Race Notes: 2008 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix

2008 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix
Marina Park Circuit, Singapore
5.07km street track

Welcome to the first ever night race in Formula 1!

What we learned in qualifying:

The lighting works well. The drivers are more worried about the bumpiness of the circuit, which is high. The track is quite wide and there are a lot of corners.

Laptimes in qualifying were 1m44s or so, which is what they do at Spa’s 7km circuit – Singapore is only 5km so that’s how much slower it is.

Joining ITV coverage.

Anchor/Analyst: Steve Rider & Mark Blundell
Commentary: James Allen & Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz & Louise Goodman

The humidity is very high, at least the temperatures are lower than daytime. They are worried about rain which has appeared during the week. If it rains at night there will be a lot of glare from the lights reflecting on the track.

Short package of Button making a ‘Singapore Sling’ cocktail which he says is very alcoholic and may be the most expensive drink in Singapore!

ITV Qualifying Report with James Allen
- Massa is becoming a street racing specialist after results in Monaco and Valencia.
- Button and DC knocked out in Q2.
- Hamilton struggled in Q2 and only just made it through in 10th.
- Massa’s 0.6sec advantage in Q3 suggests he is fuelled lighter than the opposition. Hamilton is 2nd, Kimi 3rd.


GRID ORDER

Q3 Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica, Kovalainen, Vettel, Glock, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Nakajima
Q2 Trulli, Button, Webber, DC, Alonso
Q1 Piquet Jr, Bourdais, Barrichello, Sutil, Fisichella

Note – This includes Heidfeld’s 3-place penalty for impeding a car, he blocked Barrichello when entering pitlane. It wasn’t intentional, the pitlane entry and exit positions are not ideal here and are actually quite dangerous.

Alonso was FAST in qualifying and looked good for the front row, until mechanical failure in Q2 meant he didn’t set a time.

Fisichella will start from pit lane following accident damage in qualifying.

ITV take us to an onboard lap with poleman Massa. He’s fast and the back end is sliding!

After the lap, Mark Blundell tells us the Ferrari looks much easier to drive over long runs, he’d much rather be driving that this weekend than any of the other cars.

Ted has been talking to mechanics and team personnel about having breakfast at 4.30pm, lunch at 11pm and evening meal at 4am. Pat Symonds of Renault says it is working surprisingly well. They are displacing their routines by the same amount of time as the sessions. It doesn’t faze Kimi though.
Raikkonen – “I sleep when I feel like it and I wake up when I feel like it.”

Louise is with the physio at Williams, talking about how tough this track is. They will lose 2-3kg of bodyweight. With this European timezone routine everyone is only getting 4 hours of daylight which is tough on the bodyclock. Fatigue could be a concern.

We’re now going over the McLaren/Hamilton penalty hearing. I’m reading yesterday’s quotes on Autosport.com instead.

12:30 Cars are heading to the grid. Pitlane will close in 15 mins.
It seems strange sitting here at ‘normal’ race time, early afternoon and looking at the screen where it is night. I’m used to the reverse, sitting here with it dark outside while looking at Australia or Japan in broad daylight.

Webber and Vettel are taking in the sights of Singapore. Vettel says they are trying everything they can to close the gap on the other teams.
Mark Blundell says Sebastian’s doing a fantastic job.

Steve Rider says they analysed Heidfeld’s block last night and said the penalty was harsh, because of the nature of pitlane entry. I’ll add that there isn’t a proper deceleration lane here and they have to slow down on the racing line impeding anyone behind, it was unavoidable really.

Martin’s Gridwalk
- This will be a very tough race. The humidity is high, the track is bumpy and it’ll be a long race at 1 and 3/4 hours.
- Felipe: “It was a great pole position, it is always great to start a difficult race from pole, we have to do the same over 61 laps.” Martin notes he has a clear visor rather than tinted.
- A rep from ING, Renault sponsor, shouts out “ITV! ITV! How does our logo look at night?” Ha! He says ‘same as it does in the day, looks fine’.
- Bumps into Bernie who shuffles him to the Prime Minister of Singapore. They talk about the weather.
- Ross Brawn who’s just been looking at a Ferrari: “If you go off line into 7 you’re in trouble, there’s only one line. Brake wear could be a problem, we’ll manage but I don’t know about other cars.”
- Quick word with Tamara Ecclestone who doesn’t want to take all this over when Dad retires, then we’re back with Steve and Mark.

