The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX : Singapore : An Evening of Frustration

03-10-2014

Information from Ferrari Media

 

Qualifying

Alonso fifth and Raikkonen seventh on the grid sounds like the norm this season, but it hides the fact that qualifying was exciting for everyone and one with several positives for Scuderia Ferrari.

There were moments during the 240 total minutes of free practice in Singapore, when it looked as though the 2014 season’s established order of things might be upset, with Fernando Alonso putting his F14 T at the top of the time sheet in two of the three sessions, while his  team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was quickest come the end of the first 18 minutes of the evening’s qualifying around the Marina Bay street circuit.

However, there was always a suggestion that the usual front-runners were sandbagging, holding something back for when it mattered and so it proved.

When the final chequered flag was waved, at the end of what was the most exciting qualifying of the year, Fernando Alonso found himself fifth on the grid. As he said himself after the session, “we are always around fifth.” But he was pleased with what was in many ways the best qualifying session of the year for the Prancing Horse, as his time was only two tenths off the pole man’s. That honour, for the sixth time this year went to Lewis Hamilton, who beat his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by just seven thousandths of a second. That makes it the most closely contested pole since Sebastian Vettel beat our own Fernando Alonso by just two thousandths to take pole in the 2010 German Grand Prix.

Separating the silver arrows from the Spaniard’s F14 T and occupying the second row of the grid are the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo in third and Sebastian Vettel in fourth.

The team that appeared to have underperformed slightly was Williams, with Felipe Massa lining up sixth alongside Fernando. He finished ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who had to abort his second run because of a technical problem: a great shame as the Finn had been in great shape all weekend.

The big difference in lap times between the Soft and Supersoft Pirellis means the general expectation switched from a two to a three stop race, with the Option tyre expected to be used the most. It will make for a fascinating tactical battle, with teams prepared to adjust their strategies at a moment’s notice if the Safety Car continues its 100% appearance record at this race.

 

The Race

It’s fair to say that the result of a long hot night in the tropics did not live up to expectations for the Prancing Horse team. However, in performance terms, one could say that the difference between the Marina Bay showing and that of Monza two weeks ago is the difference between night and day.

As the camera flashlights popped in the grandstands when the red lights went out, Fernando produced one of his trademark starts, his F14 T rocketing from his customary fifth on the grid to second behind Lewis Hamilton. Admittedly he was helped in this by the fact that the Englishman’s Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg left a hole on the front row as he had to start from pit lane. The German retired after a few laps, thus handing the title lead back to race winner Hamilton.

Fernando unfortunately outbraked himself at the first corner, which allowed Sebastian Vettel, who had got past Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the start, back into second place. From then on, Fernando’s competitive pace saw him in permanent contact with the leaders and on lap 24 when he made his second pit stop, he managed to get the jump on Vettel, undercutting the German to lie second behind the untroubled Hamilton.

But then the Safety Car, a fickle beast that can be your friend or your enemy, dashed the Spaniards hopes. It came out on lap 31, after the front wing of Perez’ Force India shattered, sending debris flying everywhere. The Ferrari strategists reacted, bringing both its drivers in for a final pit stop, leaving them 30 laps to run to the flag on new Soft tyres. However, the two Red Bulls gambled on staying out and ran very long to the flag, proving impossible to pass, thus leaving Fernando unable to exploit his new tyres and making fourth his best possible finish. Kimi had a tougher time, with traffic, usually in the shape of a faster Williams and also suffered with high degradation, eventually having to settle for eighth.

So there was plenty of tension to keep the crowd enthralled, even if the final order of the top four was the same one as at the end of the opening lap, Hamilton in the Mercedes, Vettel and Ricciardo in the Red Bulls and Alonso fourth for Ferrari. In between the Spaniard and his Finnish team-mate, were Massa for Williams, Vergne an impressive sixth for Toro Rosso and Sergio Perez seventh for Force India.

Having run competitively all weekend from the very first practice session on Friday, Scuderia Ferrari ended the fourteenth round of the World Championship with Fernando Alonso taking the chequered flag in fourth place and Kimi Raikkonen crossing the line eighth.

However, the encouraging message for the Scuderia and its fans is that the general pace of the F14 T was much better than in past races and now we head to one of the great challenges on the calendar, the splendid Suzuka circuit and a very different type of a track to this one.