Unusually for me I was able to watch the GP2 sprint race on a reasonably good internet feed and enjoyed it immensely. Am I right in thinking that the GP2 chaps have no DRS or KERS? (Note to self: I must read up on GP2 tech'). Thus, in spite of the efforts of the commentators to big it up by shouting all the time, the F1 race was thoroughly disappointing .
Several things stood out. Firstly - and I don't know if it was the same bloke doing the job later - the producer covering the GP2 race made an effort to show some very hard fought battles that were taking place throughout the whole field. This meant that there was a lot of entertainment even though it was an almost Seb-like runaway victory for Sam Bird. We also got to see much more of the "ambient" environment of the circuit and surrounding features. We could see the architecture of the circuit, the city's buildings and bridges, parks and gardens, giving a great sense of location without losing sight of the action
. It also felt right to be watching a race in daylight during daytime.
Contrast that with the F1 coverage where we got the first 12 laps procession interspersed with pictorially attractive but pointless travelogue helicopter shots of night time Singapore. Watching a night race at lunch-time feels just wrong. I started to get jet-lag whilst sat on my sofa. To compound the effect, the on-track action as ever looked like it was shot in a tunnel. Yes the F1 cars looked lovely and shiny, and yes the colours under the floodlights looked impressive, but only briefly since after the first few laps it all melted into the same boring backdrop. From the helicopter shots the dots that were racing cars disappeared and reappeared in the bright stripe that was the circuit. Personally I could not see who was who during those shots and found it extraordinarily tedious.
There were a few very good overtakes but two them invoked the muted wrath of the Stew-hards who chose to negate them by imposing drive-through's. Correct me if I am wrong but is it not the rule that competitors must leave a car's width of race track for opponents who are alongside them? How is then that Hamilton and Hulkenberg got penalised for being forced off of track limits in what to my mind were fair tussles? We may have seen a more interesting battle up front had the consequences for Hamilton not cost him at least eleven laps stuck behind the dodgy Massa for fear of that happening again. Those two penalties possibly deterred others from making passes, I don't know, but I am sure it stunted overtaking opportunities for The Ham and the Hulk, whether they themselves say or admit so in public or otherwise.
And (to break the "never start a new sentence with 'and' or 'but'" rule, just for effect you understand) then there was the curse of the reliability, unpredictable tyres and totally predictable DRS regulation. I thoroughly enjoy the tactical side of F1. However, the whole tyre, car conservation and DRS artificial overtake remedy meant that most of the near two hours - I'll say that again in big letters and an expletive for emphasis - TWO ****ING HOURS - of racing consisted of ... not racing!
To cap it all off we were treated to the usual exhortations of what a wonderful drive it was by Sebastian - which it was - but we didn't get to see any of it! I personally derive pleasure from seeing one or two complete laps of the driver leading the race. Especially those laps where he is pushing like hell to break from the pack and build a lead. Apart from the occasional super-slo-mo (or still photograph as I like to call them) I don't recall seeing any of the laps where Seb would have been throwing the car through the turns and esses.
So, having said all that I will depart from my usual efforts to score elements of the race to come up with a total. That is because I know without the need for exhaustive calculation that I was once again bored almost to a torpor. I managed to stay awake this week only by having BSB on Eurosport to glance at from time to time, but iit was a gargantuan effort requiring more
than I usually consume in a week. Ironically I have derived more satisfaction and enjoyment writing this critique than I extracted from the entire race!
Therefore Singapore 2013 gets a lowly three from me.
A re-run and/or highlights of this critique will appear later in the pages of Rootersport