Ted is with Glock (P7): “Quite a lot of oil on the last corner turn-in but it should be okay. We are in the right window with brakes so should be okay.”
ITV completely ignoring the local national anthem but then so is everyone else. F1 people don’t care really.

Louise with Rosberg (P8): “It’s gonna be a good race, tough on the car, we have a good chance starting 8th to score some points.”

We are expecting Safety Car appearances. Personally I can’t see how we’ll get through the chicane of turns 1-2-3 without damage of some kind in lap one, and then the jagged bumps at 10-11-12 is sure to take someone out.

During our final pre-race ad break, a reminder of the start order:

MAS, HAM, RAI, KUB, KOV, VET, GLO, ROS, HEI, NAK, TRU, BUT, WEB, COU, ALO, PIQ, BOU, BAR, SUT, FIS (p/l)

Massa is 1 point behind Hamilton going into this race, both are opening a big points gap on the field.

Loading live timing at http://www.formula1.com.

Official Swirly F1 Graphics means 5 minutes to go, we cross to James Allen and Martin Brundle. James – “No sign of a credit crunch here!”
James was told by Pat Symonds of Renault that “..this race could take up to 1hr 50 minutes to complete.”
A reminder then that F1 has a two-hour rule to satisfy international TV windows, if we hit two hours we get the chequered flag regardless of number of laps completed. If there is a Safety Car here we will almost certainly hit the limit.

DC radio. He forgot to put a drinks bottle in! He’ll need that today, so he might suffer later.

The ‘spinners’ on the wheels have been removed to aid brake cooling. Funny, I thought they were to aid brake cooling.

13:00 BST / 20:00 Singapore – Cars are under way for the formation lap.

James – “It looks like everyone is on hard tyres except for Fernando Alonso.”.
He could be going for an early attack with the extra grip from those tyres.

Distance: 61 laps or 2 hours

5..4..3..2..1..GO!

Massa has a clear lead out of T3. Heikki lost places and is fighting Glock.
Everyone gets through the ‘traffic calming’ part undamaged.
Alonso 12th from 15th.

Rosberg is also on soft tyres, ITV haven’t spotted it yet. Radio to Rosberg: “Need to pass Trulli or it’ll be the end of the day.”

Replay of the start. Martin – The front were very well behaved, the back were two and three abreast.
There was a nudge from Kubica on to Heikki, which is how Heikki dropped back.

Massa is running fast, pulling out a gap. This fits the light fuel theory.

Lap 4 – Rosberg goes for Trulli but he’s in too fast, Jarno takes it back.
L5 – Williams are telling Nakajima that he needs to pass Trulli. Rosberg needs to do it first and he tries again… no.

Trulli is always a tough guy to pass which is why he often takes a heavy fuel load, this is known as the Trulli Train. The Trulli Train currently consists of 7 or 8 cars which are falling away from Massa at 5 seconds per lap, and from Heidfeld at 2 seconds per lap. Heidi is the next car up from Trulli.

There’s a piece of brake duct on the track, local yellow out the back somewhere.

L7 – Massa leads by 3.1s over Hamilton, with Raikkonen 5.3s further back and Kubica another 3.4s. Vettel is next, Kovalainen fell to 7th and is still behind Glock, then we have Heidfeld and a gap of 13s back to the Trulli Train.
Cars are now no more than 1sec apart from Trulli in 10th back to Sutil in 19th with Fisichella not far off the back after starting from pitlane.

L8 – We come back from an ad break to find Rosberg and Nakajima have passed Trulli. Rosberg down the inside into T7, bumpy.
Massa has run over some debris which is now wedged under the car.
Alonso passes Trulli into 7. Webber now on his tail.

Trulli has gone for a very long strategy and everyone else seems to be much shorter.

