakes, very precisely, especially on this type of circuit but today was team work again with a good preparation yesterday, a good pit stop, good strategy, good management of the tyres, brakes etc., so there are many factors to win the Singapore Grand Prix and Ferrari did everything OK again. So thanks to the team.

Q: (Tony Dodgins Tony Dodgins Associates) Seb, I think you said you were struggling a bit to hold Fernando towards the end of that stint on the options but you were still going quicker than anybody on primes, so were you a bit surprised they didn’t keep you out another couple of laps?
SV: No, I think on options you could see generally that everyone was struggling towards the end. I could see Fernando in front of me, obviously. He was sliding a lot and so was I. The rear tyres were starting to go off. I made a maximum effort to get as close as I could in the end. We could have maybe tried to stay a lap longer or a lap shorter. I don’t think it was possible with the gap. But on the other hand, you go out with the prime and you end up with a new tyre and it’s just so much better, so even staying out I think would have just enlarged the gap to Fernando, so in the end I think it was fair to come in, put some pressure on Ferrari for the pit stop because obviously everyone knows that our pit stops are very strong, so unfortunately, as I said, I had a bit of a wobble with the get-away but I think they had a clean stop as well, so the gap he had in the pit lane probably half a second was still good enough. Unfortunately it was not enough today but I think if you follow another car closely as we did for the main part of the race I don’t know if anybody else did during the race you obviously could go faster, you never know how fast, because you’re not in clean air, but I think the pace was good all weekend. I will still take second.

Question marks continue to surround Korean race

Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt over this year’s Korean Grand Prix, admitting that the venue may not be ready in time.

Speculation has surrounded the October event for sometime, with it now emerging that an FIA inspection, which was expected on September 21, had to be delayed.

Although Autosport reveals that the inspection will now take place after the Japanese Grand Prix, Ecclestone has admitted that this year’s race continues to hang in the balance.

“Until it’s on there’s always concerns obviously,” Ecclestone told The Associated Press. “We have to get lucky and hope it will happen.”

In an interview with the BBC, he added: “Well, it’s not good. It should have been inspected maybe six weeks ago, which it was inspected but it wasn’t passed. We normally have a 90-day check before a race and now we are sort of putting this off.

“It’s quite dangerous what we’ve done actually, but I mean it’s a case of ‘do we cancel the race or not?’ They say it is all going to be okay, so we hope they are right.”

Singapore GP: as it happened!

12.56pm Hello and welcome to forumula1.com’s live coverage of the Singapore GP. Little to report pre-race other than that Jaime Alguersuari will be starting from the pit lane owing to a water leak.

The top five on the grid are the top five in the championship, which should make this very exciting indeed. Rubens Barrichello has the best seat in the house to watch proceedings, being as he is in sixth.

12.58pm They’re clearing the grid now, as the third night race at this track prepares for the off. And Fernando Alonso leads the pack off on the parade lap. There will be 61 laps, and, as it’s a long lap, could be a very arduous race for the men in the cockpits. It’s 30C in Singapore, and the humidity, as ever, is very high.

Lap 1 and they’re off! Fernando Alonso leads Vettel, Hamilton and Button, Webber and Rosberg. Rosberg looked as though he might challenge Webber during the first few corners, but now his challenge has faded. Nick Heidfeld has a broken front wing.

Lap 2 Felipe Massa pits. This is strategy, as you remember he started from the back. And now Nick Heidfeld has a stop, to replace his front wing, but his crew didn’t really seem to be ready! Slow. An inauspicious return to the grand prix racetrack.

Lap 3 Safety Car is out on the basis that Vitantonio Liuzzi is in a dangerous position, after hitting Nick Heidfeld and breaking a right rear track rod.

Lap 4 Vast swathes of the field are pitting under the Safety Car, but crucially only Mark Webber from the real big guns. It could all work out very well for Massa, who might stand to benefit from all this. Liuzzi’s car is not in a dangerous position, by any stretch of the imagination.

Lap 5 “This will be frustrating for a while, but it might be good for us,” Ciaron Pilbeam tells Mark Webber, who of course has pitted. It has meant he is in 11th. Massa is 15th.

Lap 6 Webber passes Glock for tenth as they get back under way. Looks as though Kobayashi and Schumacher are having a ding-dong battle for eighth ahead of him. Webber is the leading driver to have pitted, if that makes sense.

Lap 7 Webber passes Kobayashi for ninth with a great move. And well defended as they went down to the next corner. Hulkenberg does a banzai move on Petrov further down the field. Uncompromising, that.

Lap 9 There’s not a lot going on now. Mark Webber’s evening is not looking quite so rosy if you look at the times. He is a sizeable chunk slower than the frontrunners. The order is Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Barrichello, Schumacher, Webber, Kobayashi, Glock, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Massa, Petrov, Buemi and Alguersuari.

Lap 11 Vettel seems to think, on the radio, that he has something in hand over Fernando Alonso. But he has been told by his race engineer to cool his tyres. Webber up to eighth now with an identical move on Schumacher as he did to Kobayashi.

Lap 13 There is a real train behind Glock, who has done a great job to be where he is. Adrian Sutil can’t get past the Virgin man. Hulkenberg is looking lairy behind them. Alonso is slowly pulling away from Vettel, but I emphasise slowly. “I’m not pushing,” says Vettel, but he does then set the fastest lap. The gap from Hamilton to Button is fairly big and getting bigger.

Lap 14 It’s not great shakes, this race so far. A long game, perhaps, of strategy. Sutil has finally got past Glock, and the others will have a go. If they don’t, that Safety Car pitstop that they all did will have been wasted. “Their races are being destroyed,” says Ted Kravitz.

Lap 16 Hulkenberg forces Glock wide at Turn One, and this promptly lets them all through. Poor Timo….he was doing a fine job.

Lap 17 Looks like Tonio Liuzzi is explaining himself to someone senior at Force India after that contact with Heidfeld. “It was chaotic on the first lap. They put me into the wall,” he tells the BBC. It surely cannot be long before Paul di Resta is installed in his place.

