Race Notes: Singpore Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix
Date: 27 September 2009
Circuit: Marina Bay Street Circuit
Location: Marina Bay, Singpore
(PitlaneFanatic) (GoogleCircuits)
Distance: 61 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One with BBC Radio 5 Live audio
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)
Interviewers: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

R5 commentary: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 interviewer: Holly Samos

Coverage begins at 12.10pm.

DVR Notes

Jake – “Lights out in Formula One usually signifies the start of a race, tonight in Singapore it its lights on.”

Quick recap:
Four races to go including this one.
Button leads Rubens by 14, less than 30 pts cover the top four.
Brawn have a healthy lead over Red Bull.

DC says he didn’t appreciate the spectacle of a night street race last year, he was too busy working and preparing for driving. This year he’s been able to take it all in.

Recap of Singapore 2008’s Renault/Piquet race-fixing. Are we bored of this yet? I know I am, so let’s skip this bit other than to say title sponsor ING and associate sponsor Mutua Madrilena this week pulled out of supporting the team, I believe they might be still be a personal sponsor of Alonso but I’m not entirely sure.

EJ and DC are asked if it reminds them of any past incidents. They bring up Senna vs Prost at Suzuka in 1990 when Senna just drove Prost into the gravel at turn one to seal the championship. We get a replay – Murray Walker! More of this next week when we visit Japan, no doubt.

Jordan says we need to restore confidence in the integrity of F1. Agreed!

Qualifying
– Grosjean complained of brake issues. Knocked out in Q2.
– Fisichella yet to adapt to the Ferrari. “Not easy, nice to have one complete day of testing to feel better with the setup”. Meanwhile Raikkonen could only manage 13th.
– Button struggled with handling, he was out in Q2.
– Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg were setting fast times until Barrichello hit the wall and ended the session. Rubens was 5th but will start 9th – firstly he had a 5-place penalty to 10th for an unscheduled gearbox change after worries about the unit at the last two races, but then Nick Heidfeld was found to be under-weight and was sent to the back of the grid.
– Hamilton’s time secured pole, with Vettel 2nd and Rosberg 3rd.

Grid:
Hamilton, Vettel
Rosberg, Webber
Alonso, Glock
Kubica, Kovalainen
Barrichello, Nakajima
Button, Raikkonen
Buemi, Trulli
Sutil, Alguersuari
Fisichella, Grosjean
Liuzzi
Pitlane start: Heidfeld

After Heidfeld was sent to 20th position for being underweight in qualifying, BMW elected to change his engine and gearbox and start him on full tanks from the pitlane.

To a recording bit with Hamilton earlier on race day. It is hot and humid in Singapore so he’s having to keep hydrated often. Says Singapore has great fan support (presumably for he and the team), second only to the British GP. He says his hotel blacked out his windows because the F1 personnel are staying on European time, so they are sleeping in the day, getting up at 2pm and going to bed at 6am.

Live with Ross Brawn:
“Fairly disappointing qualifying. Fine on Saturday morning, even Q1 we weren’t too bad. Out in Q2 with Jenson and it all started to fall apart. Heidfeld’s penalty puts us on the good side of the grid, small mercies. Difficult track, got to bide our time and hope opportunities come. Scoring some points would be a great result.”

Jake says this place is lit by 3 million watts of power. 500 million people are gearing up to watch this race.

DC saying “you really don’t want to get off-line, the dust sucks you into the wall, you saw what happened to Rubens yesterday.”

We’re hoping it won’t rain, as is possible. It is a long race anyway and who knows how it would affect the visibility, with glare from the lights reflecting on the track. This happened in Qatar last year for the MotoGP night race which had to be postponed a day.

Gridwalk with Martin Brundle.
– Lightning in the sky but the rainstorm is not heading for the race track.
– Rubens, P9: “Everything is okay. It looked bigger than it was [the crash yesterday], from here I need to move forward. Clean side of the track does make a difference, for the support race just standing on the pitwall you could see a lot of dust.”
– Brundle says to John Button while walking by.. “here I’ve got a present for Jenson, a glow stick, and make sure he eats his carrots!”
– Very quick line from the PM of Singapore, he tips Hamilton for the win.
– Martin says this will be a race all about saving the rear tyres. Trying to find “Teflonso” – ha!
– Rosberg, P3: “Looking forward to a strong race, I have more fuel than Sebastian and I’m on the better side of the grid. (Hamilton) looked strong in qualifying, will be difficult to beat him and he has KERS.”
– Vettel, P2: “Its a long race, 61 laps is a long way to go. First of all survive the first corner, first lap. Who knows what happens.”
We lost the gridwalk camera feed so he throws back to Jake in the pits.

Singapore National Anthem
Fact: Singapore has been an independent nation since 1965.
Unfortunately their anthem sounds like a lot of other anthems, or Eurovision Song Contest entries.

