12.50pm Hello and welcome to forumula1.com’s coverage of the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel can win the world championship today if he finishes on the podium, but he needs the following to happen: if he wins, Webber and Button must be third or lower and Alonso fourth or lower.
If the German wunderkind is second, he’ll need Hamilton not to have won, Webber and Button to be fifth or worse and Alonso eighth or lower.
And if he is third, he’ll need Hamilton not to have won or come second, Webber and Button to be seventh or worse and Alonso ninth or worse.
Whew. It is, of course, a night race here, and much has been made of the physical and mental demands of the next two hours and 61 laps on the drivers. As Lewis Hamilton has said, though, it is unlikely that Vettel will be feeling much stress. He can only do what he does best and let all the permutations work themselves out behind him.
Because behind him the action will surely be. Vettel’s dominance was again on show yesterday as he stormed to another pole position. Webber starts second with Button third on the grid, followed by Lewis Hamilton and then Fernando Alonso.
And the circuit does indeed look spectacular, a ribbon of white amongst the glimmering lights of this superb city.
The grid is being cleared now as they prepare for the start.
The parade lap is a sight to behold. There aren’t many adjectives which would do justice to this event, but spectacular is one of them.
Lap 1 And they’re off under the lights! They bomb down to the first turn and it’s Vettel in the lead followed closely by Button! Webber had to defend from Hamilton and has fallen back, but not so much as Hamilton himself! Yes, the Englishman is down to about seventh or so…
No contact as yet but some chicane hopping…Hamilton is eighth behind Schumacher. Vettel leads from Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Rosberg, Schumacher and Hamilton.
Lap 2 Ricciardo is going slowly – he has no front wing, so obviously a whack from somewhere for the Australian. Hamilton has finally found some speed but he will have a sense of deja vu being behind Schumacher!
Alonso got a good start, as did Rosberg, who it turns out had some contact with Massa and was forced to cut the chicane. It doesn’t seem as though there will be any retribution from the stewards for the Merc driver.
Lap 3 Vettel is scampering away.
Lap 4 DRS is enabled. Hamilton makes the most of it and passes Schumacher. Massa gets told to have Webber if he can, using the same mechanism.
Lap 5 Vettel is almost five and a half seconds ahead of Button now. Hamilton lines up Rosberg and does exactly the same to him as he did to Schumacher, but round the outside. Hamilton now in sixth.
Fifth placed Massa isn’t close enough to be giving fourth placed Webber any headaches just yet.
Lap 6 It’s now likely that Hamilton will move on to a two-stopper. Even so, Vettel shows no evidence that he will be caught.
Lap 7 There isn’t a lot going on, frankly. Webber says that his DRS is not working.
Lap 8 Vettel is now the best part of nine seconds out front.
Lap 9 Paul di Resta is on the harder tyres and they don’t seem to be markedly slower. He’s in tenth, where he began, only a couple of seconds or so behind ninth-placed team mate Adrian Sutil.
Lap 10 Webber seems to have closed up to Alonso in third. Rosberg pits. The order is Vettel Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Hamilton, Schumacher, Sutil, di Resta, Perez, Maldonado, Barrichello. And scrub that….there’s a battle going on with Alonso and Webber and Webber is through! Great stuff from the Australian and he’s up to third.
Lap 11 Alonso’s rear tyres are shot! He pits. Will the same happen to Massa? Hamilton is following intently. We lose Timo Glock, he’s gone into the gloom of an escape road.
Lap 12 Massa and Hamilton pit together and emerge together. Massa onto primes, Hamilton os the super softs. As they get up to racing speed they are fighting…and come together! Hamilton’s wing is damaged and…Massa has a puncture. Racing incident but “clumsy” from Lewis as David Coulthard rightly calls it.
Lap 13 Webber pits but comes out behind Alonso! That won’t please him. Hamilton has decided to stay out even though he only has half a front wing. Rosberg is in attendance as he can smell blood.
Lap 14 The incident between Massa and Hamilton is under investigation. Hamilton pits now and he emerges into 15th or so.
Lap 15 Vettel and Button both pit, from the lead and second respectively. There are passes down the field…Sutil on a Sauber and Michael Schumacher is on the move too.
Lap 16 Hamilton, somewhat predictably, has got a drive through penalty for his part in that coming-together with Massa. Sigh. He needs a holiday, I think.
