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Hamilton dominates to secure Singapore success

27 September 2009

Lewis Hamilton bounced back from the disappointment of his last lap retirement at Monza to secure his second win of the 2009 F1 season on the streets of Singapore.

Having qualified on pole position, the McLaren man produced a dominant performance under Singapore's lights to pick up victory in the second F1 night race, while Toyota and Renault were given reason to cheer as Timo Glock and Fernando Alonso joined the Briton on the podium.

From pole, Hamilton lead the field into turn one but behind, Nico Rosberg produced a fine start to get the jump on Sebastian Vettel into second place. Vettel also came under pressure from Alonso's Renault, but the German was able to hold on to retain third. With Alonso forced wide, Mark Webber made a move for fourth into turn seven and was able to get ahead, although the Australian ran wide in the process and would ultimately be ordered by the team to allow Alonso back through. With Glock having passed Alonso when Webber forced him wide, the Red Bull man would lose two places as a result.

Through the opening laps, Hamilton was able to pull away from Rosberg out front, despite a scare with his KERS system which led to the team telling the defending champion to disable the system. Luckily, the issue resolved itself and allowed Hamilton to continue to make the most of his extra powerboost.

While Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel pulled away from Glock, Alonso and Webber, Rubens Barrichello was running in seventh with Robert Kubica eighth, while a heavy Jenson Button had settled into tenth behind Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren.

The race quickly settled down into a routine, but Rosberg's hopes of challenging for his maiden F1 victory came to an end during his first stop. As the Williams man exited the pitlane, he ran wide over the kerbs and the white line and was duly handed a drive-through penalty.

Before he had chance to take his penalty, the race went under caution when Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld collided, with debris littering the circuit and leaving officials with no choice but to put the Safety Car on track. The incident came after Sutil tried to make a move on the slower Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari but suffered a spin, with the German then collecting Heidfeld's BMW as he tried to spin his car back the right way round. Heidfeld was out on the spot while the front was wiped from the Force India and Sutil returned to the pits. He too would eventually retire.

Hamilton had pitted shortly before the incident so retained his lead ahead of Rosberg and Vettel, with Glock, Alonso and Barrichello rounding out the top six. Kovalainen and Button were also now in the points, while Webber had dropped down to ninth.

Rosberg pitted shortly after the race resumed to take his penalty and plummeted down the order as a result, which left Vettel to take the challenge to Hamilton for the win. The pair quickly started to pull away from Glock, who in turn was leaving Alonso behind, with Vettel shadowing Hamilton's every move.

The duo ran together before Vettel pitted for his second stop but he then picked up a penalty for speeding in the pitlane which removed him from contention and effectively left Hamilton clear for a run to the flag.

With the battle for victory over, the focus turned to the championship battle between Barrichello and Button further down the field. Barrichello had led the points leading throughout, with the earlier Safety Car period having forced Button to pit early and change his strategy.

The pair were running in fourth and sixth – split by Kovalainen's McLaren – when Webber went off at turn one after suffering issues with his front-right brake. The incident saw a number of drivers, including Hamilton, Barrichello and Kovalainen, dive into the pits in case the Safety Car was deployed again, but with the car cleared without the need for a caution, Barrichello's decision would cost him dear.

Button elected to stay out and out in a series of quick laps that ensured that when he made his second stop, the Briton came out ahead of both Barichello and Kovalainen and was able to extend his points lead over his team-mate as a result. Button will now take a 15 point lead to Japan next weekend, and could secure the drivers' crown if the result goes his way.

While Hamilton, Glock and Alonso were untroubled in their runs to the flag and the podium positions, a recovering Vettel looked set to come under pressure for fourth from Button before the points leader was forced to slow to conserve his brakes in the final laps, with Barrichello also forced to slow for a similar reason as he settled for sixth, Kovalainen and Robert Kubica completed the points scorers, with the latter coming out on top of a late three-car battle for the final point involving Williams' Kazuki Nakajima and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen – who lost vital time in the early stages behind the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi and was never in contention.

The delayed Rosberg ended up in eleventh ahead of a disappointing Jarno Trulli, while Giancarlo Fisichella and Tonio Liuzzi completed the 14 finishers having battled towards the rear of the field throughout the race.

Aside from Webber, Sutil and Heidfeld, three further drivers failed to make the finish, including both of the Toro Rossos – with Alguersuari and Buemi pitting to retire on the same lap. Alguersuari in particular endured a difficult race as he was off the pace of his rivals and pulled away too early from his first pit stop and damaged the fuel rig. Romain Grosjean completed a miserable weekend in the second Renault, managing just four laps before retiring with a reoccurrence of the braking issues that he had suffered during qualifying.


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