Vettel dominates Singapore, but the Title will have to wait
Sebastian Vettel has won his ninth Grand Prix of the season, but will have to wait until Japan to formally take home the title.
It was a textbook drive by the World Champion-in-waiting, leading from his 26th career pole position to the flag, with no other driver mustering enough performance to challenge him.
Vettel sits one agonising point away from becoming Formula One’s youngest ever double World Champion, with a 124 point advantage over second-placed Jenson Button with 125 points remaining in the season.
‘First of all I’m very, very pleased with the result, the car was fantastic all the way through,’ said the ecstatic Vettel, after tearing up slightly on the podium.
‘We were in a comfortable position for most of the race. The pace was good, and I’m very pleased.
‘This is one of the toughest challenges we face all year. It’s nice when you cross the line known you’ve done your best and achieved your optimum.
‘All in all a fantastic result. I love the track. Everything was great.’
The German was fittingly followed home by Button, who leapfrogged Mark Webber off the line for a satisfying 17 points for McLaren.
He admitted before the race that he needed to beat Webber to the first corner to maximise his car’s performance, and another of Webber’s pedestrian start ensured his hypothetical materialised.
‘This is the best we could have done today,’ said an upbeat Button. He was prevented from challenging late in the race by the pair of battling Williams cars, apparently oblivious to the blue flags.
‘A good finish all the same, and something we can hopefully build on for the next race.’
Button is currently leads teammate Lewis Hamilton by 17 points.
Red Bull’s number two Mark Webber found his way to P3 after briefly falling to fifth on the first lap. Despite his efforts, he found himself eliminated from the largely meaningless championship fight at the end of the race.
‘We’ll look at [my starts] and try to improve. Unfortunately I find myself having to come back through too often,’ admitted Webber, whose starts this year have been less than inspiring.
‘In the end I probably lost a position today.
‘This is a very very challengning venue, it’s nice to ahev the car in one piece.’
The best Ferrari could manage was fourth, in the form of Fernando Alonso. The team from Maranello was disappointed not to have done better after showing promising race simulations during Friday practice.
In P5 came a dispirited Lewis Hamilton. An eventful race for the Briton saw him lose three place off the line before clawing his way back with clever use of the DRS and KERS.
His hard work was undone, however, with a clumsy move on Felipe Massa after the first round of pit stops. Hamilton lost his nose cone in Massa’s rear-right tyre, giving the Brazilian a puncture in the process.
To compound matters, he was awarded a drive-through penalty for the collision shortly afterwards.
di Resta chalked up his career-best result in his Force India VJM04. His sixth place earns him a valuable eight points, and some credibility for his looming contract negotiations.
Rosberg in P7 was the first of a long list of cars one lap or more down from Vettel. He led home Sutil, Massa and Perez in the last of the point-scoring positions.
The race was completed largely without incident, the one major exception being Michael Schumacher’s disasterous overtaking attempt on Sergio Perez.
The Mercedes’ superior straight line speed brought the seven times World Champion right up to the Mexican, at which point he failed to predict Perez’ breaking point. He speared into the back of Perez, launching the W02 into the air and, eventually, into the barrier.
The medical car rushed to the seen, but the only injury Schumacher suffered was a thoroughly bruised ego, and he walked dejectedly back to the paddock.
Formula One returns for round fifteen of the 2011 season at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan on 9 October.