Well, what can we say? The remaining races will mostly be a formality, and we're not just putting that on paper hoping for the commentator's curse to set in. As sure as Sebastian Vettel will get heckled on the podium every time he takes the top step and flashes The Finger, he has the drivers' trophy pretty much stashed in his creaking display cabinet. This season is slowly trumping his 2011 campaign, in which he took 11 wins on the way to title number two. What's worse (unless you're a huge Vettel fan), with seven victories in 2013 and six races left to run, he's got a good chance of matching--or even beating--that career-best victories-per-season tally of his.
If that thought makes you queasy, we enjoin you to adopt this mantra: "Alonso and Raikkonen in 2014. Alonso and Raikkonen in 2014. Alonso and Raikkonen in 2014." This domination, too, shall pass. But for now, here's how our predictions for Singapore turned out.
1. Saturday predictions: Vettel on P1, Alonso on P6. Felipe "Fernando-Is-Not-Faster-Than-Me" Massa did prove he can be quicker than his teammate on occasion, costing us half a point by demoting Fernando to P7 on Saturday. Thing is, the Spaniard started the race on the grippier side of the circuit, then found himself cruising on what was ridiculously akin to a US freeway's carpool lane down to turn one!
He proceeded to give a master class on how to perfectly hit your brakes with a full load of fuel--something Nico Rosberg would do well to study. The Mercedes driver actually managed to inch ahead of the reigning world champion off the line, but he went too deep into the first corner and relinquished the lead in far less time it took you to read this sentence.
2. We will see a dry race with at least one safety-car period. Dry race, check. Safety car, check. And ironically, the SLS AMG cost at least one of its fellow star-badged Silver Arrows a podium finish, albeit indirectly--the bigger blame lies in the Mercedes pit wall for a strategy error.
See, when Daniel Ricciardo's shunt into the barriers triggered the safety-car period on Lap 25, the Ferraris and Kimi Raikkonen were among those who pitted, with the aim of making their boots last until the end of the race. They rejoined behind the two Red Bulls and the two Mercs, who chose to stay out. Of those four cars, only Sebastian Vettel did not lose out to those who'd pitted--because upon the safety car's withdrawal at the end of lap 30, he was given the rare instruction to put a pit stop's worth of time to the cars behind. Some 10 laps later, he was so far gone that the others probably thought he was halfway to the next race venue in Korea.
3. More of the Singapore specials: collisions and gearbox failures. We got a couple of self-inflicted crashes care of Ricciardo and Paul di Resta. As for gearbox failures, Mark Webber's Monza short-shifting problems resurfaced along with (or as a result of) a loss of water pressure, leading to his retirement on the last lap of the race. We'll take that full point if you don't mind.
And here's something to debate on: During his in lap after taking the checkered flag, Fernando stopped on Turn 7 to give his stranded buddy a ride back to the pits. Such instances of hitchhiking are greatly appreciated by fans. The stewards, however, gave both drivers a reprimand for: 1) running onto a "live track" without the marshals' permission (Webber); and 2) stopping at a dangerous part of the circuit--a blind corner--and causing other cars to take avoiding action (Alonso). This being Webber's third reprimand of the year, he automatically gets a 10-place grid penalty for the next race. Fair or not?
4. Force India will continue to have a pointless campaign. Paul di Resta's trip into the barriers gave us a lot of hope for this guess since he was the Force India in the points at that time. But when Webber's engine decided it wanted to retire ahead of the veteran Aussie, Adrian Sutil was promoted from 11th to 10th. Goddamn.
5. Mercedes and Webber will move up one spot in the standings. What did we say about sure-looking things turning out to be dirty paper bags blown right in your face? Ferrari's strategy gamble allowed the team to retain--and even slightly increase--its lead over Mercedes in the constructors' battle. Meanwhile, even if Webber's car had stayed intact until the end of the race, Kimi would've still kept his fourth place in the standings, thanks to a brilliant recovery drive--despite a sore back at that--from P13 to P3.
Such performances as the ones we've seen from him and Alonso in Singapore really make this otherwise uneventful season a touch more bearable, because they promise so much for 2014. Six more races until then, starting with the Korean Grand Prix in two weeks' time.
Total score: 2.5 out of 5 (quite a relief that we did better than this bird, at least)
Photos from Infiniti Red Bull Racing
|SIN||Starting grid||Race results|
|Pos||Driver (Team)||Quali (Start tire)||Driver (Team)||Time/Gap|
|1||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1:42.841 (SS)||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1hr 59:13.132|
|2||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||1:42.932, +0.091 (SS)||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||+32.627|
|3||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||1:43.058, +0.217 (SS)||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||+43.920|
|4||M. Webber (Red Bull)||1:43.152, +0.311 (SS)||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||+51.155|
|5||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1:43.254, +0.413 (SS)||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||+53.159|
|6||F. Massa (Ferrari)||1:43.890, +1.049 (SS)||F. Massa (Ferrari)||+1:03.877|
|7||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||1:43.938, +1.097 (SS)||J. Button (McLaren)||+1:23.354|
|8||J. Button (McLaren)||1:44.282, +1.441 (SS)||S. Perez (McLaren)||+1:23.820|
|9||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||1:44.439, +1.598 (SS)||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||+1:24.261|
|10||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||no time set||A. Sutil (Force India)||+1:24.688|
|11||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||1:44.555, +1.650 (SS)||P. Maldonado (Williams)||+1:28.479|
|12||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||1:44.588, +1.683 (SS)||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||+1:37.894|
|13||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||1:44.658, +1.753 (SS)||V. Bottas (Williams)||+1:45.161|
|14||S. Perez (McLaren)||1:44.752, +1.847 (SS)||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||+1:53.512|
|15||A. Sutil (Force India)||1:45.185, +2.280 (M)||M. Webber (Red Bull)||retired|
|16||V. Bottas (Williams)||1:45.388, +2.483 (SS)||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||+1 lap|
|17||P. di Resta (Force India)||1:46.121, +1.925 (SS)||M. Chilton (Marussia)||+1 lap|
|18||P. Maldonado (Williams)||1:46.619, +2.423 (SS)||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||+1 lap|
|19||C. Pic (Caterham)||1:48.111, +3.915 (SS)||C. Pic (Caterham)||+1 lap|
|20||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||1:48.320, +4.124 (SS)||P. di Resta (Force India)||retired|
|21||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||1:48.830, +4.634 (SS)||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||retired|
|22||M. Chilton (Marussia)||1:48.930, +4.734 (SS)||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||retired|
Notes: M—medium compound; SS—supersoft compound. Listed qualifying laps 17-22 set in Q1; 11-16 in Q2; and 1-10 in Q3. M. Webber and P. di Resta did not finish the race, but were classified because they completed 90% of the race distance.
|1||S. Vettel||222||Red Bull||352|
|6||N. Rosberg||104||Force India||61|
|7||F. Massa||79||Toro Rosso||31|
|10||P. di Resta||36||Marussia||0|
|21||G. van der Garde||0|