F1

Formula One 2009 drivers' title still undecided

Formula One 2009 drivers' title still undecided

After the Singapore Grand Prix, both Formula One championships are still undecided. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are still leading the Drivers Championship with 84 and 69 points, with Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel in third place with...

After the Singapore Grand Prix, both Formula One championships are still undecided. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are still leading the Drivers Championship with 84 and 69 points, with Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel in third place with 59 points and Mark Webber in fourth place with 51,5 points. Brawn GP is still leading the Constructors Championship with 153 points, followed by Red Bull and Ferrari with 110,5 and 62 points respectively.

Lewis Hamilton, the nuber one in Singapore.
Photo by xpb.cc.

At the Singapore street circuit Lewis Hamilton delivered another of his start-to-finish victories, obviously an excellent result for the McLaren team, although it must be said that Hamilton's job became a lot easier after many of his competitors were eliminated by drive-through penalties and brake problems. After a disastrous start of the season for McLaren, Hamilton has had no chance to defend his 2008 championship title whatsoever. All he now wants is to win as many races as he can, and score as many points as he can to help McLaren to take the third position in the Constructors Championship from Ferrari.

Button, after his bad qualification result, he only managed to score a twelfth place, was lucky to score any points at all. Button finished in fifth place, and because Vettel finished in fourth place, he only lost one point to Vettel in the championship. His team mate Barrichello had a bad weekend as well, he got a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox after qualifying, but nevertheless managed to finish in sixth place and scored four valuable points for the championship. The race for the Drivers Championship will now be decided between Button, Barrichello and Vettel.

Brake problems for Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso

Drivers Vettel and Webber kicked off their race weekend by qualifying in second and fourth place, but their race results did not reflect the promises of their qualification. Both drivers were on a two-stop strategy, but after his second pit stop, Vettel was caught speeding in the pit lane and was handed a drive-through penalty. This ruined his chances to win the race, and after he served his penalty, Vettel was back in ninth position and had to fight his way up to collect as many points as he possibly could.

Mark Webber had problems with his right front brakes, every time he hit the brakes a black cloud of brake dust surrounded the right front wheel. During his second pit stop, the Red Bull mechanics checked the brake cooling ducts for debris, but couldn't find anything, and Webber was send on his way again. One lap later he hit the brakes again, and this time they completely failed, sending the helpless Webber into the barrier and thus ending his hopes for the world title. A few laps later, Vettel's brakes started to fade too, spewing the same black brake dust, and he was forced to slow down and was told by the team to be easy on the brakes and settle for fourth place.

Red Bull's sister team, Toro Rosso, experienced the same brake problems, and on lap 48 the team called Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi into the pits, the cars were pushed into the garage and for both drivers the race was over.

Fernando Alonso on his way to third place.
Photo by xpb.cc.

First podium place for Renault

Bob Bell and Jean-Fran?ois Caubet replaced Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds after they were banned from motorsport by the WMSC on the Monday before the race. Alonso was keen to show the world that he and Renault had put all that behind them, and surprised friend and foe by landing his fist podium position of the season. Although he again had some luck with the safety car, Alonso again showed he is still a very motivated and strong driver. And with all the problems Renault experienced during the last three weeks, that was a truly remarkable achievement.

During the post-race press conference he dedicated his third place to Flavio Britore, which was in fact, as far as I'm concerned, the only mistake Alonso made this weekend. Romain Grosjean, who already had brake problems during qualifying, retired on lap 4, again with brake problems.

D?j? vu feeling for Rosberg

In 2008 Rosberg got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane which ruined his chances for a possible victory, and this year he was handed a drive-through penalty again. While exiting the pit lane after his first pit stop, Rosberg was a bit too enthusiastic and his Williams jumped over the kerbs that line the pit lane exit. He immediately steered his car back between the white lines, but it was too late, the marshals had no mercy and he got a drive-through penalty.

Unfortunately, as a result of the collision between Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld, the safety car was deployed at the worst possible moment for Rosberg. The rules say that you cannot serve a drive-through penalty while the safety car is deployed and poor Rosberg had to wait until the safety car went into the pit lane again. But by then all the cars were already closely lined up behind race leader Hamilton and when Rosberg went into the pit for the second time for his penalty, he rejoined the race in seventeenth and last position, and ended the race in a disappointing eleventh position.

Disappointment again for Giancarlo Fisichella

Fisichella was again very disappointed by his qualifying result, he didn't make it into Q2 and ended on eighteenth place. He told the media he still hadn't managed to find the right level of confidence in his car, and admitted that scoring points during the race would be a difficult task. The Ferrari has less downforce than his Force India car, which forces him to adapt a different driving style. He was right about scoring points, although he drove a flawless race, he only managed to bring his Ferrari home in thirteenth position.

Kimi Raikkonen also had weekend to forget, he qualified in thirteenth position and couldn't score any points either during the race. Raikkonen told he was struggling for grip during the first two stints of the race, when he changed to the softer tyres for the last stint he found some more grip, but by then it was too late and he had to settle for tenth place. Ferrari didn't score any points this weekend, and their third place in the Constructors Championship is now being attacked by McLaren, who now have narrowed the gap down to only three points.

Best performance of the season for Timo Glock

Before the race on Sunday, Glock was informed by team principle John Howett that the option in his contract for the 2010 season would not be taken up by the team. Glock did the only thing a driver can do in such a situation, during the race he gave it everything he had and drove an impressive race, resulting in a second place, his best performance this year. Jarno Trulli wasn't really competitive the whole weekend, and ended the race in twelfth position.

Adrian Sutil limping back to the pits, with his front wing caught under the front of his car.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Force India

No luck for Force India this weekend either. After their sensational performance in Belgium and Italy, the team didn't do well on the high downforce circuit of Singapore. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi did the best they could, but a sixteenth place for Sutil and a twentieth place for Liuzzi during qualifying was clearly not an ideal result. It was business as usual for Force India, and both drivers struggled to keep up with the rest of the competitors.

To make things worse, Sutil tried to overtake Jaime Alguersuari on lap 21, but missed his breaking point and spun to a halt on the right hand side of the track, narrowly missing Aguersauri. But when he tried to rejoin the race, he slammed his car into the BMW-Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, who was just at the wrong time at the wrong place. Quick Nick had to abandon his race at the spot, while Sutil minus his front wing limped into the pits for repairs. A few laps later he had to give up his race, and to make things worse, Sutil was rewarded with a $20.000 fine for his action. Team mate Liuzzi couldn't impress either and ended on the fourteenth and last position of the race.

Next race: Japan

After 14 races Jenson Button will still be satisfied, he leads the championship 15 points ahead of Rubens Barrichello, and 25 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel, the only two remaining candidates for the this year's championship. Vettel already vowed he would not give up before the end of the season, and Barrichello will certainly not give up either. Ross Brawn promised us that we will see a fair and clean championship right until the end. The next race in Japan could decide the championship, we will take a closer look at the possible scenarios in our preview of the Japanese Grand Prix at the renewed Suzuka circuit, which will be available on Thursday morning at Motorsport.com.

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