Lap 17 di Resta, not having pitted yet, finds himself in third. Wow. He saved a set of tyres from yesterday too, did the Scot. A good bet for points today.
Alonso is five seconds clear of Mark Webber and is hunting di Resta down.
Lap 18 Alonso is on di Resta now and needs to pass the Scot. Along the straight he cannot challenge.
Lap 19 Hamilton has served his drive through and he is 16th. Alonso is through past di Resta. The Scot did not make it too difficult. Webber is now on him. But di Resta does him a favour and pits.
Lap 20 It is Vettel, Button, Alonso, Webber, Rosberg, Schumacher, Sutil, di Resta, Perez, Maldonado, Barrichello, Massa, Buemi, Kobayashi, Hamilton.
Lap 21 Hamilton requests information from McLaren as to what is possible for him today. Points, they reply, points. There is a long way to go.
Lap 22 Hamilton acts on this information and promptly has Kobayashi for breakfast.
Sparks are flying here, but harmless literal ones I’m afraid. Webber is closing on Alonso, though.
Lap 23 Alonso is hard on his rear tyres and Webber is profiting from that. The Australian is perched on the Spaniard’s gearbox.
Lap 24 “Drive as you need to,” Red Bull instruct Vettel. A rough translation: do whatever you like. Stop and take a picture or two if you want. You probably would still win.
Lap 25 Alonso locks up as he defends valiantly. I imagine Webber will get past soon though.
Excitingly, Hamilton is bearing down on Massa again. A nice prospect in the offing.
And no, I tell a lie – Hamilton is already past Massa. We’re getting a replay now and Massa ran wide, letting the Englishman by rather more easily this time.
Lap 26 Alonso pits again. Ferrari obviously think their best option is to undercut the Australian. Hamilton passes Barrichello for tenth, although his brakes are starting to emit a marked amount of black dust.
Lap 27 Force India are running line astern in fifth and sixth, Sutil leading di Resta. Good race so far from them. And Sutil has let di Resta by, strategically. Ours not to reason why.
Lap 28 Massa sets the fastest lap. He might think he has unfinished business – particularly with Hamilton.
Lap 29 Rosberg is eyeing up sixth – a spot currently occupied by Sutil. And Rosberg has run very wide following him at the last turn…and he is now defending from Perez. Down to the first corner and they touch but Perez yields…and Schumacher is on them.
Lap 30 And Schumacher and Perez are battling away…and they’ve come together! A big crash! Schumacher is airborne! He’s into the barrier. Spectacular stuff but he is ok, having mercifully just avoided the braking Nico Rosberg ahead. Safety Car out.
Lap 31 That wasn’t pretty. Schumacher could have possibly avoided the whole thing – I don’t think Perez was to blame.
Alonso’s strategy has worked as Webber obviously pitted and came out behind him. But the SC coming out will have meant any advantage other than purely positional will have been eroded.
Schumacher looks to be ok but he will have had a thump right up his spine as the car landed after the initial contact with Perez.
Lap 32 No news of Perez – he must have continued. Hamilton has pitted under the SC.
Lap 33 “Does Michael Schumacher need to be racing in the middle of the night, crashing into barriers?” asks Martin Brundle. SC is due in this lap.
Lap 34 We’re under way. Button is stuck in traffic and unable to challenge Vettel. Mark Webber, however, is shadowing Alonso and he has had him already! I don’t think Alonso saw that coming at all.
Lap 35 Lewis Hamilton is up to eighth and on Sutil. Di Resta, Rosberg, Sutil and Hamilton are within a second and a half of each other. Perez – who has continued – is now joining that battle too.
Lap 36 And Vettel is setting fastest sector times willy nilly.
Lap 37 Hamilton is struggling to get past Sutil but he’s managed it eventually. The German was not obstructive to his mate there.
Lap 38 Button may not stop again, which could be a trump card against Vettel, especially if there’s another safety car.
Hamilton has Rosberg for sixth!
Lap 39 The order is now Vettel, Button, Webber, Alonso, di Resta, Hamilton, Rosberg, Sutil, Perez, Massa, Maldonado, Barrichello, Buemi, Kobayashi, Kovalainen, Senna, Petrov.
Hamilton has already taken di Resta. The Englishman is on the move and is now fifth. Next up is Fernando Alonso although he will, you imagine, be slightly more difficult to pass than the recent company Hamilton has been keeping.
