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2010 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX FERNANDO AND SINGAPORE LIGHT UP THE TITLE RACE
26 September - A driving display as dazzling as the Marina Bay circuit on which it happened saw Fernando Alonso win the 2010 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX for Ferrari and catapult himself back into this year’s thrilling World Championship race.
In front of a sell-out Singapore crowd, Alonso had to fight tooth and nail to keep the fast-starting Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull at bay through the first corner, then protected the advantage his pole position had given him to win the gruelling 61-lap race by the margin of just 0.293 seconds.
“I love this track,” said Alonso, who won the inaugural race here in 2008. “It seems to suit my driving style!” It was Alonso’s fourth victory of the season, matching the tally of World Championship leader Mark Webber, whose Red Bull was third after a brave early call to change tyres after just three laps.
Webber was also involved in the most controversial moment of a thrilling race when he made contact with Lewis Hamilton in Turn 5, ending the 2009 Singapore winner’s race and seriously denting the Englishman’s hopes of a second world title.
“I got caught up behind one of the Virgin cars,” said Webber of the lap 36 collision that came shortly after the Safety Car had left the track following an earlier incident. “He was doing his best but Lewis just got a big run on me. He was able to set me up and have a crack at me and unfortunately we’ve made contact. It’s not desirable, but it was a key part of the race for me to keep him out.”
Unsurprisingly, Hamilton’s take on the incident was slightly different. “I thought I'd got sufficiently past him,” said the 2008 World Champion. “I braked, turned in, and tried to leave enough room for him on the inside - and the next thing I knew I'd got clipped, my tyre was blown, and that was it. But, as the saying goes, I guess that's motor racing.”
Vettel was left to rue his failure to take pole position on a weekend where the Red Bull had seemed the quickest car on the 5.073km Marina Bay circuit. “There was a bit missing yesterday,” said the young German, “and probably that’s what was missing today. I tried to push him [Alonso] into a mistake but he didn’t make a major mistake and it’s difficult to overtake here. In the end we got away with second, and good points.”
The result means Webber now leads by 11 points from Alonso, with Hamilton a further nine points adrift and in turn just one point clear of Vettel. The fifth of the title-chasing quintet, Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button, finished fourth and is now fifth in the standings, 25 points – a full race win – behind Webber with four races remaining.
A stunning race through the Singapore streets took another dramatic twist in the closing laps when Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus came on to the main straight with the back of the car in flames. The Finn showed great sang-froid to stop, get out, accept a fire extinguisher from a nearby marshal and douse the fire himself.
As the high-powered entertainment program in the circuit precinct kicked in, Mariah Carey rocked the large crowd packed into the Padang to round off a Grand Prix weekend with a total attendance of over 240,000 over three action-packed days and nights.
With no worries about the weather on a day of clear blue skies, the earlier support race program produced two thrilling encounters. Malaysia’s Calvin Wong drove superbly to win the second Formula BMW Pacific race of the weekend from 14-year-old Colombian sensation Oscar Tunjo, with guest driver from Europe Carlos Sainz in third place. Singapore-based Richard Bradley confirmed his status as overall title favourite by finishing a controlled fourth.
In the second Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race, Craig Baird made it back-to-back wins with a carefully managed 2.2-second margin over Hong Kong duo Marchy Lee and Darryl O’Young, but the star of the show was reigning champion Christian Menzel, who started from 13th on the grid but spread-eagled the field to end up fourth. Singapore’s Mok Weng Sun claimed a superb sixth place overall to head home the non-professional drivers in Class B, where he has a 100 per cent winning record this season.