Kimi Raikkonen sets the fastest lap on lap 9, he’s gained 1sec on Hamilton.

Report from Ted: ‘McLaren think they can get Hamilton to run two laps further than Massa so they are keeping the gap stable at 3.3 seconds.’
Meanwhile Kimi is catching, he just set another FL. Martin is expecting Massa to stop on lap 16 or so, Alonso a touch earlier.

James – “Each of these 1800 lights is 2000 watts run from standalone generators not connected to the power grid.”
I’m sure the locals appreciate not having this added to their monthly bill.

L12 – Alonso pits. Very early and he’s fuelled for a long middle stint. Martin doesn’t think it worked because he was stuck behind Trulli.
Ted at Renault – “the super-soft tyres grained heavily, they’ve switched him from a 3-stop to a 2-stop strategy.” Martin says if they are graining that heavily it’s a good thing they’ve got them out of the way now.

Bourdais goes up the escape road and loses two places. James tells us he’s the only man in the field with single-seater experience at night after winning twice at Houston, although he seems to think Houston was in the IndyCar Series.

BIG CRASH – Nelson Piquet hard in the wall. Webber and DC pitted.

SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED

Webber and DC pitted before the SC came out. Barrichello is in as well, not sure if he made it before the SC. If you can get into the pits before the SC comes out, you won’t get a penalty.

Piquet is out of the car and runs across the track. Replays show he hit the wall on his right and it bounced him around to the left wall at speed.

Rosberg pits and will get a penalty as the pitlane is still closed. James tells us Lewis Hamilton needs to pit, will the pitlane open before he gets there? We don’t know because ITV take the chance to take an ad break, so I watch live timing..

According to timing Barrichello has lost a lap and is stopped in sector 2.

L16 – Kubica has pitted, everyone else continues. I believe the SC came out on lap 15.

L16 (still) – We’re back from adverts and we can see Rubens helping marshals to push his car out of the way. We don’t know why he’s out.

As this is such a long track the SC laps are taking about three minutes each.

L17 – Pitlane is open. Martin says some of the cars can switch to just 4 cylinders and save fuel that way.
Everyone pits who hasn’t already. OH! Massa! The fuel hose is still attached as he leaves!! He’s drive down pitlane with the hose still attached, knocks a man over as he pulls away, he stops at the end of the pitlane to wait for his guys to run down and remove it.
Ted says it is a 500 metre sprint while the McLaren guys cheer them on as they run past!
They’ve arrived and the hose is stuck, they can’t get it out of the car. Finally they get it out of the car and Massa is on his way in last place.

Replay: He did get the green light from Ferrari’s traffic light system, and they weren’t even trying to release the fuel hose when he went. Not again! Sutil JUST avoided Massa. Not again! Huge Valencia deja vu.

L18 – Bourdais pits.
Massa will move up after the ‘pits closed’ penalties are applied, but ITV speculate that Massa will have a penalty for unsafe release from pits. He currently runs last, behind Bourdais, and was lucky not to lose a lap.

Rosberg leads with a penalty to follow. Trulli and Fisichella have not yet stopped and run 2nd and 3rd. Kubica is 4th and will have a penalty. Alonso appears to be the leader after penalties and stops.

SC IN THIS LAP

L19 – RESTART

Vettel loses some ground running wide.

Raikkonen lost time while Ferrari were sorting out Massa, Kimi runs 16th. Kovalainen dropped to 14th.

James – “This race is now anybody’s.”

L20 – Massa ran wide at the last corner. Nobody is stopping for penalties yet, they will lose 30 seconds (including 10 sec stationary) so are pushing hard to pick up some ground. They haven’t been officially notified yet. When they are notified they have 3 laps to come in or they will be disqualified.

Fisichella in 3rd is holding everybody up, allowing Rosberg to make up a big gap.

Louise with a Ferrari rep: “Most important thing is the guy is okay, he is in the medical centre. I cannot tell you anything that happened I’m sorry, I haven’t seen the replay, I have been taking car of the injured guy.”

Rubens throws his gloves into the water instead of the crowd!

Louise with Nelson: “Basically I lost the back end. The car was really heavy, it was touching the floor. I was trying to push, I touched the rear on the wall.”

