Peter Anderson | Sep 24, 2012

Sebastian Vettel took out his second Singapore Grand Prix victory after both front-row starters - Hamilton and Maldonado - fell by the wayside.

It wasn't easy for the German, having to contend with two safety cars and oppressive equatorial heat.

Webber had a race to forget, the Australian looking unhappy for the most of the weekend. He had terrible luck with the safety cars and never threatened for the podium, eventually copping a penalty.

 

Practice and Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel dominated all three practice sessions but it was Lewis Hamilton who stole pole under lights on Saturday.

Webber had an ordinary evening, qualifying seventh while compatriot Ricciardo scored fifteenth. Vettel nabbed third and Raikkonen could only manage a curiously leisurely twelfth.

Bruno Senna heaped embarrassment on himself with three trips into the armco, compounded by a gearbox penalty and his teammate sharing the front row with Hamilton.

Charles Pic got his name in lights, but for all the wrong reasons. He passed under red flags at the end of Free Practice 3, earning him a 20 second race penalty and a day of FIA community service for him and his engineer.

 

Race

Webber told James Allen before the race, "You get a bit of a flogging around here". Prophetic words from Mark.

Hamilton got a great start while Maldonado didn't, slipping backwards with bad understeer and allowing Vettel and Button through.

The fireworks off the start were between Webber and Rosberg and then Webber and Grosjean. Schumacher caused the drama, causing both Webber and Rosberg to skate across, rather than through, Turn 2.

The two Caterhams came together, Petrov coming off worst. Massa had a puncture, dumping him to the back after he pitted behind Petrov.

Hamilton set about building a lead of almost two seconds over Vettel, who didn't seem to have an answer. Button rapidly fell away from Vettel's gearbox while Webber stalked di Resta who was running sixth.

Webber pitted first on lap 9 for soft compound tyres, dropping him to 20th behind Pic's Marussia but with clear air in front of the Frenchman.

Up front, Vettel was on the softer tyres in the sister Red Bull and already struggling, pitting on lap 11. That stop dropped him to thirteenth behind Perez and a lot of traffic.

Alonso followed Vettel's lead on lap 12.

Hamilton's tyres were going away up front as he dropped almost a second on the twelfth lap as the Briton tried to eke out a two-stop strategy.

It was to no avail and he pitted, allowing Button into the lead. He fell to fifth in front of Raikkonen.

di Resta pitted on the same lap and he resumed his place in front of Webber.

Both Lotus cars lost out in the first round of stops, with Raikkonen falling in behind Schumacher and Grosjean behind Rosberg.

Button dragged his tyres through to lap 15, dropping from the lead to third but clear of traffic.

Pastor Maldonado's pass on Hulkenberg nearly ended in tears as the Williams driver got out of shape with the DRS open out of turn 6, the Venezuelan making the move stick in a cloud of brake dust.

Sauber's Sergio Perez was suffering as his team insisted he drag his tyres out as long as possible, perhaps hoping for an early safety car. His teammate lasted another two lap, pitting on lap 20.

Lewis Hamilton came to grief on lap 23, his McLaren stuck in neutral, which is unlikely to have improved the Briton's mood as he mulls a shift to Mercedes.

This allowed Vettel in to the lead and for the German to become the first repeat winner in the city state.

Webber pitted on lap 29, after running the soft compound for twenty laps. He had made no impression on di Resta, the Red Bull driver pitting for super-softs.

Maldonado and Alonso pitted together, with the Williams crew keeping their man in front of the championship leader. It wasn't for long, though, as Alonso monstered him for a series of laps with superior grip.

Karthikeyan brought out the Safety Car by understeering into the tyres at Turn 18 under the grandstand, his HRT's front right snapping off.

Button and Vettel pitted together, as did Raikkonen. Webber only picked up a few spots, finding himself stuck behind the Force Indias again.

At the restart it was Vettel, Button, Alonso and di Resta.

Maldonado's great weekend - his best weekend since Spain - came to an end as his hydraulics failed and yet again he failed to score a point.

On the restart Webber and Hulkenberg had a breathtaking battle through the first five turns. Behind them, Rosberg Grosjean and Perez also squabbled over seventh.

Michael Schumacher slid into the back Jean Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso, in an eerily similar manner to his race-ending incident last year.

Vergne had been pressuring Perez and Schumacher completely locked his front tyres, showering the track with debris on impact and calling out a second Safety Car.

Schumacher immediately apologised to Vergne, the two drivers trudging out of the escape road together, the sport's most and least experienced drivers together.

Schumacher was handed a ten-place grid penalty, despite the German claiming he had a mechanical problem.

Webber pitted for the final time, his only consolation getting out ahead of one of his Force India tormenters.

The restart was without major incident, although Brazilians Massa and Senna battled hard for ninth. The two touched on the Anderson Bridge, but it was Massa who slithered into the next apex with his nose ahead.

Soon after, Webber made a heart-stopping pass on Kamui Kobayashi around the outside. Kobayashi got boxed in by Hulkenberg and the contact broke Kobayahsi's front wing and left the Force India with a puncture.

Vettel remained secure at the front as he kept a stable gap back to Button.

Alonso ran in third and Paul di Resta held fourth right until the end, his best career finish.

Webber rounded up Senna on lap 54 and set off after Ricciardo but was unable to pass the Toro Rosso.

"Just not quick enough this weekend," he told his engineer Ciaran Pilbeam over the radio.

It got worse after the race when he was deemed to have left the track to overtake Kobayashi, the twenty second penalty removing him from tenth place and the points.

Perez grabbed the final point while Daniel Ricciardo scored valuable points in ninth. Kimi Raikkonen converted twelfth on the grid to a creditable sixth.

Vettel crossed the line after 59 laps as the race bumped into the two-hour time limit. Button crossed ten seconds behind him with Alonso a further six seconds back.

Alonso leaves Singapore with his championship lead still well intact and Vettel's hard-fought win puts him back in contention.

Formula 1 returns in two weeks at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

 

Results

  1. Vettel - Red Bull-Renault 2h00:26.144
  2. Button - McLaren-Mercedes +8.959
  3. Alonso - Ferrari +15.227
  4. Di Resta - Force India-Mercedes +19.063
  5. Rosberg - Mercedes +34.784
  6. Raikkonen - Lotus-Renault +35.759
  7. Grosjean - Lotus-Renault +36.698
  8. Massa - Ferrari +42.829
  9. Ricciardo - Toro Rosso-Ferrari +45.820
  10. Perez - Sauber-Ferrari +50.619
  11. Webber* - Red Bull-Renault +47.175
  12. Glock - Marussia-Cosworth +1:31.918
  13. Kobayashi - Sauber-Ferrari +1:37.141
  14. Hulkenberg - Force India-Mercedes +1:39.413
  15. Kovalainen - Caterham-Renault +1:47.967
  16. Pic** - Marussia-Cosworth +1:42.925
  17. De la Rosa - HRT-Cosworth +1 lap
  18. Senna - Williams-Renault +2 laps
  19. Petrov - Caterham-Renault +2 laps

* Post-race penalty awarded
** After 20 second post-race penalty.

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