Shots of Ari Vataen and Jean Todt quickly shaking hands on the grid. Not a staged thing, looks like Todt and his entourage were walking through and Ari, alone, fights his way through to get a handshake..

Track Guide.. new pit entry and exit. The turns have been extended out into the runoff area and are tighter than last year, to create space for the pit access.
New kerbs at the turn 10 chicane.. last year we had saw-tooth affairs which were not good, this year we have kerbs similar to the new ones at Monza the other week. Chicane is a bit tighter than before, drivers not happy though. Turn 17 now known in F1 as Piquet’s Corner!

Ted Kravitz says Vettel has only 42kg of fuel on board, compared to 51kg for Hamilton. Lewis is quickest and heaviest of the frontrunners. Lots of stoppers between lap 17-21, Button is fuelled heavily to lap 28.

Mario Theissen! We like Mario. He looks like Ned Flanders. Talking about Heidfeld’s penalty:
“It was a mistake, we found out a ballast weight was not correctly placed. We indicated it to the FIA and the penalty was to go to the back of the grid. If it was intentional we would not have indicated it!”
Speaking of which we get Heidfeld team radio, which the BBC completely ignore in order to hear David Coulthard speak about tyre management. Both EJ and DC tip Hamilton for the win.

Grid reminder:
Hamilton, Vettel
Rosberg, Webber
Alonso, Glock
Kubica, Kovalainen
Barrichello, Nakajima
Button, Raikkonen
Buemi, Trulli
Sutil, Alguersuari
Fisichella, Grosjean
Liuzzi
Pitlane start: Heidfeld

Live Notes

Engines firing.

1:00pm UK time – Formation Lap

Grid

1.2.3.4.5..Go!!

L1 Hamilton clear in the lead. Everyone through turn one. Rosberg 2nd.

Alonso pushing Webber. Goes wide. Webber and Glock clear Alonso.

L2 Cars stringing out already.

Replays:
Vettel had a lot of wheelspin on the dust. Slow away.
Webber ignored the kerb to pass Alonso on the wrong side of it – could get penalised.

L4 Grosjean pits and enters the garage.

L5 Hamilton radio “Possible KERS issue”. He’s told to disable the KERS.

L7 Webber told let Alonso through, for passing wrong side of kerbs.. He also let Glock through.

L8 Not sure why Crofty thinks it was Red Bull’s decision. He said it was “ultra-conservative” from them. Surely it was an order from Whiting…

On the replay Webber looks to take a good line through the corner, that kerbing is in a really strange place. If they moved it back that corner could make a good passing place!

L10 Radio calls.. Sutil told to manage the engine due to overheating stuck behind Alguersuari, then Fisichella is told about Sutil’s message and to pass him!

L12 Buemi runs wide on to the dust, Raikkonen passes him.

L14 Liuzzi goes for Fisichella, they are side by side… yellow flag! Liuzzi has to back out. I’m unable to see the reason for the flag at that corner.

OK we see it now – debris from Glock’s Toyota (slowmo replay shows it falling off). In the wrong place as well, on the exit of the only decent passing place on the circuit! Always the way.

Order: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Glock, Alonso, Webber, Barrichello, Kubica, Kovalainen, Button, Nakajima, Raikkonen, Buemi, Alguersuari, Sutil, Fisichella, Liuzzi, Trulli, Heidfeld.

L18 A brave (stupid?) marshal runs to collect the debris under double-waved yellows* – as Vettel pits to emerge in 7th behind Barrichello. I’m not sure you could pay me to do that – and these guys aren’t paid.
* single waved yellow warns the driver of danger, double flags mean slow down and be prepared to stop.

L19 Rosberg pits, he’s out ahead of Rubens but crosses the pit exit line early. Rubens passes him on the next corner. Penalty coming for Nico. Webber also pitted.

L20 Glock is in, so is Barrichello. Glock out behind Nakajima. Barrichello is just ahead of Raikkonen now.

L21 Hamilton pits – he beats Alonso who has yet to stop.
Drive-through penalty for Rosberg for crossing pit exit line. Replays showed him fully on the race track before he darts back across the blend line to pit exit side.

SAFETY CAR

Sutil tries to pass Alguersuari and spins – as he tries to recover he t-bones Heidfeld and knocks Nick around. Adrian tried to continue the spin to turn it into a 360 but forgot to look for traffic. His fault, no question.
New front wing for Sutil. Heidfeld is out on the spot with broken suspension, he manages to clear his car to the escape road. This ends Heidfeld’s record run of races without retirement, he got up to something like 42 consecutive races! That’s more than two seasons!

L22 Lots more pitting. Button, Kovalainen, Alonso, Nakajima, more.
Alguersuari departs with his fuel hose attached! Stops but not before the equipment his fuel man is pulled down. He went before the stop board was lifted!