Massa penalty – ‘unsafe release from pit stop’. He has passed Bourdais but nobody else. He takes it immediately. This was a drive-through penalty.

L25 – Rosberg – 10 second stop/go for refuelling when pitlane closed.
Kubica – ditto. These guys must pit and stop for 10 seconds at their own garage.

L27 – We’ve taken an ad break and come back, Kubica and Rosberg have not taken their penalties yet. Alonso radio: “We’ve no idea what’s happening, push like hell to the end of the race.”

L28 – Kubica is in for his penalty and emerges last. We see that Massa has caught Bourdais again.
Webber has run wide and loses several places, maybe 5 or 6 places.
L29 – Rosberg pits for his penalty. He needs to beat Alonso…. he does not, he gets out ahead of Coulthard who is 5th.

Trulli, Fisi, Alonso, Rosberg, DC. The first two need fuel soon.

These pitlane closure rules officially suck. I don’t mind closing the pits, but you’ve got to at least let them get half a second of fuel without penalty if they are running out and need to pit.

Ted: It wasn’t Mark Webber’s fault, it was mechanical, he’s on his way back to the garage, they are going to pit him and retire.

L30 – Fisichella pits and fits the softer tyre.
L31 – Renault tell Alonso that Trulli will stop in 4 laps time. Alonso was FAST in qualifying until mechanical failure.
Kubica passes Massa! Ted says Massa is out of fuel, and indeed he pits. He’s fuelled to the end from the reserve rig and he has the soft tyres. This is an unplanned stop.

L33 – Looking at timing and everyone is slow, over 3 seconds slower than Kimi’s fastest lap from earlier. A couple of guys up front are slightly faster.
L34 – Trulli pits for his only stop of the day. He’s out alongside Nakajima and takes the place, which is… 9th.

Bourdais and Kubica are also in.

Fisichella has somehow dropped to 16th, he shouldn’t be there after being 3rd not long ago…

Massa passes Bourdais for 14th.

L35 – Kovalainen pits. Martin has been looking at Rosberg’s penalty, he’d been wondering how he emerged only losing a few places. Turns out the gap to 4th was 23 seconds because Fisi had been holding everyone up, so it was legitimate.

L36 – Hamilton is working his way up, he’s 4th now and looking good for points against Ferrari who are currently set for zero.

L37 – Alonso, Rosberg, DC, Hamilton, Glock, Vettel, Heidfeld, Trulli. Kimi 10th, Kovi 13th, Massa 16th.
Hamilton is close behind Coulthard, who is 11sec behind Rosberg, then 7sec up to leader Alonso.
L38 – Nakajima passes Trulli, Kimi tries to follow but runs out of room.
L39 – Kimi now takes Trulli, who is again fat with fuel. Kimi is now 9th and goes looking for Nakajima who has driven away.

L40 – Things have been fairly flat for a while, other than Kimi making up places. Alonso has an increasing lead. Rosberg pits, switches to the super-soft tyres and is out behind Heidfeld in 7th.

For once we don’t know how long it will be before anybody stops. Everyone came in under that yellow meaning we could only follow a few people – and the F1 teams aren’t as forthcoming as the IndyCar teams.

L42 – Alonso pits, he has a big lead and does not lose the lead as he emerges from the pits JUST ahead of DC and Hamilton.
Hamilton passes Coulthard! He’s now on Alonso’s tail but he does need to stop again, he pits now and so does Coulthard.
Coulthard went too soon but stops it, he’s away after a minor delay but he lost position to Trulli.

L44 – Vettel and Heidfeld pit now from 3rd and 4th. I don’t see where they come out, we’re in adverts.

L45 – Alonso, Glock, Rosberg, Kimi, Hamilton, Trulli, Vettel, Heidfeld, DC, Nakajima. Heikki is 12th, Massa is 15th.
Glock needs to stop, I think Kimi does as well.

L46 – Massa overshoots turn one. Kubica just passed Fisi and Massa was trying to do the same. Massa and Kubica seem to have lost all speed since their penalties.
Glock pits, TV director misses where he rejoins.
This moves Rosberg up to 2nd with a gap of 15.5 seconds behind Alonso.