Lap 19 “We keep being the fastest car on the track. We keep going,” says Fernando Alonso’s race engineer. It isn’t going to be difficult for the Spaniard, as long as there are no more Safety Cars. He will be feeling confident.

Lap 21 Webber has to save his tyres, brakes, fuel and everything now so that he is best placed to attack his fellow championship protagonists after they pit. At the moment it looks like he would end up behind fourth-placed Jenson Button. This race promises to be interesting at some point.

Lap 23 The Red Bull team reckon that Webber is fighting Hamilton for third place, ultimately. He seems to be a bit quicker, now, as the tyres are really hitting their sweet spot. At the moment he is battling Rubens Barrichello on track. It won’t be easy, you might think. He just nearly put it in the wall, actually, Webber. A lucky escape.

Lap 24 Lewis Hamilton, in third, is told to find three-tenths to half a second. That will be annoying. The back end is sliding out for Hamilton, whose tyres are not what they were.

Lap 25 Alonso leads Vettel by three and a half seconds. The McLarens are more than twenty seconds behind, and are really losing ground. They need to pit. Rosberg is catching Button hand over fist. A key decision, this, for McLaren. “They’ve got to get them in, put them on fresh tyres,” says Martin Brundle.

Lap 26 How much of a chance does Vettel have of overtaking Alonso? It’s very difficult to tell what their real relative pace is to each other.

Lap 27 Jarno Trulli is in the garage…and Lewis Hamilton decides to pit. Better late than never. “Swift,” says Jonathan Legard. But shock horror, Legard’s missed something. Mark Webber is past.

Lap 29 The leaders pit together. And they exit in the same order as they came in. Vettel blows any chance he might have had to pass Alonso there by pulling away in second gear from his marks. Finally, Button pits too. Webber is 8.7 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. A bad period for McLaren, this.

Lap 30 Martin Brundle doesn’t get why Red Bull brought in Vettel on the same lap as Alonso. He points out that he could have stayed out for a few laps and tried to jump the Spaniard.

Lap 31 Vettel is matching Alonso for pace. And Kobayashi sticks a truly optimistic one up the inside on Schumacher, smacks him, and Schumacher hits the tyre wall. Radio tells Schumacher that they aren’t sure how damaged the Mercedes is. About three corners later, Kamui Kobayashi puts his Sauber in the barrier in an unrelated and inexplicable incident. Bruno Senna goes straight into the back of him. The Safety Car is now out again.

Lap 33 Lewis Hamilton’s drinks button isn’t working. That must be a pain, in this heat. The order is Alonso, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Barrichello, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Massa. They are still clearing up the mess left by Kobayashi’s incident.

Lap 34 Button gets told that Webber is on old tyres and may have brake issues. Surely Webber is just too quick for our British boys today, though.

LAp35 Mark Webber has two Virgins in front of him, and as they restart Lewis Hamilton takes his chance and goes round the outside. As they come down to a ninety degree right hander, they come together. Webber was on the inside but appeared to have enough space. Hamilton’s rear suspension is broken by the contact and he is out of the race.

Lap 37 Hamilton will feel aggrieved, as it’s difficult to see what he could have done differently. Webber, on the other hand, could have avoided the accident if he had gone a bit more to the inside. He caught Hamilton’s back wheel, which seems to indicate how far ahead Hamilton was. The stewards are investigating, though. Received wisdom is that it was a racing incident, and I suspect it will stay that way. Mark Webber’s car is fine, and he continues.

Lap 37 Nick Heidfeld and Michael Schumacher come together in the same place as did Webber and Hamilton. Schumacher, who was behind, didn’t really seem to have much on there. He breaks an endplate but Heidfeld is in the wall and out of the race.

Lap 39 Alonso and Vettel are steaming away, and they are equally matched. This will be very interesting as it comes towards the end of the race.

Lap 41 After all that drama, it has quietened down a bit.

Lap 42 “Let me know when you have trouble with the brakes again,” Vettel requests his team. Surely he’d know if he had a brake issue, wouldn’t he? But he could still challenge Alonso for the win here. A game of chess between the two. Vettel’s taking two tenths a lap out of Alonso.

Lap 44 Lewis Hamilton trudges back to the pits.

Lap 46 Robert Kubica pits – for the second time – from sixth. A bit weird, that. A slow puncture, it could be. Meanwhile, no sign of any penalty for Webber. It would be harsh, most people think.

Lap 47 Vettel is heaping pressure on Alonso now, but the wily Spaniard will not be outdone, even if he is marginally slower at this point.

Lap 47 No further action will be taken against Mark Webber for the incident with Lewis Hamilton, is the stewards’ verdict. The more you look at it the more that seems like the right verdict. It definitely wasn’t Hamilton’s fault, though. Hamilton’s championship hopes very slender now, you’d have thought.

Lap 49 Kubica is battling with Buemi for 11th, after the Pole’s pitstop. Kubica isn’t happy about the lack of space the Swiss is affording his competitor.

Lap 50 Alonso, Vettel, Webber, Button, Rosberg, Barrichello, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Massa, Petrov, Buemi, Kubica, Alguersuari, Kovalainen, Schumacher, Glock and di Grassi.

Lap 51 Kubica is now past Buemi, and chasing his team mate Vitaly Petrov who has had a decent race. Glock retires.

Lap 52 Alonso and Vettel continue to exchange blindingly quick sector times. Kubica profits from a small mistake by Petrov to get through up into tenth.

Lap 53 Buemi pits. Kubica, who is on fresh tyres, has just charged through Felipe Massa. He is setting about Hulkenberg now. Jenson Button may get close to Mark Webber by the end of the race, which will probably reach the two hour mark before we complete 61 laps. You just can’t really see Jenson Button nailing Webber with a banzai move, though, can you? He’s not that kind of man.

Lap 54 Kubica has Hulkenberg in his sights – and is past. And now it’s Sutil who’s the next victim…a superlative effort from Kubica to get past him. Some great work from Robert Kubica there.

