Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel grip on the 2013 title grew tighter after a performance that even his harshest critics would have to stand and applaid.
The reigning World Champion now leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who finished second, by 60 points with only 150 still on the table. It’s looking ominous that it’ll be title number 4 for the German wunderkid, and may be sown up as early as Japan.
Alonso’s future Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen worked his way up the grid from thirteenth to third, despite a trapped nerve in his back, with Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton scrapping over 4th and 5th places.
Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber also cruised to the finish in a different manner entirely – the Red Bull’s Renault engine giving up the ghost on the final lap, eventually being classified 15th, despite challenging for the final podium position in the final few laps.
The Australian was given a lift back to the pits on Alonso’s Ferrari, the Spaniard returning the favour from Germany 2011.
Felipe Massa finished 6th, ahead of McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Adrian Sutil.
The end of the race was by far the most exciting of the two-hour marathon viewing. Daniel Ricciardo hit the barriers on lap 25 which led to a Safety Car period, forcing the teams to gamble on whether to stop or not. The racing then boiled down to who had not stopped and managed their tyres, and those who had and were on fresher rubber.
Despite all the action behind him, Seb was in a class of his own. His cruised over the line to take his 33rd career victory by nearly 33 seconds – a margin that gave him a pitstop in his pocket that he never needed to cash in.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the champ. Starting from pole position, it looked like he might lose a place at the start to compatriot and fellow front row started Nico Rosberg.
The Mercedes got better traction and was ahead going into Turn 1, despite Vettel leaning on him down the pit straight, but Rosberg overcooked his brakes going into Turn 2 and Vettel was able to sneak back ahead.
Fernando Alonso kept up his reputation for being a hard charger on the opening lap – the Ferrari launched from 7th to 3rd by the end of the first complex of corners, benifitting from driving around the outside of his rivals.
It was then that Vettel opened up the Red Bull to it’s full potential. After 3 laps his lead was 5.6 seconds, only backing off after being told to look after his tyres. This still grew to 8.2secs over Rosberg as the first round of pitstops began.
Just how dominant Vettel drove was demonstrated after the restart on lap 31, which saw him move 3.2 seconds clear after just one lap, 10 secs after 4 laps, and 22 secs clear after 10. With the necessary cushion built up for his final pitstop, it was game over.
But by this point, it was all about the scraps developing behind him.
With Fernando Alonso leapfrogging Nico Rosberg after the first round of stops, the Ferrari man found himself behind the Force India of Paul Di Resta, who had gambled making his tyres last longer. This played into his hands when the Safety car came out – the Ferrari team gambled on stopping and then heading to the finish.
Although this put him behind Rosberg and Mark Webber, he quickly regained 2nd place when they stopped later on.
Lotus’s Romain Grosjean, who qualified third but dropped to fifth at the start, was right behind Alonso at the re-start and looked to have a shot at second place but was forced to retire with a lack of engine air pressure.
This then promoted Jenson Button to a respectable 3rd place with a handful of laps left to go. The McLaren man could almost taste the champagne, but his tyres began to cry “enough” and he was passed by Kimi Raikkonen, and fell down the field to just hold on to 8th at the line.
This was all missed on the coverage due to the firworks triggered by Sebastian Vettel crossing the line. It was fitting that the German hijacked the exciting finish, as he’d hijacked the race from start to finish without breaking a sweat.
Even on the podium he managed to get the last laugh. The German made a joke about being booed again on the podium, which is becoming routine.
“They are on a tour – they go around on a bus,” he quipped.
On this performance, they might just give up.
Singapore – The Results
|1||Sebastian Vettel||1||Red Bull|
|10||Adrian Sutil||15||Force India|
|14||Jean-Eric Vergne||18||Toro Rosso|
|15||Mark Webber (Ret)||2||Red Bull|
|16||Giedo Van Der Garde||21||Caterham|
|20||Paul Di Resta (Ret)||14||Force India|
|21||Romain Grosjean (Ret)||8||Lotus|
|22||Daniel Ricciardo (Ret)||19||Toro Rosso|