Singapore Grand Prix 2008 – As it happened

What happened to track requirements Berni?

Silverstone, with broad runoffs, soft tyre walls, and vastly improved facilities doesn’t make the grade from 2010 but somehow Singapore with its limited to no runoff, hard concrete barriers topped by crash fencing, and dangerously dazzling lighting makes it in to the F1 circuits list.  Oh, I forgot, it is all about money these days, forget the driver safety we just need cash in the wallet and international viewing figures.

I’ll be posting thoughts through the race here as they come to me…

LAP 15 – Nelsinho Piquet’s crashed.  His car spins into an unyielding concrete barrier and he is trapped on the track by the crash fencing.  He climbs from the car and after desperately searching for a way through the fence has to run across the track on the exit of turn 10 to reach a hole in the fence.  I thought it looked like bad design at the start, but this is lousy design.  His car has left debris all over the exit, and no marshals can easily reach it to clear the wreckage or sweep up the shards of carbon fiber!  This shows the danger of safety fencing, in an emergency the driver can be disorientated and can’t find a way out.  It also shows the danger of concrete barriers which don’t absorb energy and transmit the shock directly to the car and driver.

LAP 17 – Cars are running out of fuel and several drivers have had to take to the pitlane early risking penalties.  The officials have opened the pitlane and a horde of drivers are rushing in.  This chaos leads to more excitement in the pits as Massa has just torn off the fuel hose, and thrown a Ferrari mechanic down the pit space.  The gantry lights went green, notifying the driver to launch, then immediately flicked back to red.  Unfortunately for Massa the fuel line was still connected and a car was alongside him.  This looks like a dangerous failure in the normally unflappable Ferrari pit.  Hopefully the Ferrari mechanic thrown to the ground by the heavy (and spraying the last drips of fuel) hose is okay.

LAP 19 – The safety car has gone in and as the cars roar back to full speed we see another danger in this hazard strewn circuit.  The glossy green paint used to line the outside of corners is immensely slippery and the cars are visibly sliding wide if they come into contact,  It looks even more dangerous than wet grass as the paint is normally alongside the concrete barrier!  The dangers of street circuits also include any debris and chemicals ditched onto the road surface during its normal use, plus all the regular lines and cats eyes.  Mix that with the temporary patching of holes, the limited runoff, and the bumps and rises that are not any problem for a road car but can be very rough on a very low and stiff F1 car.  The driver’s complained earlier this week that the track was too bumpy (AFP News)

LAP 23 – The stewards are investigating a number of pitlane incidents, and penatlies could be coming for those who had to fuel early.  Rosberg and Kubica both land 10 second stop go penalties for fuelling, and Massa gets a drive through penalty for his unsafe release from his pitstop.  Is this a new era of F1 where Ferrari get penalised exactly the same way as everyone else?

LAP 29 – Mark Webber is out.  His car comes into the pits and is rolled back into the garage.  We’re just coming up towards half distance.

LAP 31 – Masssa pits and this time Ferrari get it right and remove the fuel hose cleanly.  The question is does he have enough fuel to finish, since we’re only just over half distance and the fuel hose wasn’t connected for that long.  IF he has enough fuel he’ll need to be exceptionally lucky to make up enough places to get ahead of Hamilton and take the lead in the championship.  Another question now is will we run out of time for the race?  It looks like we could be breaking the 2 hour limit at this rate.

LAP 42 – Alonso pits for the last time.  Just over 7 seconds, and he exits just ahead of Coulthard in 3rd.  In the ducking and weaving between Coulthard and Alonso, Lewis Hamilton siezes the opportunity and passes Coulthard.  Unfortunately Hamilton still has a stop to make, but even with that stop he could still make a podium finish.

LAP 43 – Both Hamilton and Coulthard pit at the same time.  Coulthard suffers a fuel rig issue and tries to exit the pit with the fuel line attached.  He luckily stops before ripping it off.  The lollipop man (the guy who raises the sign to signal the driver to leave) made the mistake and twitched too soon.  Hamilton maintains the track position ahead of Coulthard.

LAP 48 – Things settle down a bit, and apart from brakes starting to overheat it looks like we’ll be in for some good racing to the finish.

LAP 50 – 11 laps to go and Sutil has gone nose into one of the tiny “water walls” .  The safety car is out, and flames lick around the spokes of the front wheels from the red hot brakes.  The replays show Massa spinning the rear of the car into the water wall and just managing to get away before a distracted Sutil slides nose into.  Are these more examples of the failing brakes?  This overheating is just another example of the dangers of this street circuit.  As they bunch up behind the safety car we’ll be in for an exciting restart and a sprint to the end!

LAP 53 – The safety car is headed in, so what will happen on the restart?

LAP 57 – Raikkonen bounces off the high kerb in turn 10 and is sent flying into the wall.  The front suspension is smashed and his race is over.  Complaints about the height of the kerbing had been made after the first practice session, and although claims were made that it had been improved the kerb is still dangerously high and the worsed case scenario  suggested by Hamilton after the practice has occured.  What a terrible day for Ferrari.

LAP 61 – Alonso wins, after all the problems he’s faced recently this is a deserved win.  The safety car definitely played into these results, and hopefully the FIA will force Singapore to improve the design and safety features of the circuit before allowing any more races on this track.  The drivers were exceptionally lucky that there were no more serious incidents.

Result

  1. F Alonso (Renault)
  2. N Rosberg (Williams)
  3. L Hamilton (McLaren)
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