Lap 56 There may be a final assault from second-placed Vettel, who has apparently been saving his brakes for the last few laps. There’s a bit of traffic for the leaders, but not too much. Quite exciting, now.

Lap 57 The race will finish, they reckon, now, before the two hour mark elapses. Vettel is very close to Alonso now, a mere 0.9 seconds.

Lap 58 Alonso looks too good at the moment. You just cannot see Vettel being really close enough to do something crazy.

Lap 59 Heikki Kovalainen’s engine blows in spectacular fashion, leaving oil on the track. Alonso arrives on it and loses a little time to Vettel, but Vettel will not be able to have him in the final corners.

Lap 61 FERNANDO ALONSO WINS THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX

It’s Alonso from Vettel, Webber, Button, Rosberg, Barrichello, Kubica, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Massa, Petrov, Alguersuari, Schumacher, Buemi, di Grassi, Kovalainen (classified even though he was on fire).

This will be a great boost for Fernando Alonso’s title aspirations. He has won two of the last two now and roundly beaten the Red Bulls in a straight fight. A fine job from Alonso, who is the definite dark horse for the title now.

And that’s it from me.

2010 Singapore Grand Prix: Post-qualifying Press Releases

Quotes from drivers and team members following qualifying in Singapore.

McLaren

Car #1: Jenson Button Qualified 4th:“Q3 was very tough: I pushed very hard, because I was the first car out of the pitlane and we wanted to make sure we were able to fit two runs in; but in the first sector I damaged the rear tyres a little. After that I struggled a bit. So, for the second run, I thought I’d take it a bit slower on the out-lap, and drive the first sector a little easier, but I didn’t have enough tyre temperature when I got to the first sector – so I struggled. But the second and third sectors were both very good – I just didn’t nail the first sector, and that cost me a few tenths. But fourth isn’t too bad; we’re a lot closer to the Red Bulls than we feared we might be. The Ferrari looks quick, but I’m reasonably happy – much happier than I was after my qualifying here last year. For tomorrow, the start will be the key. My aim will be to pass Sebastian [Vettel]. The Red Bulls’ pace off the line hasn’t been great recently, and I also think we can have a good race because our pace on high fuel has looked good around here.”


Car #2: Lewis Hamilton Qualified 3rd:

“I guess I’m pretty happy with third place on the grid. However, you can always do better, and I reckon we had a decent chance of pole today. My first lap in Q3 was a good, clean lap – but I was too close to Jenson (Button). I could feel his wake ahead of me, so I lost a little bit of downforce, particularly in the last sector. On my final lap, I got the gap, but I didn’t get the lap – but that’s motor racing. Still, it’s great to know we’re a real force here in Singapore. We didn’t know how fast we’d be this weekend – so to find out that we’re only a couple of tenths off pole is a great result for the whole team. Our starts have been pretty good too, so we can both hopefully jump at least one guy ahead of us tomorrow. In other words, we can fight for a win from where we are.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Both Lewis and Jenson performed brilliantly here in Singapore tonight. We’re within a couple of tenths of the pole, we made a lot of good progress yesterday and today, and we feel we’ve got a very good race car for tomorrow. Bearing in mind our comparatively lacklustre pace at Monaco and the Hungaroring, two relatively slow circuits, I’m very encouraged by our performance here in Singapore, which is also a comparatively slow circuit. That improvement is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of very good people, and I thank them all. As for the race, we now feel we can take the fight to anyone, and that’s what we intend to do tomorrow.”

Mercedes GP

Car #3: Michael Schumacher Qualified 9th: “Our target was to get into Q3 which we achieved so I’m reasonably happy with our qualifying performance today. We tried various set-ups throughout the sessions and whilst they paid off at some points, they did not at others. But it was a lot of fun driving the track at this time of night and it really is a special experience. It is definitely different to drive in the artificial light but it doesn’t compromise your performance at all. Starting from ninth place means starting from the presumably better side of the grid so the plan must be to try and gain some positions at the start and go from there.”

Car #4: Nico Rosberg Qualified 7th:”I feel that we should have done slightly better in qualifying today however seventh position is still ok, especially as I found the soft tyre quite difficult to drive and lacking rear grip. We are starting from the clean side of the grid so it will be important to have a good start. We need to keep scoring points in the remaining races so that will be our aim.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
“We’re reasonably happy with our performance so far this weekend. We weren’t as comfortable with the car yesterday but the engineers and drivers did a great job overnight to find some improvements and we have probably qualified where we should be with the car that we have. We could perhaps have squeezed a little more out of Q3 but it is still a decent result. Nico and Michael are starting from the good side and the car is handling fairly well and seems to be pretty easy on the tyres. So we’re in a good position to have a strong race tomorrow and well done to the team for getting the most out of the car today.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Seventh place for Nico and ninth position for Michael with both drivers split by less than three tenths of a second is a respectable team effort with the technical package that we currently have and the team did a good job overnight to resolve the issues that we were struggling with yesterday. Michael did well on his first visit to this special and challenging street circuit and Nico again achieved the best possible qualifying result for us. The race will be very long and tough with the five world championship contenders starting in front of us. Our drivers will be positioned on the clean side of the circuit where more grip is available so hopefully this will help them to gain places at the start.”

Red Bull


Car #5: Sebastian Vettel Qualified 2nd:
“I think we could have been on pole today, the car was good enough. Unfortunately Q3 was a bit messy, my first run was a waste of time as I misjudged the gap to Michael (Schumacher), I caught him very quickly and lost grip. On the second run the most important thing was to get a lap in, as I didn’t have a proper time yet. The second sector was not great, through Turns 11, 12 and 13 and I hit the wall slightly. I tried to recover in the final sector, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough and that was it for today. We are second, but it’s a very long race tomorrow. No one knows what will happen with the weather, if it rains after midday, the track won’t dry completely, so we will see.”

