Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 F1 : Hamilton wins in Singapore

2009 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix winner : Lewis Hamilton - McLaren-Mercedes

SINGAPORE : September 27, 2009 - Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) enjoyed an unchallenged flag-to-flag victory under floodlights in the 61-lap Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Briton got away cleanly from his pole position and was never headed at the city state street circuit. Timo Glock (Toyota) made a rare appearance on the podium in second place and was joined by last year's controversial winner, Fernando Alonso (Renault).

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) was very close behind Hamilton at one stage but then got caught speeding in the pit lane, however he recovered well to fourth place. Fifth was championship leader Jenson Button (Brawn-Mercedes) who increased his lead in the title race over team mate Rubens Barrichello who was sixth. The final points placings went to Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren-Mercedes) and Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber).

Button opened up his championship lead over Barrichello by a point to lead by 84/69. Vettel retained third place but fell away and now has only the slimmest chance of winning the title.

McLaren was the top-scoring manufacturer team at Singapore, but Brawn and Red Bull are the only two teams capable of winning the constructors' championship which Brawn leads by 84 points to 69.

As the Singapore fans sweltered under the floodlights, Hamilton got the hole shot into the first corner ahead of Rosberg and Vettel with Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) under attack from Alonso. The Spaniard was forced to back off as Webber passed him on the outside of the corner and Alonso dropped to sixth.

There was also robust first lap action between Kovalainen and Barrichello with Button watching from close behind after moving up from 12th on the grid to 10th.

Crossing the line for the first time, Hamilton was leading from Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Glock, Alonso, Barrichello, Kubica, Kovalainen and Button.

It was an early retirement for rookie Romain Grosjean who parked his Renault in the garage on lap 3 with an unknown mechanical problem.

On lap 5, Hamilton's pit crew radioed him to say there was a problem with his Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and advised him to switch it off.

Third-placed Vettel was flying and set a fastest lap of 1'49.122 on lap 4. Despite no KERS, Hamilton immediately responded with a 1'48.700 on the next lap and then improved that to a 1'48.638.

On the next lap, Webber was told by his pit to yield two positions to Glock and Alonso for his first-lap transgression when he passed Alonso off the track.

Rosberg was next to set a fastest lap - 1'48.352 on lap 9.

After ten laps, Hamilton had a 2.0 sec lead over Rosberg who was followed by Vettel +4.4, Glock +13.2 and Alonso +17.6.

Kimi Räikkönen was the leading Ferrari down in 12th place, 7 sec behind Kazuki Nakajima (Williams-Toyota) and 44 sec behind Hamilton's McLaren. Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Ferrari was in 16th place and under pressure from Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India-Mercedes) who was the only driver on soft compound tyres for the first stint. Liuzzi got alongside and briefly ahead, but then there was contact between the two cars and Liuzzi had to back off.

Vettel was the first to make a pit stop for fuel and tyres, leaving the race in third place to rejoin in eighth. Rosberg was next in and a clean stop saw him back into the pit lane without drama, but he hit the gas too soon before getting out of the exit lane and ran wide over the kerb and over the white line, but turned back into the lane again before rejoining the track in fifth place. Rosberg came under investigation by the race stewards for the incident and was later given a drive-through penalty for the infringement.

On lap 20, Sutil tried to overtake up the inside of Trulli, but had to brake to avoid contact and spun out. As he tried to complete a 360 degree spin to rejoin the track, he hit innocent Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) in the side as he came by, putting him out of the race. Although Sutil left the scene of the crime, his car was damaged and he later retired. The safety car was deployed to allow marshals to clear debris from the track.

On lap 21, Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) left his pit before being told to do so, and with the fuel rig still attached, the same error as Felipe Massa made at this same circuit a year ago. The refuelling crew were pulled to the ground by the fuel hose, but were OK.

The safety car was withdrawn at the end of lap 24 and the cars went racing again. Fifth-placed Alonso tried to get past Glock but failed, with Barrichello very close behind and waiting to pounce on any errors.

Webber once again went off the racing line and over the chicane, but did not make up any places this time.

On lap 27, second-placed Rosberg went into the pits to serve his drive-through penalty and rejoined in 14th. With Rosberg out of the way, Vettel began to put pressure on race leader Hamilton, closing up to within 0.8 sec on lap 29. Vettel was consistently fastest in the first sector, but Hamilton was able to get away in the other two, and held the gap at around a second. Glock was closing on the two leaders and brought the gap between himself and Vettel down to four seconds.

Rosberg was down in 14th place, but still lapping quickly and closed up on Jarno Trulli (Toyota) to have a go at 13th place, but the tight and twisty nature of the track made it impossible for him to get past. The German made a pit stop and switched to the super-soft compound tyres and rejoined in last place again. He ran wide on his out lap and brushed his wheels along the wall but got away with it.

