The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX : Singapore : Vettel Supreme

29-09-2015

Report by Jack Target

 

‘There’s a fan on the track! He thinks it’s all over…oh no it isn’t. It has just begun’.

Yes, Sebastian Vettel’s win in Singapore this weekend has added some drama to the race for the championship, added by a weekend where the almost perfect Mercedes faltered like we have not seen them falter before.

The German added win number three of the season, his 42nd overall overtaking Aryton Senna, to put himself right behind Nico Rosberg in the standings of the drivers championship. The runaway leader Lewis Hamilton struggled all weekend and had to retire. This was a near to perfect weekend for Ferrari.

The troubles started early for Mercedes as problems arose with their nearest rivals seeming to improve. Even the Red Bulls, who have their own drama with engine supplier Renault, looked to make a real push at the front of the pack again. When Daniil Kvyat finished fastest in last practice, those days struggling in the middle of the pack at the start of the year felt a very long time ago. Again Hamilton, who seemed untouchable, could only manage fifth fastest. Were the silver arrows there for the taking?

The answer was, simply, yes, or more appropriately si! Sebastian replicated the form he has at this track in the Red Bull with a fine display qualifying over half a second quicker than former team mate Daniel Ricciardo and a staggering 1.4 seconds ahead of Hamilton who qualified in 5th. Kimi Raikkonen topped off a great Saturday for Ferrari with his 3rd place splitting the Red Bulls. Nico Rosberg joined Hamilton on the third row. The line up was looking a bit topsy turvy. It was the first pole for Ferrari since Fernando Alonso got P1 in Germany in 2012. For a team of Ferrari’s stature that is a long wait. Yet another obstacle Vettel has overcome with his new team.

To race day and Seb managed to get away quite quickly, which gave him a greater advantage than usual as the Red Bulls were very quick around the circuit and were slowly creeping up on the Ferrari. However he managed to keep Ricciardo at arms length. All eyes were now on what Hamilton could do down in 5th.

We wouldn’t be looking at him for long though, as his car began to fail. No matter how much you support another team or driver, or your opinion of Lewis, he has been the best driver for at least the last couple of years. To see his championship lead diminish as Seb and Rosberg closed the gap seemed only fair if Lewis was being beaten by them, not his own car. The neutrals, and Ferrari fans, will enjoy what consequences come from this no-finish by Hamilton, but the Brit has been immense once again this year.

Then came the bizarre moment. On lap 38 a man was seen walking along the track. We know this is a street race so maybe the gentlemen in question was just popping to the shops for his tea? It seemed incredible that someone could be so nonchalant walking along the road next to these cars going at frightening speeds. Thankfully no one was hurt and the race continued. After the race Ricciardo stated the trespasser was taking photos. I wonder if we will get to see them?

The problem with street races was shown soon after. After a long period under the yellow fags due to the stroller and then waiting for the American Alexander Rossi trying to catch up and un-lap himself, the madness of racing got under way and inevitably someone crashes and back out come the flags. Bonus points for who was involved in the accident? Yes you guessed it, Pastor Maldonado, who this time edged out Jenson Button. The McLaren driver, who could be coming towards the end of his career, called the Venezuelan ‘mental’ over the team radio. Maldonado has been rewarded a seat for Lotus next year…  Remember kids, if you work really hard and put the time and effort in, you will also be able to sit in the pits, not achieving your F1 dreams whilst a man who can barely drive, with lots of money from his country’s government, makes a mockery of the sport you love.

With twenty laps to go the Toro Rossos were on the march. Their two young drivers were pulling no punches as they raced past the Lotus of ‘Crashtor’. Again they showed how good the ‘sister’ group of Red Bull is and the standard of driver they are bringing through. These two will be fun to watch in the coming years. They even have the stubborn competitiveness many great drivers have had in the past. Max Verstappen responded late on to his team telling him to let Carlos Sainz passed with a defiant ‘NO!’ over team radio. He duly finished 8th, a place ahead of his teammate, who had started the day in 14th.

In the end Sebastian cruised to victory. Kimi was also on the podium in 3rd with no Mercedes in sight. Rosberg grabbed 4th, but how Hamilton will rue not only his problems but also Kyviat’s who slipped down to 6th, letting Nico into the top four.

The standings now look a bit more interesting as Hamilton’s lead is reduced to 41 points with Vettel just eight behind his fellow countryman.

Despite us becoming more accustomed to the sight of a Ferrari going past the checkered flag first, this victory was very different to the others. In the two previous victories it has either been good strategy or problems with Mercedes that have propelled the prancing horse to victory. This weekend though, the horse held it’s own. It was a dominant display from Vettel, one which has become synonymous with the 28 year old.

Despite there being still six races left it would take a huge effort, and a lot of luck, for the title to come back to Ferrari this year, let alone taken away from Hamilton. However, this race was the first in a very big step for Ferrari to bring back the heady days of Schumacher. All of this could be backed up or again turned on its head very shortly as we head to Suzuka next week for the Japanese Grand Prix.