Lap 40 Kamui Kobayashi has a drive through for ignoring blue flags. Perez and Rosberg’s coming together is being investigated too.
Lap 41 The Renaults are having a torrid weekend. Senna is battling Kovalainen for 15th, which I believe he now has. Petrov is looking sluggish in 17th too. He is only ahead of Virgins and HRTs and the Lotus of Trulli.
Lap 42 Hamilton has the gap to Alonso down to just over 12 seconds.
Lap 43 “I didn’t anticipate his braking would be so early,” says Schumacher by way of explanation for the accident.
Nothing is happening. Oh, Webber is catching Button. Which obviously goes to show that any hope of Button winning this race is at best forlorn and at worst utterly, utterly futile.
Lap 44 Alonso is now only 11.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton. The stewards will not punish Rosberg further for clouting Perez just prior to the Mexican’s clash with Schumacher.
Lap 45 The BBC are amusing themselves, in the absence of anything real to talk about, by hypothesizing about Red Bull’s technical jargon over the team radio. Any ideas, guys, over what “be ready line one” may mean? No, neither have I.
Lap 46 Hamilton has stopped reducing the gap to Alonso.
Lap 47 A definite quiet period, at this juncture. Has Singapore gone to sleep?
Lap 48 Well it is now looking very unlikely that Vettel will take the championship today. Webber pits. He comes out behind Lewis Hamilton. “He’s on very old options,” Red Bull tell Webber by way of motivation.
Lap 49 Button pits and Webber is through past Hamilton as the latter’s tyres have fallen off Beachy Head. Ferrari will have to respond, although perhaps Hamilton’s battle will be more with the Force Indias.
Lap 50 Vettel pits and nearly gets wiped out by a Lotus on his way out. Alonso has also paid a visit to his mechanics too.
Hamilton has to pass the Force Indias, Rosberg and Perez again as a result of having stopped. And he has disposed of Perez easily.
Lap 51 Hamilton approaches Sutil and is past serenely. Seventh is where he is right now, with Rosberg and di Resta up next.
Lap 52 We’ve lost Jarno Trulli to what looks like an engine failure. Hamilton is on Rosberg, who defends successfully down the straight but cannot stop the Englishman rolling onwards for long.
Lap 53 The order is Vettel, Button, Webber, Alonso, di Resta, Hamilton, Rosberg, Sutil, Perez, Barrichello, Massa, Maldonado, Buemi, Kobayashi, Alguersuari, Senna, Kovalainen, d’Ambrosio.
Lap 54 Hamilton has made short work of di Resta. Lewis up to fifth again, then, but with precious little chance of catching Alonso, who is ten and a half seconds up the road. That is less, mind you, than it used to be.
Lap 55 Button is two seconds a lap quicker than Seb Vettel now. The German has still the best part of ten seconds ahead, though.
Lap 56 This has been a long long race and Button is doing a great job to keep the pressure on at this late stage. It is all a bit futile.
Lap 57 The gap is visibly decreasing now and there is, as ever, a faint hope that Vettel will make an error or have a mechanical issue.
Lap 58 Vettel has traffic, into the bargain. The gap is 5.7 seconds now.
Lap 59 The gap is 3.7 after that traffic but Button will have to negotiate them too. And he is, and it’s slowing him.
Lap 60 This is over. Button lost two seconds there as he was getting through and with two laps to go, Vettel has enough of a cushion. Thanks go to Button for making the last few tours interesting.
We have lost Jaime Alguersuari to a minor crash. There is no time, or need, for a Safety Car.
Lap 61 Vettel has approached more traffic in the shape of Perez and Massa. They will not hold him up too much and Button has given up anyway, I reckon.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
Another dominant performance by the German, but the championship champagne is still on ice thanks to the performances of Jenson Button and Mark Webber in second and third respectively. Button is, therefore, the only man mathematically who can take the championship from Vettel’s unrelenting grasp.
Button would have to win every race, though, with Vettel not scoring. Which is tremendously unlikely.
Alonso takes fourth but his championship charge, as with Hamilton in fifth today, is over. Di Resta was sixth with Rosberg seventh and Sutil eighth. Massa, close to the rear end of the Force India, takes ninth, with Perez tenth.
That’s all from me, thanks for following.