L23 New Order:
Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Glock, Alonso, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Button, Webber, Kubica, Nakajima, Raikkonen, Buemi, Trulli, Fisichella, Liuzzi, Alguersuari, Sutil.

Rosberg still needs to take is drive-through penalty. This SC has worked wonders for the one-stoppers who have come in now, but not helped the two-stoppers who have lost their track advantage. I have completely lost track of who that is. Who needs to come in again and who doesn’t? I should keep notes or something.

L24 Team radio : Rosberg will follow SC in to take his penalty.
Sutil pits under the SC, goes into the garage.

L25 GREEN FLAG – Rosberg did not take his penalty.

L27 No change in the order. A couple of little looks on the restart.
Race Control: Incident involving cars 6 and 20 to be investigated after the race. Sutil and Heidfeld.

L28 Rosberg takes his penalty and he’s now behind Trulli in 14th.

L31 Through half distance. If we get another Safety Car we’ll hit the 2hr limit.

L34 On 5Live, Sutil blames Heidfeld for driving over his front wing, unbelievable!

L35 Rosberg pits for tyres and fuel. He’s quite a way back now, out of contention. Shame.

L38 There’s not a great deal going on, though now Hamilton and Vettel are trading fast laps and are only half a second apart.

Replay: Vettel’s right wing mirror (and associated aero devices) have come off.

L39 Rosberg passes Alguersuari. Jamie just pulls over and lets him go.

L40 Vettel pits from Hamilton’s tail, and he’s back out behind Jenson Button for 7th.

22 laps to go. This isn’t a great race, but not the MOST boring I’ve ever seen. Try watching Valencia, Magny-Cours, Imola-with-chicanes and the before-they-fixed-it Hungaroring.

L41 Buemi pits twice in two laps, his fuel rig broke down and they had to use the backup.
Vettel – speeding in the pitlane!
Replay – he’s broken his rear diffuser on a kerb.

L44 Vettel takes his drive-through for pitlane speeding.

L45 Webber pits, lots of black dust from the brakes. He rejoins 14th behind Fisichella and Liuzzi.

L46 Glock pits from 2nd. He’s now behind Kovalainen in 6th. Button is catching this group.
Webber spins at turn 1! He’s backwards in the tyre barrier.

Hamilton take the opportunity to stop, in case of SC.

Brake failure for Webber – we saw it coming with that dust earlier.

Also pitting: Barrichello, Kovalainen, Nakajima, Fisichella, Liuzzi.

No Safety Car, track has been cleared. Alonso leads.

L48 Both Toro Rossos are pulled in retire – worried about brakes too? Seems so.

L50 Alonso pits from the lead. Hamilton now leads. Fernando is now 4th.

L52 Button pits from 2nd. Does he beat Barrichello? Yes! He is 5th after starting 11th.

L53 Raikkonen pits from 7th, he’s out in 10th, bad day for Ferrari.

9 laps to go. Top ten: Hamilton, Glock, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Kubica, Nakajima, Raikkonen.

Vettel has brake problems – sister car crashed, sister team withdrawn setting fastest laps. He’s 6.3sec behind Glock. Glock is only 7.7sec behind Hamilton, a good race from Timo.

Heidfeld with 5Live: “Sutil started moving without switching his brain on. 42 races without stopping, pity it came to an end.”

L56 Clouds of black brake dust from Button’s car.

L58 Ross Brawn on the radio to Button, he’s told to back off and bring it home. Rubens then told about Button’s issues… “Can I catch him??” “Um, no, you’re 10 seconds down at the same speed.”
Actually he is over a 1sec lap faster, but he’s almost certainly going to have the same problem if he pushes and with 3 laps left there’s no point risking it to close a 10 second gap.

L59 The only battle remaining is Kubica-Nakajima-Raikkonen for 8th position and the final point.

Last Lap

Lewis Hamilton wins!
Glock 2nd, good run
Alonso 3rd
Vettel, Button, Barrichello Kovalainen and Kubica round out the points.
Nakajima somehow holds off Raikkonen in what is possibly the first time in a while I’ve seen him not simply wave the other guy past him..

Long cooldown lap.
Parc Ferme. Lewis happy!
Podium
Anthem
Trophies
Champagne

Lots of post-race rambling from the trio in the paddock. Now the drivers:

Button with Lee: “I wish I’d done those laps in qualifying. Good race, I got stuck behind Heikki but got past him when he pitted. Happy to get Nakajima off the line, that was key for me.”
McKenzie throws him a curveball by asking him about the second safety car – there was only one, Lee! Jenson says he doesn’t remember the second one.. he’s very positive for Japan.

