Septemebr 26th, 2012 (F1plus / Chitra Subramanyam).-
The Singapore Screwdriver
It was the 58th lap and Bruno Senna came to a complete standstill. I threw my hands up in the air and shouted, “For crying out loud.” Pardon my frustration, but I was exhausted. Two hours of racing, much of it behind the safety car, had left me slumped in my chair. There’s also only that much a fan can take, if you get my drift.
Sebastian Vettel climbed on to the podium, grinning ear to ear and waving that finger. I gnawed on my cellphone. And then, with a deep sigh, kowtowed once again to that mercurial grand lady we call Lady Luck. She has been toying with us this entire season, isn’t it? So, it just about makes sense that I dedicate this post to her. After all, methinks Lady Luck downed one too many Screwdrivers and did an Eeny, Meeny Miny Moe. Just look at the drivers she favoured:
The Finger Once Again
I would like Vettel; really, I would. If only he would stop pointing his finger at me on television. But I guess there was reason for jubilation (still not reason enough to show the finger). He did win the Singapore Grand Prix. He did just about give Fernando Alonso the scare of his life – closing in like that on Championship points. And yes, I know, he did run a strong race. But do consider too that the Singapore street circuit greatly favours the Red Bull car. Then there was that bit about Lady Luck giving Lewis Hamilton a… you get my drift.
So, the Qualifying turned out to be a big pain for Alonso, as he ended up 5th on the grid. But wait a minute, Lady Luck said, taking a gigantic sip of her Screwdriver, red’s my favourite colour. And so Alonso landed himself a 3rd spot on the podium. It had a lot to do with Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado’s retirement. He said so himself, while speaking to F1.com. “In the end, it went well, but we definitely can’t go on like this.
It can’t always be the case that my closest rival retires, as has happened in the last two races, and we can’t think of carrying on to the end of the season with qualifying sessions like yesterday’s, when our performance was almost a second off the best,” he said. And going by the madness 2012 has been, Ferrari better start taking notes and coming up with a viable solution.
Alonso drove superbly, but the exits of Hamilton and Maldonado aid to his case for the championship.
There’s only that much Alonso can do. It doesn’t matter how brilliant he may be. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa’s performance was yet another indication that Lady Luck favoured Ferrari. There was strange wiggle he did to swing past Bruno. Then there was dealing with a slashed rear tyre courtesy Vitaly Petrov. But he came into his own, grabbing a well-deserved, fought-for, 8th.
The Ice Man Cometh
Yes. It is time to talk about Kimi Raikkonen. I do have a soft spot for him. He is just adorable, isn’t he? It helps too that he returned from a two-year retirement to jump right into the F1 circus, without so much as an “excuse me”. Instead, he has given much grief to the others and wangled a 3rd spot in the Championship. This, after coming a disappointing 6th in the race. It has a lot to do with a certain Brit falling completely foul of Lady Luck. But more of that later.
The surprise of the evening though has to be Paul di Resta. The 26-year-old Scotsman comes from a lineage of sportsmen (His cousin is Indy car racer Dario Franchitti) and defeated Vettel in F3 in 2006 (I had to put that in). The Singapore Grand Prix saw him shine, as he raced a mature race coming in just a few seconds behind Alonso. I think talent had as much of a say in this result as Lady Luck. He is definitely a racer to watch. This position has now pushed Force India past Williams and into the 7th spot of the Constructor’s standings.
At the end
There were many hurrahs, but there were just as many groans and face-to-palm episodes. I know. I was slapping my forehead so many times; I left a palm print there. I don’t even know where to start. So, I guess I should just plunge in.Hamilton was the first on Lady Luck’s ignore list. He was running such a strong race, staying ahead of Vettel and giving the young German a tough time. Then it happened. It was the 19th lap and Lewis came to a complete standstill, courtesy a gearbox failure. His teammate Jenson Button was all set to challenge Vettel, but lacked the pace even as he struggled with the tyres.
Hamilton getting back to pits after retiring from the race (LAt Photo)
Button did finish 2nd, bringing in important points for the team. But needless to say, the pain of Hamilton’s DNF overshadowed the joy of his finish. Then, there was Michael Schumacher who rear-ended Jean-Eric Vergne. Yes, you read right. I was stunned too, for all my angsty, anti Schuey talk. Schumacher has now been awarded a 10-place grid penalty at Suzuka. Then, there were the Williams. Another DNF blotted Maldonado’s season. But no crashes this time. Instead, the team withdrew his car from the race because of a hydraulic issue.
Bruno meanwhile spent the better half of the weekend fighting the wall. He was pushed down the grid after an illegal gearbox change and started the race at the 22nd position. Despite that, he ran a strong race, climbing up steadily to reach the 9th spot, at one point. He fought several battles, especially a memorable one with Massa, and also set the fastest lap at a stage. But he retired with one lap to go after a suspected KERS issue.
It was without a doubt, a race Lady Luck decided needed to be different. Next up is the legendary Suzuka, a classic figure-8 circuit. The battle for the championship is now underway, even as racers fight to prove themselves, and in some cases, keep their seat for the next season. Meanwhile, Lady Luck is settling down with her bottle of saki and Suzuka is readying itself for our gladiators. The race is on…