This time it was Singapore that felt the wrath of Vettel as he led from start to finish, to make it a hat-trick of race victories, the German needing only a point at Japan in two weeks time to win his second straight world championship. It is a statement of intent from Vettel, as he seeks to become a real legend of the sport. Many feel that he isn’t a ‘worthy’ champion, and would like to see him do good in a McLaren or Ferrari. He is fortunate to be in the best car, yet he still sets record after record, he’s doing the best he can do! Another world championship will go some way to answering those critics of his that are still left.
Second-placed man Jenson Button kept within 10-15 seconds of Vettel for the entire race, but was unable to show any really competetivness for the victory until 10 or so laps from the end, he ran Vettel all the way as he finished just 1.7 seconds off the winner. It’s a shame that Button couldn’t keep up with him, as the last laps were the only ones to provide a glimmer of hope that someone other than Vettel would be the victor. Button’s 4th consecutive podium helped re-affirm his status as McLaren’s number 1 driver, following Hamilton’s recent downturn in fortunes. Fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber came in 3rd place.
The calender’s only night race brought a frustrating start for neutrals and Lewis Hamilton. Neutrals as Vettel yet again drove away cleanly and without any challenge, and Hamilton, for he lost 4 positions, dropping back to 8th. The placement of the DRS zone, quickly gave Hamilton the oppurtunity to make up for his mistake. However, a failed attempt at trying to pass the Ferarri of Felipe Massa, meant that Massa got a puncture, Hamilton a damaged front wing and a drive-through to match. The rest of the race was spent with him trying to get back into the points, several times having to re-pass the Force India’s of Sutil and Di Resta and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. A safety car helped his case, and Hamilton rescued 5th place, from what was a weeked to forget for the ex-champion.
Another ex-champion, Micheal Schumacher, was the reason why the safety car was needed, slamming his car into the back of Sergio Perez, into the air and straight into the barriers, narrowly missing teammate Rosberg in the process. It was disappointing from Schumacher, considering his recent ‘mini-revival’, this was a setback, but hopefully the seven-time champ, can come back and return to form at Suzuka, one of his old stomping grounds.
This safety car, however, didn’t help Button’s case, as lapped case blocked the path between himself and Vettel, as straight from the restart Vettel’s lead was 8 seconds, once again putting a dampner on the race. However, from the restart, a lacklustre Fernando Alonso was caught napping by Webber in the Red Bull, and passed for 3rd place. Alonso never looked comfortably in the Ferarri as they never matched the race pace of the McLaren’s, never mind the Red Bull’s! Although he did hold off the advancing Hamilton when he had to, to hold onto 4th place.
Other talking points surrounding the race, was the strong points return from the Force India’s of Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta. Di Resta, in particular, impressed in his highest ever Grand Prix placing, a strong 6th place reward for a smart strategy. Sutil, too, held off the advances of Massa, Perez and the two Williams to take 8th place. Another surprise was the poor showing of the Renault’s, Senna and Petrov, finishing 15th and 17th, in a strange weekend for the team. Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen splitting the two, which shows how far the team have come, being by far, the best of the ‘new’ teams. Virgin and HRT must step it up soon, or they could soon become the complete laughing stocks of the sport.
So then, as the next champion is set to be crowned at Suzuka in two weeks time, the question is this: will Sebastian Vettel become the next living legend of Formula One?