BBC main coverage is out of here double-quick time in order to show a rerun of Eastenders. Really? I mean.. really??? Come on.. No press conference. BUT we can hit the (free) red button service to catch more interviews, that’s where we find the conference. (UK TV has gone for interactive extra channels instead of a lot of HD, for now)

Conference with Peter Windsor:

Hamilton: “Very tough race. Race was pretty straightforward, managed to get a big enough gap. I knew I was 5 laps longer than [Vettel], all I had to do was keep him behind. Big thank you to the team and my family.”
Windsor: “You had trouble with the KERS button early in the race.”
Hamilton: “I had no problem in the car but the team said we had a fault, I had to disable it and re-engage it and it worked fine after that. Had pressure from Nico in the beginning. There’s corner after corner, there’s no real break here. The fans here are amazing.”

Glock: “Really good race for me, the start was a bit messy but then then a good first stint. Before I came here I knew the driver can make a difference here. I lost the view of where the other guys are, my team did not say to me where I am, suddenly they said you are safe for P2 and I was really surprised!”

Alonso (collar unbuttoned in order to not show ING sponsorship!): “Result is great for us, first podium of the season. First lap was a little bit stressful side by side with Mark, then Timo took the benefit in turn 8, so the battle with Mark I lost a position to Timo and we finished right behind him but no complaints, fantastic for us, we had the pace all weekend.”

This coverage on the interactive channel continues for another hour, it is called the BBC F1 Forum and there is a lot more chat, interviews, F1 personalities come and pay a visit, all good stuff and far too long to note down here!! Interestingly in this one, Martin Whitmarsh may just have let slip that Kimi is coming in to replace Heikki simply by being terrible at denying a rumour put to him..giggling away like a schoolkid.. All good fun.

Race Result

Driver Gap Pts
1 Hamilton 61 laps 10
2 Glock 9.6sec 8
3 Alonso 16.6sec 6
4 Vettel 20.2sec 5
5 Button 30.0sec 4
6 Barrichello 31.8sec 3
7 Kovalainen 36.1sec 2
8 Kubica 55.0sec 1
9 Nakajima 56.0sec
10 Räikkönen 58.8sec
11 Rosberg 59.7sec
12 Trulli 73.0sec
13 Fisichella 79.0sec
14 Liuzzi 93.5sec
DNF Alguersuari Brakes
DNF Buemi Gearbox
DNF Webber Brakes
DNF Sutil Damage
DNF Heidfeld Accident
DNF Grosjean Brakes

Drivers’ Championship

Driver Prev SIN Total
1 Button 80 4 84
2 Barrichello 66 3 69
3 Vettel 54 5 59
4 Webber 51.5 51.5
5 Räikkönen 40 40
6 Hamilton 27 10 37
7 Rosberg 30.5 30.5
8 Alonso 20 6 26
9 Glock 16 8 24
10 Trulli 22.5 22.5
11 Massa 22 22
12 Kovalainen 20 2 22
13 Heidfeld 12 12
14 Kubica 8 1 9
15 Fisichella 8 8
16 Sutil 5 5
17 Buemi 3 3
18 Bourdais 2 2

Vettel keeps pace with the Brawn drivers but realistically this is now a fight between the two teammates – Seb needs to be out-scoring these two by some margin and he isn’t doing so. Equally, Rubens is 15 points behind Jenson now so has a lot of work to do. If Jenson scores 5pts more than Rubens in Japan he is Champion.

In the meantime, Hamilton manages to get a good score on the board while Raikkonen gets a big fat zero – the opposite to Monza – and so closes the gap once more, taking Rosberg’s position as he does so. Alonso and Glock take higher positions in the midfield bunfight.

Constructors’ Championship

Constructor Prev SIN Total
1 Brawn 146 7 153
2 Red Bull 105.5 5 110.5
3 Ferrari 62 62
4 McLaren 47 12 59
5 Toyota 38.5 8 46.5
6 Williams 30.5 30.5
7 Renault 20 6 26
8 BMW 20 1 21
9 Force India 13 13
10 Toro Rosso 5 5

Brawn have got this one pretty much sewn up now, with only three races remaining it is a tall order for Red Bull to catch up. There are 18 points available at each race if a team places first and second, that’s 54 points over the next 3 races with a gap of 42.5 between the top two.

The action is in the midfield where Ferrari and McLaren are after 3rd but seemingly not able to take big scores in the same race as their rival, and there’s a big fight for 6th where Renault may have started a late surge.

Next Event

The next race is the FujiTV Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka this weekend! An early start for this one, BBC TV should kick off at about 5am UK time with the race start at 6am. That’s 1am US Eastern, assuming they carry it live. I’ll be live-tweeting and live-commenting the race as usual, with blog notes appearing later in the week. In the meantime my Weekend Preview ought to be up on Friday. See you over the weekend!

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