Time’s Up – Singapore Grand Prix 2014
The Singapore GP was relatively calm and straight-forward despite a safety car incident. Lots of flubs on the pits and even some genuine action on-track, but perhaps a slightly less interesting race than some past years.
Race broadcast direction: Good – I was impressed with the broadcast director this time around. No missed yellow flags (though it took a while for him to get to Button), more than half the pit-stops were caught on camera. There was even a lot of focus on the mid-lot scuffles which was nice. A little on the back-lot too, though mostly because of Rosberg. Over all, pretty impressive.
- Lewis Hamilton – After his team-mate was forced to start from the pits, Hamilton went unchallenged for a long time. Not even the safety car managed to take away his advantage. Though Hamilton was running low on tires by the end, his gap was enough to allow him one final pit-stop on the last leg of the race. Hamilton retook the championship lead with this finish.
- Sebastian Vettel – Vettel had a clear start with Rosberg out of the way and passed his team-mate later on. This was easily Vettel’s best pace of the season.
- Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull’s future talent also kept his cool despite early pressure from Alonso. This is the Aussie’s seventh compared to his championship winning team-mate’s third. Ricciardo is definitely on his way up.
Fernando Alonso also put forth another impressive race in the difficult Ferrari season, sticking to the front crew and achieving a 4th place for his efforts. His team-mate, Kimi Räikkönen, was also in the Top-5 for a long time but fell back during pit-stops. He was also caught off-guard by an assault of Toro Rosso and Force India drivers, putting him in 8th place by the end.
Felipe Massa drove a solid, flawless race, but couldn’t catch up to his former team-mate, which landed him in fifth.
Jean-Eric Vergne is clearly desperate to prove himself with his contract at Toro Rosso expiring at the end of the season. Vergne was given two Stop-N-Go penalties during the grand prix, both times for not respecting the track limits. At the finale, Vergne went on the offensive and over-took everyone up to position 6. Despite not having gone to the pits for his second penalty, Vergne pulled away so fast that the eventual 5 seconds added to his time did not affect his standings. A ruthless but impressive drive from the Frenchman.
Sergio Perez had a hell of a time, causing the safety car to come on when he broke his front wing on the back of Adrian Sutil’s Sauber, leaving debris on the track. Much like Vergne, Perez went on the offensive towards the end and managed to frazzle Räikkönen who had just managed to overtake his countryman. Perez’s seventh place was an excellent result for the Mexican, considering his less than spectacular race over-all. Similarly, his team-mate, Nico The Hülk was stuck fiddling around in the back-lot, but rose up to points by the finale at 9th.
Kevin Magnussen managed to only somewhat salvage a disappointing end result for McLaren by taking 10th for the team, but really, a disappointing finish considering both cars were on points at the start of the race.
Golden Pineapple Award: Valtteri Bottas – Whoever came up with Williams’ tire strategy for this race needs to get shot. Valtteri and Massa were both stuck driving on harder tires after the safety car. What the team seemed to think was going to be their advantage turned completely on Valtteri, who was ahead of Räikkönen at sixth. However, his tires gave out entirely a few laps short of the finish, and he was passed by the cluster of Vergne, Perez, Räikkönen, Hülkenberg and Magnussen, landing him just outside the points. I really feel bad for Valtteri and I hope him much better luck for the next race.
Drop-out count: 5
It seemed to me that all the retirements resulted from technical difficulties of one form or another. The biggest one of all happened right at the start as Nico Rosberg‘s car couldn’t take off on the warm-up lap and he was forced to start from the pit-lane. Problems persisted all through the opening laps with Nico finally coming to the pits to change his steering wheel. However, his car was stuck on neutral gear and he couldn’t leave the pits, leading to Nico losing his lead in the championship.
Kamui Kobayashi was also forced to park to the side of the road on the warm-up lap after his Caterham had an engine blow-out. Jenson Button‘s McLaren also gave out on the second half of the race, disappointingly considering Button’s standings.
It was a dark day for Sauber with both of their drivers forced to quit. Not only was Esteban Gutierrez‘s first pit-stop botched up, he pulled back into the pits on the following lap and was forced to retire. The Mexican was visibly angry at the sudden retirement. His team-mate didn’t fair much better. Though Adrian Sutil seemed to get away from his bump-in with flat tire, his pit-stop was also botched up and he later received a Stop-N-Go penalty for going over the track-limits. Finally, Sutil too was pulled out of the race for unseen reasons.
Back of the Lot News:
Team Lotus showed a lot of gusto for once with both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado driving on points temporarily mid-way through the race. However, they two fell foul to the Toro Rosso and Force India assault. Maldonado landed 12th ahead of his team-mate.
Daniil Kvyat also seemed to be on his way to a good finish but started to fall behind later. Quite strange considering Kvyat started from the Top-10.
Marcus Ericsson drove probably his best race since the Monaco Grand Prix, his one and only pineapple standing. Not that there was anything special about the result other than him keeping Nico Rosberg behind him, but at least the Swede was able to keep Caterham’s arch-enemy, the Marussias, behind him.
Jules Bianchi had an uncharacteristically weak race and were it not for his team-mate’s misfortune, he could have been dead last this round…
Dead last: Max Chilton – I’m not going to be too hard on Chilton this time around. The Brit suffered a tyre puncture early on and was one of many drivers with botched up pit-stops this round, leaving him well behind everybody in the first half of the race.