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Hamilton Produces Faultless Drive to Take Victory in Singapore

September 27, 2009

Lewis Hamilton produced a faultless drive in an eventful Singapore Grand Prix this afternoon, turning pole into victory, while Jenson Button extended his lead in the drivers’ championship to teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Hamilton made the perfect getaway from pole, leading third-place starter Nico Rosberg into the first corner. Despite problems with KERS, the McLaren driver led for all but four laps, which were led by Fernando Alonso during the Brit’s second stop in Singapore’s sensational night race at the Marina Bay circuit.

Having got past second-place starter Sebastian Vettel heading into the first corner, Rosberg kept the gap to Hamilton down to three seconds in the first stint, with both drivers, and the Red Bull of Vettel pulling away from fourth place man Timo Glock.

Hamilton pitted for his first stop after Vettel and Rosberg, and he rejoined the track with a comfortable lead, not long before the safety car was deployed following a collision between Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld, after the former spun trying to hunt down Jaime Alguersuari. The shunt, which was avoidable on Sutil’s part as he tried to rejoin the track, was investigated after the race resulting in a $20,000 fine for the German.

At the restart, Hamilton started to pull away from Rosberg, but when the latter dived into the pits to serve a drive-through penalty, it was Vettel who began to put pressure on the McLaren driver, closing the gap to half a second.

Hamilton said: “It was a very very tough race, I think I can speak for all of us. Conditions made it very tough but it was pretty straightforward for me. I knew I was longer than the guys around me so all I had to do was keep Vettel behind me. I felt I drove quite a nicely controlled race.”

Rosberg had been looking set for second place, until a slip up exiting the pitlane after his first stop saw him cross the white line, subsequently penalising him with a drive-through penalty. Shortly after it was issued the safety car was deployed, and the young German’s hopes to serve the penalty and get back out in the points scoring positions was crushed, and he finished in 11th.

It seemed second place wasn’t to be for Vettel either, as he too was issued with a drive-through penalty after speeding in the pitlane during his second stop. However, Vettel was able to keep on the pace and after everyone else had made their second stops, he finished in fourth ahead of championship leader Button.

With penalties robbing Rosberg and Vettel of second place, it was Timo Glock who came through to finish second, with Fernando Alonso in third.

Mark Webber lost out on the opening lap, after an illegal pass on Alonso meant he had to give up his fourth place to Glock to be able to let Alonso back through, putting him back down to sixth. Glock, who had started sixth, had already passed Alonso for fifth when Webber was told to let both drivers through. It was the start of a miserable race for the Aussie driver, who had qualified fourth, as he was the first of several drivers to have problems with his brakes, with them failing shortly after his second stop, sending him spinning into the tyre wall at the end of the start/finish straight.

Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari was the next to retire with brake problems, and it was touch and go for Button as his right-front brake appeared to be under pressure, and while closing down on Vettel in the final stint he was told to back off and just bring his Brawn home.

Despite the safety car messing up Button’s strategy, a charge in the second stint had enabled him to leapfrog Heikki Kovalainen and Brawn teammate Barrichello at his second stop, and the championship leader finished fifth, extending his lead to Rubens but one point in the championship. Barrichello finished in sixth ahead of Kovalainen, with Robert Kubica rounding off the points scorers.

Webber’s DNF almost certainly means his hopes for taking the title are over, and with Vettel 25 points adrift from Button, it is looking unlikely for him too. With just three races left to go, Button has a 15 point advantage over Barrichello, with it looking like it is the Briton’s to lose.

The constructors’ championship looks likely to be Brawn’s, with Red Bull taking second. But with three points in it between Ferrari and McLaren, the only real fight in the constructors’ battle is for third. Ferrari leave Singapore having had a miserable weekend, with both Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella failing to impress in qualifying, and finishing out of the points in 10th and 13th respectively.

 

F1 returns to Suzuka next weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix, with qualifying on Saturday 3rd, and the race live on BBC One at 6am on Sunday 4th October.

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