Car #6: Mark Webber Qualified 5th: “I knew the front row was going to be very competitive today, but I’m disappointed to be off the second row. I don’t think I could have done a lap to get on the front row; so it could be worse, but it could be better. We will keep hanging in there as it’s a long race tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes. I was having trouble getting the rhythm around here; there are a few places where I know I lost time on most of my laps because I wasn’t fast enough. Ferrari did a good job and Sebastian has been fast all weekend. Fernando got the pole and fair play to him. Let’s see what we can do from there tomorrow.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
“Second and fifth is a good starting position for tomorrow, but ultimately it’s frustrating after we showed such promise in the practice sessions. Sebastian was on a good lap, but dropped time on the exit of Turn 12, which left him with a lot to do in the final sector. We missed the pole by the smallest of margins today. Mark didn’t have a particularly clean first run, which left him with a lot to do on the second run and unfortunately fifth was his optimum today. It’s a long hard gruelling race tomorrow; we know we have a competitive race car, so we look forward to tomorrow’s race.”

Ferrari

Car #7: Felipe Massa Qualified 24th: “I had a problem with the gearbox which seized unexpectedly, without giving any warning and so I had to stop out on the track: now we have to understand exactly what happened. We will change the engine as a precaution, also taking into account the fact I am last on the grid. I’m expecting to have a very complicated race, especially as we are at a track where overtaking is very difficult, but it’s true that anything can always happen: rain, safety car, who knows! I am very disappointed of course because today we had a very competitive car, as Fernando proved. I like this track but it seems that it does not bring me much luck…”


Car #8: Fernando Alonso Qualified 1st:
“Every pole position is important, but clearly, starting from the front in a race like this and at this point in the season is very important and gives one hope of being able to bring down the gap in the classification even more. Setting two pole positions in a row, at circuits as different as Monza and Singapore is a real boost, because it means that the car can be really competitive at every type of track. It was certainly not an easy day, but in qualifying we managed to get the very best out of the car, while I don’t think our main rivals could say the same. Honestly, I thought that the Red Bulls, which had dominated the weekend so far, would be out in front and that third was a realistic target but instead I am on pole: it’s almost like an Easter surprise! There was a tense moment in Q2 when something did not work as it should have done with the engine mapping, but once it was reprogrammed, everything was back to normal. The start will be very important tomorrow, but even more so will be the need to maintain total concentration for the 61 laps of a very long race that will be extremely demanding both physically and on the car. Track conditions will play a key role, because we have seen that some sections remain damp for a long time, so just a bit of rain even a few hours before the start, could change the situation. We must run our own race and I am sure we can bring home a good result: we are in the best possible position to succeed.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“This was a day of truly contrasting emotions. We are very disappointed that a technical problem meant Felipe basically took no part in qualifying: tomorrow, he will face a very difficult race, as indeed will Fernando, although the outlook for him is very different, starting from pole position. He put in an exceptional qualifying performance, getting the very most out of the car and finding that little something extra to go quickest in Q3. Tomorrow, it will be important to get a good start and to make the right choices, especially with a question mark over the weather and the safety-car: above all, we have to bear in mind that reliability is the crucial element.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
“What happened to Felipe is very disappointing. Fernando demonstrated the full potential of the F10 and it would have been nice to see both cars fighting for the top places. Unfortunately, there was a problem on the gearbox, the cause of which we have not fully identified yet, which meant Felipe had to stop out on track on his first timed lap. Fernando was really fantastic in qualifying: in Q3 he did two timed laps, both of which would have been good enough for pole, that were exceptional given what had happened up until the start of qualifying, as he had never managed to put together a clean lap on the soft tyres. The team did a great job to produce a car capable of fighting for pole. Tomorrow we can expect a very tough race on a track that does not pardon any mistakes. The management of the tyres will be interesting, as the degradation seems a bit more marked than in recent races, which means we might see some different strategies to usual.”

Williams


Car #9: Rubens Barrichello Qualified 6th:
“First of all I’d like to say thanks to the team for bringing new components to this race which have worked. Of course expectations were pretty high, but I think we have matched our ambition today and we have the basis for a good race tomorrow.”

Car #10: Nico Hulkenberg Qualified 12th: “It was a totally frustrating session for me tonight. It’s pretty inexplicable, the car has been good all weekend long and we have been consistently in the top ten very comfortably. On the first run in Q2 on prime tyres, I got backed up by Sutil, then there was a yellow flag. So when I boxed for options I was still confident we could bank a good lap, but the car balance was like night and day. I am not sure if we had a problem, but we will fight on. Although overtaking is not easy, incidents do occur here, so possibilities still exist and the car remains fast.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“It was a great qualifying performance from Rubens tonight, showing that the improvements that we have on his car are working well. Unfortunately Nico missed Q3 by less than a tenth – such a shame because he’s been quick all weekend. But it’s not over yet and a street circuit can throw up many surprises in the race.”

Renault


Car #11: Robert Kubica – Qualified 8th:
“I think we need to stay realistic at this stage of the season because the top three teams are still pushing very hard to develop their cars, while we only brought a small upgrade here. Mercedes and Williams have also been at a very similar pace to us for several races, so we knew we would be fighting in the second half of the top ten today and that meant it was difficult to achieve much more than P8. The car is lacking overall grip, and sliding front and rear, but I was quite happy with my lap. Our timing meant we only did one timed lap in Q3, so it was all or nothing, and I think I got nearly all the potential out of the car.”

Car #12: Vitaly Petrov – Qualified 13th: “Looking at the times, it would have been possible for me to get into Q3 today, but I made a mistake on my first run in Q2. I had gone through Q1 on the prime tyres, and was pushing hard on the options when I went too deep on braking for turn five, lost control of the car and hit the wall with the right rear wheel. The corner was still damp from the rain this afternoon, like it has been most of the weekend, and it just caught me out: it was my mistake. I know that it’s going to be a tough race tomorrow, especially because overtaking is so difficult here in Singapore.”