We miss Coulthard’s radio while Ted reports on something. James said he is complaining of losing his brakes.

L49 – James is worried that we won’t get all the laps in, there is about 25 minutes of running to complete the race and we are just short of 25 minutes remaining. “This is like the old days when the races used to take half the day!”
Martin – “Good though isn’t it!”

L50 – Alonso, Rosberg, Kimi, Hamilton, Glock, Trulli, Vettel, Heidfeld. Kimi needs to stop.
Trulli is slow at a chicane, he gets running again.
L51 – Kimi stops, he’s out in a large gap between Glock and Vettel.
Trulli seems to be in trouble.

Oh no! Kimi spins, a Force India is in the barrier. Looks like liquid on the track.
L51 – SAFETY CAR
Trulli has pitted to retire from the GP, Ted tells us a gearbox problem.

L52 – Massa it was that spun, he was watching Trulli who was slow on the inside. The water came from the barrier, it was there to absorb the impact. The Force India slides sideways into the barrier.

Trulli is out of the car and soaked in sweat.

L53 – Louise with Mark Webber – “We lost 7th and then 5th gears, it cost us a great result. Would have been nice to share the podium with Alonso. We had some good pace, I’ve never suffered gearbox problems with this car.”

Order: Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Glock, Kimi, Vettel, Heidfeld, Coulthard, Nakajima, Button, Kova, Kub, Fisi, Massa, Bourdais
The crashed Force India was Sutil.

L54 – RESTART

Alonso drives away, no position changes on the restart.
Rosberg has good traction, he’s fine.
Coulthard vs Nakajima, DC stays ahead.

L56 – Alonso is on it, he’s running 1m45s while everyone else is back in the 1m47s or worse. Hamilton is faster than Rosberg but can’t catch him on the long run to turn 7, the favoured overtaking spot so far.

Martin – “Glock is keeping Hamilton honest, he’s improved all through the season.”
James reminds us he raced against Hamilton in GP2 in 2006.

L57 – Alonso has dropped his pace to match the others.
Ted – This won’t go to a timed race.

Five laps to go. 10 minutes to go, James says he didn’t allow for the parade lap before the race, the time starts when the red lights go out.

Raikkonen in the wall!! He caught the kerbs everyone has been complaining about. He manages to drag it around the corner to safety, no Safety Car required.
Replays: he hit the second kerb and ran into the wall. Four points down the drain.

Not Ferrari’s day today.

Martin – Lewis Hamilton looks like a man very happy with the lowest stop on the pdoium today, he’s not hustling the car.

Three laps to go.

Martin – Raikkonen’s accident is classic street circuit stuff, you take your eye off the ball and you’re off.

There’s a close battle between Vettel and Heidfeld, the TV director is choosing to focus on Alonso.

Final lap.

ALONSO WINS!

Rosberg 2nd, Hamilton 3rd, Glock 4th, Vettel 5th, Heidfeld 6th, Coulthard 7th, Nakajima 8th. Massa comes in 13th, only one from last.

Flavio Briatore on the radio! Alonso contratulates the team.

Martin says Nico Rosberg is his Driver of the Day after overcoming a stop/go penalty to finish 2nd. Ironically Alonso’s strategy only worked because of his teammate’s accident.

The cars are back in pitlane, Alonso stands on his car!
Everyone’s rear tyres look very worn.
Kimi doesn’t look happy – applause to the top three drivers from the grid girls!
Alonso relaxes in a chair with a bottle of water, take a break Fernando. A brief handshake with Hamilton.. surprised at that after last year..

Flav speaks to Alonso in Italian.

Podium ceremony, Spanish and French anthems, trophies, champagne!
Great trophy.

Martin: A great success but I hope they don’t make them all night races in this part of the world, it’ll lose the novelty.

We cross back to Steve and Mark as the champagne is dropped from the podium to the mechanics, the Renault guy drops theirs!

