By Pete Vack
Photos courtesy and copyright Ferrari Media
If there is one thing we will remember about Singapore 2012, it will not be the great drive by Massa, not the winning excellence of Vettel, not the intelligent drive by Alonso for third, nor the sudden race-changing retirements of both Hamilton and Maldonado, nor that the race was foreshortened by the clock. No, what will be recalled, sadly, is that for the second time in a row, at the same venue, at almost the same place, seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher again ran into the rear of another car, in this case young Vergne’s STR Ferrari. “The car would not degenerate,” said Schumacher afterward. Watching his second career unfold has often been heartbreaking, but now it is just car breaking.
At this point of the season, in many respects the old order, recently threatened by a surge of talented upstarts, has been restored; initial dominance of the McLaren with both Hamilton and Button, Vettel again scoring big, Ferrari still leading the world championship if not the constructor’s points, the reigning and ex-champions reining in the youngsters and their off-brand machines who pose a very real threat to the ensconced teams. In the top ten finishers; Di Reste 4th, Grosjean 7th, and Ricciardo 9th were the new guys on the block who all did well but were not an immediate threat to the establishment. Give them time.
Once the experience of a night race has worn off…and it is spectacular…the ambiance decreases, leaving only a vision of neon hotels and a lit-white cement ribbon with slot cars. Perhaps that’s one reason the Singapore Grand Prix is hard for the mind to grasp on to. It most certainly was an exciting event; wall banging racing at its finest. Perhaps this is why only the very best and experienced filled the eight other positions in the top ten. The safety car came out twice, once for the Karthikeyan wall bender and the second time for Schumacher’s rear-ender. This bundled the pack up and made things exciting throughout the entire 2 hour time frame. To run the called-for 61 laps would have made the race run over the FIA/TV 2 hour time limit for the event.
Tire wear, while potentially a real issue here, was not. The leaders of the pack all decided to play the same tire strategy game, using the ultra-soft reds for the first ten laps, switching at about the same time to the harder yellows, then changing tires once more but all staying on the harder yellows to the end of the race. Safety car time also made the pit stops less crucial. In the end, most of the top runners were even up; only Massa and Webber played a different hand, but Webber still could only manage tenth.
A further mention for Massa: driving from the back of the grid; he made his way through the field, by lap 35 he was 16th, by lap 43 he was 10th, and proceeded to pass Senna for 9th, then Riccardo for 8th, where he finished on the red Supersoft compound, a superb drive under tough conditions with the still-difficult Ferrari chassis. There is still no word on his future with Ferrari however. Hopefully, Ferrari managers will recall about Singapore, not Schumacher-but Massa. Time will tell.
|4||DI RESTA||Force India-Mercedes||+ 19.0s|
|14||HULKENBERG||Force India-Mercedes||+ 99.4s|
|17||DE LA ROSA||HRT-Cosworth||+ 1 lap|
|18||SENNA||Williams-Renault||+ 2 laps|
|19||PETROV||Caterham-Renault||+ 2 laps|
|20||VERGNE||STR-Ferrari||+ 21 laps, accident|
|21||SCHUMACHER||Mercedes||+ 21 laps, accident|
|22||MALDONADO||Williams-Renault|| + 23 laps, hydraulics|
|23||KARTHIKEYAN||HRT-Cosworth||+ 29 laps, accident|
|24||HAMILTON||McLaren-Mercedes||+ 37 laps, gearbox|
Note: De la Rosa, Senna dropped five grid spots for unscheduled gearbox changes. Pic had 20s added to race time for passing under red in FP3. Webber had 20s added for gaining advantage off track, dropping him from P10 to P11.
Driver’s Championship Standings
|11||DI RESTA||Force India-Mercedes||44 Points|
|14||HULKENBERG||Force India-Mercedes||31 Points|
Constructor’s Championship Standings
|7||FORCE INDIA-MERCEDES||75 Points|