Eric Boullier, Renault team principal
“We endured a frustrating qualifying session this evening. With Robert, our approach to Q3 was too conservative. We didn’t feel that there was time to do two runs, which meant everything rested on a single timed lap, and that certainly cost him some lap time – although we cannot hide from the fact that our package does not seem ideally suited to this circuit. Vitaly had done a good job this morning to recover from a tricky first day of practice, and it was a shame to see him hit the wall because he had a realistic chance of sneaking into the top ten.”

Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
“Ultimately, our car didn’t have the pace to deliver the results we had hoped for in qualifying. Robert once again delivered a mistake-free qualifying session that took the car to its maximum, and did an excellent job. It was a shame to see Vitaly make a mistake when he was pushing hard in Q2. He experienced a tough time yesterday, but had improved a lot in third practice and was looking stronger. We know it’s a long race tomorrow so we will have to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself.”

Force India


Car #14: Adrian Sutil Qualified 16th:
“It was a very frustrating session for us overall. The first segment went okay, out on the hard tyres and able to get in the top ten, but then when we switched to the soft for Q2 we couldn’t find much of an improvement. We had less grip than on the hard tyre and I got into some traffic on my outlap and the flying lap was compromised. It just all went wrong so I’m disappointed. It’s going to be tough tomorrow as overtaking is hard but if there’s a safety car or anything unexpected we’ll do our best to take advantage of it.”

Car #15: Vitantonio Liuzzi Qualified 17th: “A very disappointing outcome to the session for us. We had the pace in Q1 but then in Q2 on the first lap of my second run I had problems with the front brakes. It was very strange as we’ve not had this problem over this weekend. Unfortunately because of this issue I lost the best of the tyres on what would have been a better lap. We will start at least 16th after the penalties to some of the others in front but we will have to hope for something to happen during the race that we can take advantage of as it’s very hard to overtake here.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Force India chief operating officer
“Overall it’s not been a great day for us. We were expecting more based on the form we showed yesterday and the general balance of the car, but we hit a couple of problems that took us by surprise in Q2. We start further down the field than we would have hoped so we will have to look at all possible strategies for tomorrow’s race. As we’ve seen in previous years anything can happen with the walls so close so we still hope to be able to make up some ground.”

Toro Rosso


Car #16: Jaime Alguersuari Qualified 11th:
“It’s a shame I didn’t quite make it to Q3 in the end, because overall, my weekend has gone well right from the start. I don’t think we can be unhappy with what we have achieved and I am pleased with this performance, also because the team has made a good step forward with the car. I am surprised to be this high up the grid, because in today’s free practice we had a problem with the car set-up, but we were able to correct it for qualifying. After what was my best performance of the season, I would like to send my best wishes to my regular chief mechanic Alberto Gavarini who is back home in Italy, having had a road accident. This is a very demanding track physically, with the heat and the fact there are no long straights to give you breathing space, but I feel good and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s race, as I think this is the best chance we have to score points, especially as the car is better balanced in race trim than it was for qualifying, so we can be optimistic.”

Car #17: Sebastien Buemi Qualified 14th: “Qualifying did not go well for me today and I seemed to be stuck in traffic on every lap and the one clear lap I got was spoilt by yellow flags. The main problem I had was a serious lack of grip. Jaime did a very good lap whereas this morning I was going better than him, so I am not really sure what happened, but obviously, I am disappointed. As for the race, overtaking is never easy on a track like this, but fourteenth on the grid is not a disaster. It is a long race here, so if we don’t make any mistakes, have a good strategy and the pit stop goes well, then who knows what we might be able to achieve in the way of a result. It will also be tough physically, so it will be important to be well hydrated.”

Giorgio Ascanelli, Toro Rosso technical director
“Jaime missed out on Q3 by what I estimate was two milliseconds per corner! I think the team has done a good job and, first in Monza and now here, the car has made a step forward. That is not because of new developments, but rather that we have worked out how to run it better. The drivers did a decent job and Jaime drove fantastically well: he could have made Q3 but he still has a bit to learn, in terms of managing to get the most out of the car and therefore set his time on the first lap of a run, although I am sure it will come for him soon. This is our best qualifying performance of the season, so I cannot be unhappy and for tomorrow, we should have a good race pace, particularly with Jaime.”

Lotus
Car #18: Jarno Trulli Qualified 21st: “I’m pretty disappointed with how it went tonight. This morning’s practice was pretty good but on the first run in qualifying on the options I couldn’t find any real grip so I switched to the primes. I think I got the most out of the car I could by the end of Q1 – braking obviously plays a big role here, and I’ve been struggling with the rear end locking all weekend, so I hope it improves tomorrow.”

Car #19: Heikki Kovalainen Qualified 19th: “Qualifying today was quite difficult to be honest. The traffic made it really tricky as there were cars on slow laps when I was on a quick one, and I think I missed my best opportunity on the second set of tyres which were brand new. I gave it my best shot, and I think the last lap was about as good as I could have done today, so at least I split the Virgins and got pretty close to Timo. It’s still game on for tomorrow, and I think we’re in good shape for the race, so we’ll see what happens.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“A pretty disappointing qualifying session today. Jarno has not been happy with the balance on the tyres all weekend and that carried through to qualifying. Heikki was generally happier on the option tyre but unfortunately he was held up on what would have been his quickest lap. Despite that I think the race pace of the car is strong and we look forward to a better performance in the race tomorrow.”

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
“I don’t think we got the best out the car today, but it is what it is. Honestly, I’m reasonably happy, as I thought we might not have been quite as close to Timo as we ended up he goes very well here and I think that if the traffic hadn’t played its part Heikki might have been able to get past him. As development on this year’s car stopped back in July and we put our resources into the 2011 car, we always knew the competition would become closer as the season drew to an end, with our closest rivals continuing to bring upgrades to each race. With that in mind, the fact that Heikki is as close as he is to Timo means we cannot be too disappointed. Jarno also did a good job today, after a tricky weekend for him on a track he does not favour, and they are both pumped up to fight tomorrow, so there’s all to play for in the race.”

