Seb Shines Bright in Singapore Night

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SINGAPORE – Sebastian Vettel raced to a commanding Singapore Grand Prix victory, his third in a row at the Marina Bay street circuit. Mark Webber, meanwhile, suffered last-lap heartbreak as he was forced to retire while in fourth place.

The seventh win of Sebastian’s season so far was secured almost immediately after the start. He made a good getaway from pole position, but front-row rival Nico Rosberg started better and edged in front of Seb as they approached turn one.

The Mercedes driver carried a bit too much speed in, however, and was forced to run wide. That allowed Sebastian to retake the lead at turn three and from there he set about building a gap.

By lap 22 his advantage over Rosberg was up to 9.5 seconds, with the fast-starting Fernando Alonso third and Mark fourth.

On lap 24, however, Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo crashed at turn 18 and the safety car was released. That erased the gap and also caused a shift in strategies and the order.

Sebastian, Rosberg, Mark and Lewis Hamilton opted to stay out on track during the safety car period but behind them a host of cars opted to take on fresh tires, including Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Those choices were to have a major effect on the race

When the safety car departed on lap 31, Sebastian held his lead and, indeed, seemed to find even more pace. He was 3.2 seconds up on Rosberg within a lap and by lap 36 he was over 14 seconds clear of the Mercedes. With that kind of pace on tap and a comfortable gap in hand, his 33rd career victory was assured.

“It’s just been a fantastic weekend,” said Seb. “The start was close, but then we had strong race pace, especially when the safety car came in, and we pushed very hard to try to build up a gap. You never know what’s coming up and what can happen.

“The last ten laps seemed to go on forever inside the car,” he added. “I kept my concentration by reminding myself how easily you can make a mistake around here, the walls are close and if you don’t pay enough attention it can go wrong pretty quickly. I focused on hitting the brakes correctly and on saving the tires.

“We didn’t expect to be that strong, but it’s a team effort,” he concluded. “Everyone is pushing hard and I think the secret, if there is one, is that we love what we do and we’re so passionate.”

Behind him the order was changing. Sixth-placed Romain Grosjean retired with engine problems, and then Mark managed to get past Rosberg thanks to better pace and a slow stop for the German.

The place he gained, however, was eighth, as those who stopped under the safety car risked all and opted to continue to the end on the tires taken on following Ricciardo’s accident.

The tactic worked for Alonso and Raikkonen, who both had enough time in hand to cushion them against a charge from those, including Mark, on much fresher tires in the closing stages.

Mark managed to get past Esteban Gutierrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button to claim fourth but then he began to suffer problems. He was told to short shift and then with just a lap remaining he reported that he had no power and was forced to pull over and retire.

“I think I did pretty much everything I could today,” said Mark. “We had pace in the car when we needed, we managed the tires and made a very good undercut on Nico, I was really happy with that lap. Then, six laps from the end, the guys were getting worried about the car. So, yeah, it’s annoying but someone’s had a tougher day than me somewhere and that’s the way it goes. I was having to short shift, but then, unlike Monza, we started to lose a lot of power. We were just trying to get home at that point but then on the last lap we caught fire.”

To make matters worse, Mark later earned a 10-place grid penalty by stewards, to be applied in Korea, after he took a lift back to the pits from Alonso. The move was deemed to be potentially dangerous and Mark was reprimanded. However, because it was his third reprimand of the season he automatically earns a grid drop.

Mark’s retirement meant the day was “bittersweet” for Team Principal Christian Horner.

“It was a phenomenal performance by Sebastian,” he said. “It was one of his strongest ever drives, particularly after the safety car came out halfway through the race. It wasn’t the best moment for us and after that, Seb needed to pull out a gap of 27 seconds. He pulled out 30 seconds in 15 laps, at times lapping over two seconds quicker than the rest of the field; it was incredible to watch and it was a thoroughly deserved and really dominant victory today.

“There was huge frustration for Mark,” he added. “After two hours of driving really well we could see with 12 laps to go that we began to lose water pressure. The water then effectively ran out at which point it is only a matter of time until the engine overheats, which is what happened on the last lap – it was cruel luck. Nonetheless today is our third successive win and our third consecutive Singapore win, while we’ve extended our lead in the Drivers’ Championship.”

Fourth eventually went to Rosberg, with teammate Hamilton fifth. Felipe Massa was sixth for Ferrari, with the McLarens of Button and Perez seventh and eighth respectively. The final two points places were taken by Sauber’s Hulkenberg and Force India’s Adrian Sutil.

 

Team Reactions

Car 1 Sebastian Vettel, Finish Position: Winner, Start Position: 1st
“It’s just been a fantastic weekend. The start was close, but then we had strong race pace, especially when the safety car came in, and we pushed very hard to try to build up a gap. You never know what’s coming up and what can happen. The last ten laps seemed to go on forever inside the car. I kept my concentration by reminding myself how easily you can make a mistake around here, the walls are close and if you don’t pay enough attention it can go wrong pretty quickly. I focused on hitting the brakes correctly and on saving the tires. We didn’t expect to be that strong, but it’s a team effort. Everyone is pushing hard and I think the secret, if there is one, is that we love what we do and we’re so passionate. The conditions aren’t great here with the heat, but the team always pushes hard and I think that’s what makes the difference. I’d like to say to everyone working for team that it’s a privilege for me to be driving the car you have built."

Car 2 Mark Webber, Finish Position: DNF, Start Position: 4th
“I think I did pretty much everything I could today. We had pace in the car when we needed, we managed the tires and made a very good undercut on Nico, I was really happy with that lap. Then six laps from the end, the guys were getting worried about the car. So, yeah, it’s annoying but someone’s had a tougher day than me somewhere and that’s the way it goes. I was having to short shift, but then, unlike Monza, we started to lose a lot of power. We were just trying to get home at that point but then on the last lap we caught fire.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal
“A really bittersweet result today. It was a phenomenal performance by Sebastian. It was one of his strongest ever drives, particularly after the safety car came out halfway through the race. It wasn’t the best moment for us and after that, Seb needed to pull out a gap of 27 seconds. He pulled out 30 seconds in 15 laps, at times lapping over two seconds quicker than the rest of the field; it was incredible to watch and it was a thoroughly deserved and really dominant victory today. There was huge frustration for Mark that after two hours of driving really well we could see with 12 laps to go that we began to lose water pressure. The water then effectively ran out at which point it is only a matter of time until the engine overheats, which is what happened on the last lap – it was cruel luck. Nonetheless today is our third successive win and our third consecutive Singapore win, while we’ve extended our lead in the Drivers’ Championship.”

Thierry Salvi (Renault)
“Sebastian had fantastic pace today. He controlled the race from the beginning to the end. Mark retired following a water leak about five laps from the end. We tried everything, including short shifting, to get to the end of the race, but we came up just short and the engine overheated within sight of the line. The whole team did a great job this weekend, showing the potential of the Red Bull-Renault chassis/engine package yet again. Apologies to Mark, as he deserved more after such a strong race.”

 

 

 

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Issued by Nissan