Another race, another shake up on the championship leaderboard. However, as unpredictable as the races have been, a pattern is emerging - Alonso on podium. Alonso may not win the number one spot, but he somehow always manages to get on to the podium.
How did it go down at the Singapore GP? It started with qualifying: Hamilton, after a perfect flying lap, landed the pole position. Trailing behind Hamilton in qualifying was Maldonado the Dangerous, then Vettel. Notice that Alonso is not even top 3 in Qualifying; he was P5.
With Maldonado's record, I was expecting a good battle at the front part of the grid at the start of the race. Hamilton defended his pole from Maldonado and got a clean getaway, while Vettel's slick maneuver got him ahead of Maldonado, and then Button also took a run on Maldonado and passed the Williams driver to take the 3rd position. It is as if a different Maldonado was in the Williams car altogether; where is his usual aggressive drive?
The Marina Bay Street circuit is notoriously difficult track to overtake - a car needs to be a few seconds ahead to overtake, which means tyres and pit stop strategy were paramount in giving a driver the advantage to get ahead. With 61 laps in the race, the most sensible way to manage is a two-stop strategy, which most cars opted for. In terms of tyres, the soft was more durable than the supersoft so most teams were trying to get the drivers to squeeze as much drive as possible from the soft tyres.
Hamilton's pit stop at lap 13 was incredibly fast at 2.9 sec, paired with his quick pace throughout the laps, he looked unbeatable in winning the race. However, it was not his day. In an unlikely turn of events, Hamilton's McLaren had a gearbox failure at lap 23, leaving him with a car but no drive. I would have thrown a hissy fit, but Hamilton handled it with unusual calmness, perhaps he was thinking this is a sign for him to leave McLaren and move to Mercedes.
Shortly after Hamilton's gutting moment, Maldonado's car also suffered an untimely end at lap 35. It's most unfortunate to see two cars that were on front rows on the grid that would likely battle out to the bitter end both retire early.
As most anticipated, the safety car made not one, but two, appearances at the Singapore GP. The safety car came out at Lap 34 when Karthikeyan crashed out, and at Lap 40 when Schumacher crashed into Vergne. The safety car rounds took quite a while, such that the race timed out and concluded at the 2-hour mark rather than completion of 61 laps.
Without a truly heated battle up at the front with Hamilton and Maldonado out, we end the race with Vettel, Button, and Alonso moving into podium for top 3. Alonso still leads the championship with Vettel now trailing in 2nd and Raikkonen in 3rd place. Who did you think will have the best drive at the Japanese GP on October 7th?