HRT


Car #20: Christian Klien Qualified 22nd:
“It is great to be back and I am very happy about my qualifying result from today. I was a bit nervous before the session but then I was completely concentrated on doing the best lap time possible. I could improve constantly during the weekend and we achieved our aim completely. We are ready for anything that can happen tomorrow, and I hope to achieve a good result again.”

Car #21: Bruno Senna Qualified 23rd: “It was hard to drive today. In the third practice, we had understeer and in qualifying, it changed to oversteer. But tomorrow is another day and we hope that the track conditions will improve again. We are trying to do better tomorrow and I am looking forward to my first night race.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“Today we are quite happy with the qualifying result. Christian Klien got more and more used to the car and felt more comfortable than yesterday. He could improve continuously all over the weekend and due to traffic on his fastest lap in third practice, he could even have done better. He did a very good job. Bruno Senna could use the option and prime tyres well and was pushing very hard today. I am sure he will show a good performance again during the race. Tomorrow is going to be a tough as it is very hot and humid here and the drivers need to concentrate to not make a mistake.”

BMW Sauber

Car #22: Nick Heidfeld – Qualified 17th: “I am not completely happy. I hoped for more and I think I didn’t get the most out of the car. But perhaps this wasn’t realistic considering the fact I only drove this car yesterday for the very first time with these tyres. There is a lot to learn and I’m sure we will be benefitting from it soon. I’m not too pessimistic for the race, because the long runs in free practice under race conditions were quite good. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”


Car #23: Kamui Kobayashi Qualified 10th:
“I am very happy. I managed to do a couple of good laps in qualifying. In free practice on Friday I didn’t find it easy. For me the track was new and it obviously is a challenging one, as well as a special one with the heat and the lights. But I also wasn’t happy with the car in free practice. The team did a great job in improving it, so in qualifying it was good and I think my result is the best we could achieve today.”

Peter Sauber, BMW Sauber team principal
“For Nick it was the first qualifying in this car and with these tyres, neither of which he knew. The result is okay. Tenth for Kamui was a surprise for all of us after the first three practice sessions. Congratulations for a great result! This was the ‘overture’ to Kamui’s home race in Japan in two weeks time.”

James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
“Overnight we made several set-up changes to the car, with these mostly being mechanical to try to improve the balance we had yesterday, which seemed to be inconsistent for both drivers. There was an improvement to the cars this morning, but we still had a few issues on Kamui’s car to address. That was dealt with for qualifying. Nick was happier with the car but was struggling a bit with traction, which, as well as the kerbs, has been our biggest problem. We weren’t too sure where we were after third free practice. Kamui put in an outstanding lap in Q2 to make it into the top ten qualifying. It was always going to be tough to do that here today, but he extracted the full potential out of the car and the tyres, so it was a great lap. For Nick it was fairly close, but he only had a single lap to get his time because he had a problem on his first lap. He had to learn incredibly quickly this weekend, so the way he got back into qualifying after such a long time was a good job. We saw great work from the team and a fantastic lap from Kamui. I expect we can fight for points tomorrow.”

Virgin


Car #24: Timo Glock Qualified 18th:
“I’m very happy with our performance today, both as a team and from my point of view. The car was not easy to drive but I got everything I could out of it today. We were using the soft tyre a little too hard, especially at the rear, so maybe if it had stayed consistent we could have squeezed another tenth or two out of the car. Overall though a good performance to be the best of the new teams once more and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I really like this circuit, especially when the conditions are drying, so I hope for a similar track in the race and we will see what we can do.”

Car #25: Lucas di Grassi – Qualified 20th: “A very good qualifying performance from us, with me finishing in front of one Lotus. Even though I missed out on one of the practice sessions it feels like my best qualifying of the year. It’s a very difficult track so every time I get in the car I’m still improving, a tenth here, half a tenth there. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

John Booth, Virgin team principal
“A very satisfying day. Both car crews worked well to solve the issues of yesterday and tune the car balance for qualifying despite the tricky conditions today. Timo has been on top form all weekend and put in a great qualifying session to head the new teams throughout. Lucas also did a great job to make up for lost time yesterday and was unlucky to be pipped by Kovalainen right at the end. Both cars have run reliably this weekend and we look forward to an exciting race tomorrow.”

Bridgestone


Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development

“Once more we had difficult track conditions with a wet track to start the running. Drivers certainly have to work hard to avoid the barriers and the engineers have to work hard to understand how the tyres are working in these challenging but entertaining conditions. From our perspective, we found the circuit evolution very strange so it is difficult to understand tyre behaviour. Generally with the super soft, driver feedback was of more oversteer than normal so this has been an intriguing weekend so far. When and if there is any rainfall will be a primary strategy consideration. If there is a wet track, it seems to take a very long time for the surface to dry so those sat in the cockpit will have to drive very accurately and pay strong attention to their work. If it is a dry track for the race, the wear and performance durability of both dry compounds should allow a wide range of strategy options so there is potential for a variety of strategy calls. Wet or dry, those on the pit wall will also have to concentrate very hard indeed tomorrow, but I think there is good potential for an entertaining race, just as we had an enjoyable qualifying session today.”

2010 Singapore Grand Prix: Post-qualifying Press Conference

Fernando Alonso is joined by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilt0n in the post-qualifying press conference.

SATURDAY POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE September 25, 2010

DRIVERS:
1. Fernando ALONSO (Ferrari), 1m45.390s
2. Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), 1m45.457s
3. Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren), 1m45.571s

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Fernando, a thrilling qualifying battle with the lead changing between you and Sebastian sector by sector on that final run but you did it.
Fernando ALONSO:
Yeah, obviously it was not an easy qualifying. We had very little running in dry conditions as it seemed to remain damp on some parts of the circuit during the weekend, so we arrived to qualifying not completely 100 per cent confident in the car in some of the corners. We build up the confidence in Q1 and Q2 and then in Q3 we tried to push at the limits. Both of my tyres worked really well and both attempts were similar in terms of lap time. Obviously in the car we don’t know what others are doing but I was quite happy with my lap. I did not know if it was enough to be on pole, second or fourth but I think we got 100 per cent out of the car today, so that was the main target for us.

