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.