F1 » 25 September 2013
David Tremayne: Red Bull give a reality check
Three time Guild of Motoring Writers Journalist of the Year Award winner David Tremayne casts his eye back over the Singapore Grand Prix…
In his latest exclusive feature on Crash.net, David Tremayne - three time Guild of Motoring Writers Journalist of the Year Award winner and multi-award winning F1 author - takes a look back over the Singapore Grand Prix…
As if Spa and Monza hadn't been bad enough, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull gave their rivals another reality check in Singapore.
Prior to the race a curious thing had happened in the paddock. After Red Bull's uncharacteristic pace on those low-downforce tracks, everyone started looking forward to returning to a high-downforce venue in the hope of being able to tackle the Milton Keynes team - forgetting that such circuits had hitherto been regarded as its metier.
What lay ahead was thus an even more fearful drubbing. There has been at least one safety car intervention at every race we've had in Singapore, so after taking pole position even after boldly electing not to do a second run in Q3, Vettel had to give it everything the RB9 had in the opening laps so that he could build a gap ready for this year's intervention. That duly came on the 25th lap after Daniel Ricciardo had tanked his Toro Rosso into the wall the previous lap.
After snatching back the lead from Nico Rosberg's Mercedes in the first corner, Vettel had opened a gap of 1.9s by the end of the first lap.
It was 4.1s after the second, and so it went on. And when the race resumed on the 31st lap, he just did it all again. He had a few brake vibrations towards the end, but he was never remotely challenged in one of the most dominant performances in recent history. If anyone truly imagines that anyone other than he will be World Champion this year, they're dreaming.
Fernando Alonso might be in the wars at Ferrari lately, as far as internal politics are concerned, but yet again his warrior spirit won him third place at the start after a brilliant getaway from seventh on the grid, and once Rosberg was delayed by rubber debris clogging his front wing and losing him downforce, and then during his second pit stop when it had to be cleared away, the Spaniard finished a wonderful second. He's worth every cent of his Ferrari salary, because as the 32.6s deficit to Vettel illustrated once and for all, the F138 surely isn't in the RB9's league. But right now it's the next in line if he's driving it.
Nor was the Mercedes W04 up to scratch, Lewis Hamilton's great Hungarian GP win notwithstanding. Rosberg qualified well, nearly stealing the pole as track conditions improved in Vettel's absence, but once again Hamilton did not. In the race they both drove the wheels off their cars, but clever strategy from Ferrari and Lotus in pitting Alonso and Vettel under the safety car and trusting them to eke 36 laps out of a set of medium Pirellis left the Mercs only fourth and fifth.
Red Bull's recent improvement has stopped the Silver Arrows' run of poles, and compromised their ability to win on high-downforce tracks.
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