September 22nd, 2013 (F1Plus / Rebecca Creed) - Sebastian Vettel once again took a dominant victory in Singapore. Alonso and Raikkonen raced strongly to make up the podium despite being over thirty seconds behind the German.
Many may have thought the race was boring but there were hints of excitement with wheel-to-wheel racing between the Mercedes, McLarens, Massa and Hulkenberg. It only seems like a matter of time before Vettel walks away with his fourth title.
Sebastian Vettel took yet another dominant victory as he moves ever closer to taking his fourth drivers title. It had looked like he had lost first position to Nico Rosberg at the first corner but Vettel managed to get back ahead just seconds later. From then on Vettel was challenged very little. After the safety car, caused by Daniel Ricciardo’s crashed Toro Rosso, he was set to race Romain Grosjean to the finish before the Frenchman had to retire. Mark Webber was chasing Kimi Raikkonen for third when he suffered a gearbox problem. He was quickly caught by those behind before his car caught on fire. After hitching a lift with Fernando Alonso back to the pits both were called to the stewards. They both received a reprimand but this is the third reprimand for Webber this season. As a consequence he will get a 10-place grid drop for the next race in Korea.
Fernando Alonso finished second recovering from a disappointing qualifying. Having started seventh he was third by the second corner after running down the side of the track. Despite his impressive race he was not in a position to challenge Vettel with the German having a gap of over thirty seconds. Felipe Massa kept us entertained as he battled with the Mercedes, McLaren’s and Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg as the race drew to a close. He ended the day in sixth. Both Massa and Alonso had gambled at the safety car, with Alonso pitting for Medium tyres and Massa putting on a set of Supersofts. Massa will hope he is doing enough to advertise himself to other teams in the paddock.
Kimi Raikkonen overcame a terrible qualifying and back pain to finish third. The Finn took the final podium place having started the race in 13th. There had been fears he would not race after suffering from back pain on Saturday. Raikkonen also gambled like Ferrari by pitting during the safety car for Medium tyres and made them last until the end of the race. He overtook Jenson Button to claim third as the McLaren began to struggle with its tyres. Grosjean had looked set to produce a great result after his third place start. Midway through the race he was sixth and would have challenged Vettel at the end of the race but was forced to retire with a valve problem on his engine. The Frenchman was less than impressed with his car’s failure. The team got a reprimand after a member of the team assisted with Grosjean’s stop without wearing head protection.
After starting from second on the grid Rosberg attempted to get ahead of Vettel at the first corner. The German managed to get ahead of his compatriot if only for a few seconds before Vettel passed him. After that Rosberg was unlikely to challenge for the lead again. He held onto second despite suffering some a lack of downforce due to a front wing problem. Whilst this was sorted at his pitstop he was passed by Alonso. Unlike others both he and Lewis Hamilton did not pit under the safety car and had to stop again. They followed each other as the laps counted down passing the Saubers of Gutierrez and Hulkenberg, then the McLarens of Perez and Button before passing the stricken Webber. They finished fourth and fifth.
Jenson Button had looked on course to take McLaren’s first podium of the season after rising to third following the safety car. The Brit had pitted under the safety car changing to the Medium tyre and attempting to last until the end of the race. After losing third to Raikkonen he was quickly passed by Webber, Rosberg, Hamilton and Massa. He was by this point eighth and now battling with his teammate Perez. After Webber’s car problems Button and Perez finished in seventh and eighth.
Hulkenberg scored points for the second race in a row. The German finished in ninth after starting 11th. Hulkenberg had a number of close battles throughout the race including the clash with Perez where he was unhappy to have to give the place back. The team gambled with both drivers pitting under the safety car for Medium tyres and staying on those tyres until the end of the race. Hulkenberg and Gutierrez were sixth and seventh before being passed by Webber, the Mercedes and Massa. Hulkenberg held off Force India’s Adrian Sutil for the two points. Gutierrez had out qualified his teammate and reached Q3 for the first time on Saturday but by the end of lap one he was behind Hulkenberg. The Mexican then lost a further two places to Sutil and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado at the end of the race to finish 12th.
Adrian Sutil took the last point with a final charge to the finish. The German had a bad start from 15th with his 17th placed teammate Paul di Resta passing him on lap one. Sutil quickly caught the battle between the McLarens and Hulkenberg as the laps counted down with all four separated by less than half a second. Di Resta had looked on course for points before crashing out of the battle for ninth with just laps to go. The Brit had run as high up as third being one of the last to make his first pitstop. This won’t help his hopes of getting a top drive after failing to finish the last three races.
Pastor Maldonado missed out on the final point as he finished 11th for Williams. He overtook Gutierrez in the closing laps but could not reach Sutil to take 10th place. Valtteri Bottas found himself behind the impressive Caterham of Giedo van der Garde in the early part of the race before passing him. The Finn once again had to pass Van der Garde before the end of the race. He also managed to pass the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne for 13th.
Daniel Ricciardo made Q3 in qualifying and started the race from ninth but got a terrible start to be passed by a number of cars on lap one. The Australian only lasted until the 24th lap where he went straight on and into the wall bringing out the safety car. Jean-Eric Vergne’s day did not go much better. He made it to the end of the race but could only finish in 14th.
Giedo van der Garde spent some of the race mixing it among the midfield. He ended the day in 16th behind Bottas, Vergne and a stationary Webber. The Dutchman beat Marussia rivals Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi. Teammate Charles Pic ended the day last of the backmarkers in 19th.
Max Chilton finished behind Caterham rival Van der Garde. The Brit beat his Marussia teammate Bianchi on merit under the lights. Bianchi finished ahead of the other Marussia of Charles Pic.