Q: There was an engine concern for your team-mate Felipe Massa. You had to re-map your engine. What was the problem?
FA: Well, we tried to understand Felipe’s problem. Looking at the telemetry until the car is back probably we will not know, so we made some safe changes in the car just to avoid any risk. We were running with some experimental things here and after Felipe’s problem we went back to the standard ones. We had a problem the first time we changed it, so in Q2 we were running with the wrong maps in the car and we were lucky to get into Q3 and then in Q3 with the right maps the car was feeling better.

Q: Sebastian, you had a problem on the first run in the final part of qualifying. But where did it get away from you in the end?
Sebastian VETTEL:
Yeah, it was a pretty messy qualifying for us. I think we had a very smooth practice yesterday and this morning. This afternoon never really got into the rhythm, always a little bit in traffic and I just did not get it into one lap as I did in practice. In the final qualifying session, Q3, the first run I misjudged the gap to the car ahead. You don’t want to let your tyres cool down too much and then after four or five corners I was already in the back of Michael (Schumacher). Therefore the first run was lost. Second run I was on a good lap, then in sector two, 11, 12, 13 I was slightly in the wall in the exit and lost too much time there. I could recover from it in the last sector but not enough. In the end I think we had the car to be on pole but unfortunately only second by a little amount of time. But anyway I think we have a very quick car for tomorrow and we should be in a very strong position, so good start. I don’t know about the weather. I think no-one knows. Then we see.

Q: Is this a bit of a surprise for you as everybody up and down the pit lane thought Red Bull had a big advantage here?
SV: Well, I think we have an advantage, yes, but as it turned out in qualifying the others were a little bit closer and we did not get it all together. Probably we should have gone quicker but would, should, could. Can’t change it now. Obviously I am not the happiest today to go to sleep. Fernando is probably a little bit happier. But it was tight. They did a very good job and as he said they got the maximum out and this is what we and I didn’t do today, therefore we are only second.

Q: Lewis, good result for you ahead of your title rival Mark Webber and just a tenth off the Red Bull.
Lewis HAMILTON:
Yeah, not such a  bad qualifying session. A bit of an improvement compared to Monza. I think we had perhaps a little bit more in the car but it is tricky out there making sure you found the gap. I cannot really complain. I am on the clean side of the grid and we have had the best starts for quite some time now, so fingers crossed that will continue tomorrow and it puts us in a good position.

Q: You have won here before. How do you see tomorrow’s race unfolding?
LH:
I am sure tomorrow is going to be an extremely tricky race considering how long it took today for the track to dry. I am sure if it does rain this evening or sometime tomorrow it will never dry out. It takes so long. Fingers crossed it doesn’t rain the whole day and it is not a problem but if it is wet, then we have got our work cut out for sure.

Q: Fernando, the momentum is with you and Ferrari. Can you keep it going tomorrow in the race?
FA:
Well, obviously it is going to be a tough race. But we are in the best position to start. Pole will help in dry and wet as well in terms of visibility, so let’s try to take the opportunity. As Lewis said I think if it rains anytime during the day probably there will be some parts of the track that remain wet for the whole race, so it is a race to survive in a way as well. As I said, starting on pole is the best thing we can do. We are not too worried about wet or dry. We should be okay in both.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Fernando, your second pole position this year. But tell us about the importance of pole position here.
FA:
Well, we know that there are some circuits where pole position is important. This is one. If it is wet tomorrow it doesn’t count too much as it will be very difficult to see on the track. If it rains at anytime in the day it will be wet, so maybe pole means really less in those conditions as you can lose four or five seconds in one lap in those types of corners where they are damp. But it is the best position to start the race. The points are on Sunday afternoon, so in preparation for this Sunday afternoon you need to make a good Saturday and today we did.

Q: What about that first run? A lot of the time seemed to come in the final sector.
FA:
Yeah, obviously different characteristics in the car. It seemed to struggle a little bit more in the second sector and being a little bit more comfortable in the third one. Also the behaviour of the tyres and how you prepare the tyres change the picture in terms of level of grip in the three sectors, so we knew that the third sector was giving us some performance there. That is something where we have normally been quick, in the third one, all weekend.

Q: How does that translate into the race itself? What differences does it make for the race?
FA:
Nothing different. Obviously the main target is to be on the podium. At the moment Lewis and Mark are in front in the championship, so the target is to finish the race in front of them if we can. If we cannot finish in front we try to finish as close as we can to not lose more points. At the moment the job for tomorrow is to do that. Then when someone else is leading the championship we concentrate on those. But at the moment Lewis and Mark are the two in front.

Q: So a pretty satisfactory day all round?
FA:
Yeah, we arrived here knowing that maybe Red Bull was very strong here. We saw yesterday a strong performance from them. This morning as well. Today our pole position is good for us. It is good news. One Red Bull is second, one is fourth here, so this is maybe a surprise for us.

Q: Sebastian, what happened on the first run?
SV:
I caught Michael up quicker than I thought. Misjudged the gap a little bit. Probably took it a little bit quicker in the last couple of corners than he did and ended up already close when I crossed the line. I started the lap and thought ‘okay, we will be okay’. I counted to the first corner. It was around three seconds, two-and-a-half and caught him quicker than I thought I would, so I was stuck behind him. Not much I could do. Then for the second run I had a good beginning of the lap. In the middle sector I lost quite a lot of time in the complex 11, 12 and 13. Slightly hit the wall on the exit, so lost out. I tried obviously to finish the lap as I didn’t get a lap in before, so couldn’t risk too much in the last sector and missed pole by a little bit. Obviously we should have been on pole today by a little bit, so didn’t achieve our optimum. It was not a very smooth qualifying session with traffic here and there. Too many mistakes. But that’s how it is. Tomorrow is more important and starting second is not a bad thing considering that they did quite a good job on cleaning the circuit. Looking at other races, second is not as bad as the last couple of years, so we will see. As Fernando said if it rains tomorrow then anything is possible. I think we have a very strong car no matter the conditions, so we will see.