Hamilton responded to the pressure from Vettel close behind and set a new fastest lap of 1'48.345 on lap 36. Vettel once again went fastest in the first sector, but could not stay with the world champion in the other two sectors.

Vettel made his final pit stop on lap 39 and rejoined in seventh place behind championship rival Button. The only other driver capable of winning this year's championship, Barrichello, was in fifth place, but both Brawn drivers still had a pit stop to make.

But Vettel had exceeded the speed limit in the pit lane and came under investigation by the stewards. He did himself no favours by running over the kerbs and ripping off pieces of his under-car diffuser, critical to the aerodynamics of the car. His pace dropped by a second a lap as a result. On lap 43 he pitted to serve a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Webber had huge amounts of black brake dust pouring out of his right front wheel hub under braking and he pitted for fuel and tyres, but nothing could be done about the brake problem. The Australian rejoined in 14th place, but only for one lap before he had brake failure and he crashed backwards off the track into the tyre wall, breaking the rear suspension.

With so many of the cars ahead of him being compromised in the race, Button found himself in third place and responded by posting his personal fastest lap of the race - 1'48.743 - on lap 48. He was just 5.4 sec behind Hamilton but still had a pit stop to make. On the next lap he set a 1'48.521 as his fuel load decreased.

With ten laps to go, Button made a slick pit stop and rejoined in seventh behind Räikkönen who still had a final stop to make.

Hamilton was leading by 9.9 sec from Glock, who was followed by Alonso +16.0, Vettel +23.0, Button +25.8, Barrichello +31.7 and Kovalainen +38.0.

Alonso set a new fastest lap of 1'48.240 on lap 53 as he tried to reduce the 6.3 sec gap to Glock.

With eight laps remaining, fifth-placed Button was chasing Vettel who was 2.3 sec ahead. Further behind, Nakajima was pressurising Kubica for eighth place.

With six laps remaining, Button was 1.2 sec behind Vettel, but then he backed off as team boss Ross Brawn came over the radio and told him to nurse the car to the finish.

With the high rate of attrition in the race and all the cars and drivers suffering in the heat and humidity of the equatorial city, everyone seemed happier to bank their points and cruise for the line.

The next and 15th race in the championship is the Japanese GP at Suzuka on 04 October.

Race Result : Formula 1 - 2009 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix

1 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2 10 Timo Glock Toyota
+9.6 secs
3 7 Fernando Alonso Renault
+16.6 secs
4 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault
+20.2 secs
5 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes
+30.0 secs
6 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes
+31.8 secs
7 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
+36.1 secs
8 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber
+55.0 secs
9 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota
+56.0 secs
10 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
+58.8 secs
11 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
+59.7 secs
12 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota
+73.0 secs
13 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari
+79.8 secs
14 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
+93.5 secs
Ret 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
Ret 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
Ret 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault
Ret 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
Accident damage
Ret 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber
Ret 8 Romain Grosjean Renault

Driver Championship Standings :

1 Jenson Button British Brawn-Mercedes
2 Rubens Barrichello Brazilian Brawn-Mercedes
3 Sebastian Vettel German RBR-Renault
4 Mark Webber Australian RBR-Renault
5 Kimi Räikkönen Finnish Ferrari
6 Lewis Hamilton British McLaren-Mercedes
7 Nico Rosberg German Williams-Toyota
8 Fernando Alonso Spanish Renault
9 Timo Glock German Toyota
10 Jarno Trulli Italian Toyota
11 Felipe Massa Brazilian Ferrari
12 Heikki Kovalainen Finnish McLaren-Mercedes
13 Nick Heidfeld German BMW Sauber
14 Robert Kubica Polish BMW Sauber
15 Giancarlo Fisichella Italian Ferrari
16 Adrian Sutil German Force India-Mercedes
17 Sebastien Buemi Swiss STR-Ferrari
18 Sebastien Bourdais French STR-Ferrari
19 Kazuki Nakajima Japanese Williams-Toyota
20 Nelsinho Piquet Brazilian Renault
21 Luca Badoer Italian Ferrari
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi Italian Force India-Mercedes
23 Romain Grosjean French Renault
24 Jaime Alguersuari Spanish STR-Ferrari

Constructor Championship Standings :

1 Brawn-Mercedes
2 RBR-Renault
3 Ferrari
4 McLaren-Mercedes
5 Toyota
6 Williams-Toyota
7 Renault
8 BMW Sauber
9 Force India-Mercedes
10 STR-Ferrari

[Source : Super Wheels , F1 Official, DAIMLER]


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