Ferrari own goal in Singapore puts McLaren in the driving seat for title
Ferrari were left to lick their wounds in Singapore after a bungled pit stop and a mistake from Kimi Raikkonen sent the Scuderia into meltdown and left rivals McLaren in command of both championships for the first time since April.
Once again it was the Italian team’s electronic pit release system that did the damage when Felipe Massa pitted after the first safety car period.
Ferrari triggered the green light before the fuel hose had been detached and not only was Massa released straight into the path of another car, as he had been in Valencia earlier this year, but he also carried the fuel hose down the pit lane and was forced to wait at the pit exit while it was detached.
“At the pit stop, one of the guys made a mistake,” said Massa. “But we are only human. Each one of us always tries to do our best and these things can happen.”
A drive through penalty for Massa’s “unsafe release” sealed the Brazilian’s fate and he trailed home thirteenth, while Kimi Raikkonen threw his car into the wall for the second time in the space of three races trying to make up ground in the closing stages.
“I was trying to attack Glock in case he might make a mistake,” he said, “but I went slightly wide at the chicane, jumping over the kerb and when the car landed, I lost control and ended up in the barriers.”
The result catapults rivals McLaren into the lead of the constructors’ championship for the first time since April with the Woking squad leading Ferrari by a single point with three races remaining. Lewis Hamilton meanwhile leads Massa by seven points having stayed out of trouble to finish third.
“A black day, there’s little else to say,” rued team principal Stefano Domenicali. “We had the potential to finish first and second but we didn’t even pick up a point. We are very disappointed but that doesn’t mean we are downtrodden.”
“We have always shown our ability to react, especially at the most difficult times and we will do it again this time. The situation in the two championships has become more complicated but there are still three races to go and a lot of points up for grabs.”
McLaren’s Ron Dennis admitted that they asked Lewis Hamilton to nurse his McLaren home in the points once it was clear Ferrari had dropped out of contention.
“In the last few laps, having seen Kimi’s accident, we advised Lewis not to attempt to overtake Nico but instead to settle for third place and the seven-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship that the resulting six points netted him,” the 61-year-old explained.
“The race was a hugely successful event, and we’re delighted to have emerged from it with the lead in both the Drivers’ and the Constructors’ Championships.”
Ferrari team manager Luca Baldisserri was under no allusions that the Italian squad had missed a great opportunity to seize the initiative in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship having shown strong race pace all weekend.
“We could have made a significant step forward in both championships but we ended up going backwards,” he said.
“Now we must roll up our sleeves and prepare as well as possible for the coming races. There is still plenty of time to recover but there is no more room for error.”