Sunday, September 28, 2008

Singapore Grand Prix: Alonso wins masterfully!

Renault's Fernando Alonso took his first win of the season and he took it giving the field a master class in driving and racecraft. The rain that was discussed all week never materialized and did not add any crazy surprises. After all seemed lost after a mechanical failure in qualifying and Alonso vocalizing his frustrations they rebounded in a way that reminded of their abilities that brought them titles in 2005 and 2006. Renault demonstrated the pace all weekend and have struck on a combination that is working very well for them at the moment. Moreover, Renault made some very aggressive strategy decisions, again reminiscent of their championship years. One of the things that was missing from Renault was their confidence. I would say with this win, they have gotten it back and may have gotten their double world champion driver to stay for 2009 in the process.

Felipe Massa had a disaster of the race in a pressure situation. Raikkonen crashed out after an average performance. It appears that the entire team is feeling the pressure and not giving Massa the support. The fact he was released into the pit lane and got penalized may have cost him the title. The problem with their automated pit release lights should have been solved as it was a problem at the European Grand Prix. Although he was not penalized at Valencia for being released too early in the pit lane, he was penalized here. I am very doubtful Ross Brawn would have allowed such errors.

In terms of points of interest:

1. Sebastien Bourdias. It was a complete waste again for Bourdais. The inconsistent performance and poor luck has hurt his ability to capitalize on the speed of the ToroRosso package. He finished 12th.

2. Attrition. Although the rain did not materialize, there were the expected crashes and reliability issues given the nature of street circuits. There were two safety car periods that helped Alonso but by no means was the reason for his win. However, there was an impact on the championship. Raikkonen with his crash has really made it difficult for himself in challenging Robert Kubica for 3rd in the title chase. Webber's problems certain does not help Red Bull's chances of beating their junior team Toro Rosso.

3. Heikki Kovalainen. Simply he failed in his bid to step up his performance which is a real disappointment. For a man driving a car the caliber of McLaren he has to extract more performance from the car. Yes, he has a win this season and its his first year at McLaren but I think Takuma Sato can get similar if not better results in that McLaren. Kovalainen finished 10th.

Notable performances are the Williams duo, Rosberg and Nakajima. They were having an excellent weekend and they followed through by having a great race. Both cars scored points today with Rosberg getting a career best 2nd place finish. Also, Toyota's Timo Glock drove quietly and impeccably to finish 4th.

Final Classification

1. Alonso

2. Rosberg

3. Hamilton

4. Glock

5. Vettel

6. Heidfeld

7. Coulthard

8. Nakajima

9. Button

10. Kovalainen

11. Kubica

12. Bourdais

13. Massa

14. Fisichella

15. Raikkonen

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:45.599


Senor Soup said...

Had the ridiculous pitlane closed rule not existed I reckon Nico Rosberg would have been in with a shout to win the race.

Pete DaSilva said...

Rosberg already had a chance of winning particularly with the last safety car period. The Alonso and Renault combination were better than Rosberg and Williams. Alonso gave Rosberg no hope and pulled a gap on him. Nevertheless, a fine drive from Rosberg.

Senor Soup said...

Yes, but on a circuit where track position is key, if it was rosberg leading Alonso at the final restart I think Nico would have held him off.

Pete DaSilva said...

Yes, it is possible given the pace of Williams in this race. However, in a battle where Alonso's pace was superior I would take my chances with Alonso. If he was running for the championship I think Alonso would settle and manage the car. However, with everything to gain in a year such as this, I do not think Rosberg would have stood a chance.