After a tense duel from the red lights to the checkered flag, with two safety car periods, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel took his second win of the 2012 Formula 1 season at yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix
. Using a two-stop strategy, the reigning world champion took full advantage of the retirement of early leader Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, who suffered gearbox problems after 22 laps.
Another crucial retirement was made by Williams’ Pastor Maldonaldo, again due to technical problems. The Venezuelan had started at second on the grid.
Vettel won the race with a nine second gap between himself and McLaren’s other driver, Jenson Button, who finished second. Though Vettel will be happy to have scored some much-needed championship points, current points leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari still managed to score third spot on the podium, although his advantage over the German has come down to 29 points.
Force India’s Paul di Resta earned himself a career-best fourth, while Mercedes-AMG’s Nico Rosberg finished in fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Lotus drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean in sixth and seven spots, respectively, followed by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, STR’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sauber’s Sergio Perez.
Sadly for Red Bull Racing’s other driver, Mark Webber, the Aussie was handed a drive-through penalty that added 20 seconds to his race time, seeing him end 11th despite being the 10th finisher. The stewards ruled that he had left the track earlier while passing Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi.
A tough race was expected and so it proved, with night time doing little to diminish the heat and humidity and, this being the longest race of the year, drivers needed to focus for the entire two-hour time limit--the race ended two laps before the scheduled 61 laps were completed.
The safety car played its part, initially coming out on lap 33 when Narain Karthikeyan put his HRT into the wall and the second time, almost immediately after the first period had ended, after Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes-AMG collided with Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.
With his latest win, Sebastian Vettel now moves into the second spot on the Drivers’ Championship ladder, with his 164 points tally short 29 points of Fernando Alonso’s lead. Kimi Räikkönen remains in third with 149 points.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing remains the clear leader with 297 points, with McLaren in second with 261 points and Ferrari in third place with 245 points.
The 2012 Formula 1 championship continues in two weeks time with the Japanese Grand Prix at the legendary Suzuka circuit.