Press Conference
Alonso: “Fantastic, 1st podium for the season and first victory, extremely happy. Unlucky in qualifying and lucky in the race. The start was good, not good enough, but the pace was there. The car was super today.”
Interesting that he has the UNICEF logo on his race suit.

Rosberg: “I had a difficult start on the dirty side, dropped behind Jarno who was heavy with fuel. It was quite a hairy moment [passing Trulli], very bumpy. After that it was qualifying laps all the way. Car felt good, it was strong on this track, it was a great feeling.”

Hamilton: “My pitstop went well, I had to wait for some cars to come past and lost a little bit of time, we had great pace generally but got stuck behind DC. It was difficult to get close because he drove a fantastic race, so did these guys here.”


Race Result

01. Alonso 61 laps [10 pts]
02. Rosberg +2.9s [8]
03. Hamilton +5.9s [6]
04. Glock +8.1s [5]
05. Vettel +10.2s [4]
06. Heidfeld +11.1s [3]
07. Coulthard +16.3s [2]
08. Nakajima +18.4s [1]
09. Button +19.8s
10. Kovalainen +26.9s
11. Kubica +27.9s
12. Bourdais +29.4s
13. Massa +35.1s
14. Fisichella +43.5s
15. Raikkonen + 4 laps

DNFs
Trulli + 11 laps
Sutil + 12 laps
Webber + 32 laps
Barrichello + 47 laps
Piquet + 48 laps

Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen 1 minute 45.599 seconds

Kimi was officially classified as a finisher by completing more than 90% of the distance.
Vettel collects yet another points haul! Great for him, and also excellent to see Rosberg and Williams on the podium. Glock also had a good result and it is nice to see DC scoring again. In all a great race for the underdogs!

Driver Points
01. 84 Hamilton
02. 77 Massa
03. 64 Kubica
04. 57 Raikkonen
05. 56 Heidfeld
06. 51 Kovalainen
07. 38 Alonso
08. 27 Vettel
09. 26 Trulli
10. 20 Glock
10. 20 Webber
12. 17 Rosberg
etc.

Hamilton extends his lead by 6 points as the three drivers behind him fail to score. Heidfeld is looking to pass Raikkonen for the 4th position.

Constructor Points
01. McLaren 135
02. Ferrari 134
03. BMW-Sauber 120
04. Renault 51
05. Toyota 46
06. STR 31
07. RBR 28
08. Williams 26
09. Honda 14

McLaren regain the lead in the table by one point from Ferrari, this one is going to the wire. BMW are still lurking should the top two make any further mistakes although they didn’t have a great day themselves.

Next Race
Next up is the Japanese Grand Prix from Fuji on October 12th. No luxury of an afternoon race for us this time, we’re looking at 5am here in the UK.
One week later is China, followed two weeks later by the season finale in Brazil.
Look out for my race previews on the Thursday or Friday of each race weekend.

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4 Comments

Filed under F1, Race Review

4 responses to “Race Notes: 2008 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix

  1. meeshbeer

    You should not worry about your race notes my friend. They are brill! So detailed!

  2. Too Much Racing

    Heh, thanks! I was helped this time by the length of the laps, it gave me some breathing space.I wonder if I’ll be so coherent for the two early morning races? I guess those will be at midnight for you!

  3. pressdog

    Nice job, note homey. How come the Euro feed has pit reporters who actually talk to drivers after they roll it and all we Yanks get is the disembodied voice of Pete Windsor talking about Flavio or types of brakes being used during the race? No driver interviews except the “unilateral” stuff after. BOGUS.

  4. Too Much Racing

    Thanks – I’m honoured that you two blogging heavy-hitters have visited my humble little place!I started writing this blog when I saw your notes and thought ‘hang on, I’ve never seen anyone write this for our coverage’.I hope it provides a different angle.The difference is our guys are all on-site, even the anchor is standing in the paddock, the commentators are usually above the stands opposite the pits.Ted is the strategy guy who camps at Ferrari or McLaren, while Louise tracks down the drivers who binned it.The line-up will change next year when it switches networks, Coulthard will be our analyst!I guess it is easier for our guys to attend since most races are in Europe, and F1 is covered on a major network so they can fund it.

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