Grand Prix 2013 Singapore Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

So break out your long haul baggage boys we're back on the fly aways and we're off to Singapore.

A lot has been said about Singapore but one thing that can't be argued about is how jaw droppingly spectacular Formula One's premium night race is at on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. We all know that the idea of the night race was a concept Bernie pushed for European viewing figures but wow how amazing does it look? The lit up city of Singapore is the perfect background and its success is shown in the fact that both Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are trying to move in on the turf. I've always loved Singapore For me it is the showpiece of the fly aways, the Asian Monaco.
I know some people will agree with a cynical grunt about it being the Asian Monaco as its viewed as a dull track with very few overtaking spots and while it is true that overtakes can only be done with a great amount of skill for me Singapore is a drivers circuit and we've had our fair share of action if we look back.

The place certainly has character and history for a race that's only been running in its modern format since 2008. The very first race in 2008 was of course THAT race with THAT Piquet crash. Something that has meant the corner in question shall always been known as Piquet corner if only unofficially. But lets not forget we had some other memorable moments at that race. Who can forget the site of the (slightly tubby) Ferrari pit crew rushing down the pitlane after Massa pulled away with the fuel hose still attached leaving his championship on tatters. Alonso is still listed as the official winner of that race but very few of us agree he was. The majority of people will refer to that race as Nico Rosberg's first win which I completely disagree with. Rosberg got just as much an advantage from the Piquet crash as Alonso. If it was deemed cheating the result should have been declared from the running order the lap previous to the Piquet crash which would have made Massa the first official winner - it would also have given him half points and the 2008 world title. 2009 was all about Lewis Hamilton although most people will remember it for Rosberg's top notch performance spoiled by crossing the pitlane exit line and getting a penalty. 2010 was Alonso vs Vettel with Fernando sitting just in front of Seb for the whole 60 laps after a tasty defence off the start line. We also saw a still much debated coming together between Webber and Hamilton off a safety car re-start. 2011 was the season of Vettel dominance and Singapore was not much different and I'm still not sure whether Button was really pushing him that day or he was just taking it easy. 2011 had more to discuss with yet another Hamilton/Massa coming together. Which brings us to last year which had all the right elements for a classic with Hamilton on pole, Maldonado second and Vettel in third but when Maldo got a poor start and Lewis's gearbox went on lap 23 no one could really live with Vettel who is a master round here at the best of times. 2012 did see one first though. Michael Schumacher crashed in to the back of Jean-Eric Vergne and actually got out of the car an apologised to JEV because the accident was his fault! No wonder he chose to retire.

So race number 6 is about to come up with some slight changes to the track lay out as the Singapore Sling at turn 10 has been reconfigured so drivers have to negotiate a flowing left hander and whilst, after the last two races, expectations are low but I have a feeling Singapore is going to throw us up and event. It is true that Sebastian Vettel is king of Singapore but Alonso has always been hot round here and on occasions Hamilton has looked unbeatable but has had some very bad luck. Other than China this is probably Rosbergs best track and Button has always ran well here so we do have the right ingredients for a close fight and some wheel to wheel racing which probably bring down the already high odds of a safety car. Someone who has never had a good day at Singapore is Kimi and if you throw in the fact Grosjean has always been average here (he replicated the Piquet crash in practice in 2009 much to the embarrassment of his team) and I wouldn't expect a good weekend for the team from Enstone. Di Resta got his best result ever round here but with Force India falling away I can't see him repeating it. Williams have always been good round here but this year they'll need a miracle. Toro Rosso might be worth a bet for a result though with the car looking good, Ricciardo on a high and Vergne being a bit of a street circuit demon. Although the best bet is Hulkenberg in the top 5 as he is flying at the moment.

So love it or hate it no one can argue that Singapore isn't unique and I'm sure as always with this place we'll have something to argue with each other about for weeks afterwards.
 

Blog Zbod

Podium Finisher
I'm a bit late asking this, but I noticed Vettel let the safety car get quite a lead over him. Last season at Hungary, he was penalised for letting the safety car gap him more than 10 lengths. Is that no longer the rule, or is there some subtlety to the rule I'm unfamiliar with, or were the stewards napping?
 

Blog Zbod

Podium Finisher
Cheers for straightening me out on the safety car thing!


Giancarlo Minardi (he of the eponymous F1 team) is suspicious of the legality of Vettel's Singapore performance:

"...There are some aspects, Vettel's very neat way of driving, Vettel's speedup 50 m before the other drivers, the abnormal sound of the Renault engine and Vettel's more than 2 sec. advantage over his rivals that make me think and I would like to have some answers...."
 

F1Yorkshire

Avatar for sale to the highest bidder
Contributor
The extreme lead he pulled out is pearly explained by Vettel being on fresh tyres and Rosberg struggling with rubber in his wing holding everyone else up. Still not looking good for the rest of the season.
 

Blog Zbod

Podium Finisher
The extreme lead he pulled out is pearly explained by Vettel being on fresh tyres and Rosberg struggling with rubber in his wing holding everyone else up. Still not looking good for the rest of the season.
I did find one F1 pundit -- sorry, can't put my hand on it right this instant -- that made a similar point. He said Merc were exhorting Nico to give it the wellie, but Nico sagely realised it was a fool's errand and only would have ronnied their pit stop strategy. So Rosberg effectively became a mobile road block to those who might have had the ability to slow Vettel's unchallenged ride into the sunset.

Grand Prix 24/7 takes this occasion to remind us of the time Schumacher's Benetton retained the traction control software in its driver's control interface but simply deleted the label for it. Meaning if you were aware that the setting with the blank heading was the old (recently banned) traction control setting, the driver still could activate it. Which is what Ayrton Senna believed MSC was doing.
 

Blog Zbod

Podium Finisher
Autosprint have picked up on Minardi's remark regarding the RB9's exhaust note at Singapore and turned it into a full-blown conspiracy theory. The online teaser is here but the complete story is only available at this moment in their 1 October print issue. In a nutshell, they think Newey has resurrected exhaust overrun within the scope of the current TR. The teaser offers no other contributing evidence, except that Vettel for some unknown reason was faster than stink.

The fly in the ointment is that the Renault engines are known to be using a cylinder deactivation scheme for better fuel economy, which one would expect to produce a unique exhaust note. And there was mention at Monza of the Renault-engined Caterhams making a similar rude noise. So I'm thinking it might just be that the #1 RB9 was on its own for so much of the race in the canyons of Singapore that it simply gave observers better opportunity to scrutinize its exhaust note, unmolested by the noise of his competitor's engines.

(Mods: I chose not to start a new thread for this in the Technical forum because I am unconvinced it isn't simply wild speculation, and this is the thread I first remarked to the Minardi rumour in.)
 
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