Q: You started second last year, what’s the difference?
SV:
Yeah, I lost the position to Nico (Rosberg), I think, who was starting third. Obviously it’s not ideal, I would have loved to have been on pole but that’s not the case, so we have to be happy with second and I still think that if we go second or third into the first corner, depending on the conditions, we have a very good car and we are able to win, so we will see. Tomorrow is much more important than today.

Q: Lewis, I think you had quite a bumpy ride over the chicane on the second run.
LH:
Yeah, the session was OK. The first lap I was much too close to Jenson, so in the last sector I think I was losing a bit of downforce but nevertheless, it was still quite a good lap. On the last lap I didn’t improve, it just wasn’t a good lap.

Q: You said yesterday that the Red Bulls were beatable; what are your feelings now?
LH:
Yeah, well they are beatable, clearly. Fernando has proved that today and through qualifying. Clearly they don’t have the two second lead that they had at one stage this year, and so that’s a positive for us. I think myself and Jenson are doing a solid job, the team is doing a solid job, the car feels good and our long run pace is even better than our qualifying pace, so I feel that tomorrow we will have a good race.

Q: We were a bit worried about the yellow flag in Q2, did you see that?
LH:
Yeah, there was a yellow flag in Q2 in turn five, and as I arrived, it switched off, it disappeared. The light was on and then it disappeared, and they told me it was clear as I went into the corner.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta Turun Sanomat) Question to you all: usually qualifying means 90 per cent of the race result on street circuits. Do you think that’s also the case tomorrow?
FA:
Well, hopefully yes. I think it depends on the conditions. I think if it’s dry there is no doubt that it’s difficult to overtake here and like all street circuits, if it’s wet or if it’s half dry, half damp, anything can happen, because you can lose or gain a lot of seconds in two or three corners, so that will change positions very quickly in the first or in the middle of the race or whenever, so I think it will depend on the conditions, it will mean more or less the positions of the grid.
SV: I don’t think there’s more to add. It’s a long race here. The weather situation is completely open at this stage, so depending on when it will rain tomorrow it will be wet or half wet but surely it will be tricky. This is one of the longest races at nearly two hours, so it’s a very tough one too and a lot of things can happen. Sure, the further you are up in qualifying the more it helps but obviously the race can still change a couple of things. I think Fernando started here from 15th on the grid and won the race two years ago.

Q: (Frederic Ferret L’Equipe) Sebastian, you started from second last year. Is there a way not to repeat the same start, and how is the grip on the bad side of the grid?
SV:
You’ve said it: it’s the bad side of the grid with probably less grip, we will find out tomorrow. But I think judging around the track and also the pit exit, obviously they have a new cleaning machine here for the asphalt which helped a lot throughout the weekend. OK, the water doesn’t disappear, but in terms of dust, I think it’s much better than it used to be for the last two years, so it should be fine. I think there’s a picture right outside here where you can’t even see the last five cars starting into the first corner because there was so much dust. It will be similar tomorrow but probably not as bad which should give us a good chance and we hope for a good start, see what we can do.

Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto, Motor und Sport)  Fernando, how big were the concerns about the engine after Felipe stopped obviously with an engine problem and apparently an electronic problem? Has it anything to do with the underground (railway) which I think might have been the reason for upsetting the electronics in the past?
FA:
We don’t know, I don’t know at the moment. When I was in the car they informed me that Felipe had some kind of problems in the car, I think electronic problems but I really don’t know what happened or what is the reason why it happened. In our car, it was running OK. I don’t know, probably the team knows something more now that the car is back.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, I would like to know if you have some new updates on your starting system and the same from Fernando?
SV:
If we have the same system as Ferrari? No, I understood! Yeah, lately our starts were not as good as they used to be at the beginning of the season. We struggled a little bit to put consistent starts together, but we’ve done a little bit of homework and I think we should be more resistant tomorrow, even if the grip isn’t that good. I think that all in all, there’s nothing wrong with our starts, just the last couple of races, if you sum it up, sometimes we were a bit unfortunate. In Hockenheim we had some problem with the clutch, Hungary was OK. Silverstone I think we had the same start as the Ferrari behind us, just on the worse side, so therefore I don’t think there’s much to worry about. As I said, we have some improvements nothing big, we don’t come here with new parts, so pretty much as we have been, just the set-up is slightly different.
FA: No, nothing new. We were happy with our starts so far.

Q: (Jose Carlos Carabias ABC) Fernando, apart from the weather, what are you more worried about for tomorrow? The performance of your opponents or to manage to do everything with the starting system?
FA:
There are no big worries for tomorrow. The start is OK, the pace is OK, the car is OK and the weather is OK, both conditions.

Q: (Carlos Miquel Gomez Grand Prix Actual) Fernando, five years ago you became World Champion on a day like today. Is this a good present or do you want more?
FA:
Well, I didn’t know it was today, the exact day. Obviously there’s no need for presents or anything like that but pole position is a good way to start tomorrow’s race and keep fighting for this 2010 Championship that has been up and down, sometimes in the fight, sometimes not, and if we want to be in the fight until Abu Dhabi we need to be consistent and finish the race tomorrow with strong points.

Q: (Sarah Holt BBC Sport) Lewis, you have Fernando starting in front of you and Mark lining up behind you. Who are you going to be more worried about as you plot your strategy off the start?
LH:
Neither. We pretty much have the best starts out of everyone now which is pretty good, so I’m hoping that will continue that way. As you saw, Jenson’s start in the last race was great and he was able to jump ahead of Fernando. Our starts aren’t bad, so we can’t really be too worried. I think tomorrow’s just about getting a decent start, whether it’s dry or wet and staying clean around the first lap. That’s the main goal.