26 September 2010
Alonso wins Singapore Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso closes to within eleven points of the world championship lead after taking a second successive race win - and his second in three outings in Singapore.
For much of its first half, the 15th round of the 2010 F1 world championship was more 'Singa-bore' than Singapore, but the race was enlivened by the unlikely coupling of Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber and Bruno Senna's HRT, which precipitated the second safety car of the evening.
Prior to its re-appearance, the field was becoming strung out, with leaders Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel comfortably ahead of their rivals, but with Mark Webber having taken advantage of an early tyre stop to vault ahead of the two McLarens when Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button made the switch to the harder rubber approaching half distance.
The bunching of the field, however, allowed Vettel the chance to close in on Alonso and, more crucially, brought Hamilton and Button back under Webber's rear wing. When the Australian was momentarily baulked by Lucas di Grassi's Virgin, Hamilton pounced, scything inside the Red Bull at turn six. Turn seven was against the Briton, however, and Webber responded by leaving his braking later - with the inevitable outcome that the pair made heavy contact.
Hamilton was out on the spot, his second accident-induced DNF in as many races, but Webber managed to carry on, back up to pace after a few visual checks via the datascreens, but with Button now closing in courtesy of his fresher tyres.
The race had first been curtailed on lap two, following repeated contact between the Sauber of returnee Nick Heidfeld and the Force Indias of Tonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil. While Heidfeld needed a new nose, Liuzzi's race was over, the Italian attempting to find safe haven for his car in order not to require the pace car.
Alonso was safely in front, having beaten Vettel off the line without needing the aggressive swerve he put on the German, while Hamilton, Button and Webber followed at a distance, having maintained their grid positions despite Button appearing to make a better getaway than his team-mate.
Further back, Felipe Massa, relegated to the very back of the grid after his qualifying gremlins, had already made up a handful of places, but Ferrari opted to pit the Brazilian in an effort to get his mandatory tyre change out of the way and give him some clear track to make up further ground. The safety car mitigated against that strategy, but Red Bull still decided to pit Webber as the pace was slowed, dropping the championship leader out of the points, but with the advantage of having stopped while those ahead of him soldiered on.
Quickly disposing of the stubborn Timo Glock - who would go on to hold up a train of others to have stopped under the safety car - Webber made steady progress back up the order, clinically disposing of Kobayashi and Schumacher to reach eighth, even as Alonso opened his advantage over the Australian to 16 seconds. Webber then came close to collecting the wall at turn 18 as he chased a stubborn Rubens Barrichello, but survived the scare to remain in contention for a podium.
Alonso, meanwhile, was controlling the gap back to Vettel, who had emerged as his only real rival for victory as the McLarens began to lap a full second slower than the Ferrari, but would not have known that his pursuer was suggesting that he had more pace in hand for when he needed it.
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