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Singapore race analysis - title contenders take a back seat 28 Sep 2009

The podium (L to R): Timo Glock (GER) Toyota, second; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, race winner; Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 (L to R): Tadashi Yamashina (JPN) Toyota F1 Chairman and John Howett (GBR) President of Toyota F1 celebrate second position for Timo Glock (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault celebrates with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001 celebrates at the end of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 crashed out of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 27 September 2009

After 61 punishing laps of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the podium featured not one team or driver in the running for the 2009 championship. Instead it was McLaren, Toyota, and Renault celebrating. However, Jenson Button and Brawn left Singapore quietly satisfied, the former having extended his championship lead to 15 points, the latter having all but wrapped up the constructors’ crown with three rounds remaining. We take a team-by-team look at Sunday's race...

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, P7

Hamilton had to disengage and reboot his KERS system after the telemetry suggested a possible impending glitch, but otherwise his MP4-24 performed faultlessly as he controlled the race throughout and stormed to a superb victory that made amends for his crash on the final lap at Monza. Kovalainen was completely overshadowed, but his seventh place brought McLaren’s score to 12 points for their evening’s work and brings them within three points of Ferrari.

Toyota
Timo Glock, P2
Jarno Trulli, P12

Why is it that every time Toyota score a good result it seems to have been through unobtrusive endeavour? Glock was not quite quick enough to run with the three early leaders, but was always in contention for a podium after Rosberg’s pit-exit error. Second was well deserved, and may prove crucial in determining Toyota’s future. Poor old Trulli felt lousy with flu all weekend, lost out to the safety car, and struggled for traction all evening.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P3
Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 3, brakes

Alonso was delighted with Renault’s first podium of the season, and it certainly could not have come at a better time for the beleaguered team. Grosjean was unable to make any progress, as persistent brake problems brought him retirement after only three laps.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel P4
Mark Webber, Retired lap 46, brakes

Vettel was a podium contender right up until the moment he went pit lane speeding on the 38th lap. At times bits fell off his RB5, notably the right-hand mirror, and later he reported that the car was on the limit with its brakes, so he had to lift early and baby them, especially after Webber’s demise on the 46th lap when his failed dramatically. The Australian met trouble early after a great outside pass on Alonso was negated when he was instructed by the stewards to hand places back to the Spaniard and to Glock, dropping from an initial fourth to sixth.

Brawn
Jenson Button, P5
Rubens Barrichello, P6

Both drivers had good opening laps, as Barrichello planned to run a shorter first stint than Button. That all went to plan as the safety car spoiled the latter’s longer run strategy. Later, however, the Brazilian had a problem engaging neutral in his second stop on lap 46. Button, fuelled five laps longer and the fastest man out there at one point in the final stages, was able to sprint by to take fifth place. He hounded Vettel for a while, closing to within 1.5s, before brake consideration obliged Brawn to tell their drivers to back off. Button did, Barrichello didn’t, but the Englishman had enough in hand by the flag and extended his world championship lead by a point as Brawn moved further ahead of Red Bull.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, P8
Nick Heidfeld, Retired lap 20, hit by Sutil

Heidfeld’s race was compromised long before the start when his F1.09 was found to be fractionally underweight. Since they were obliged to start from the pit lane the team opted to change the engine and gearbox, but after an early charge he was the innocent victim when Sutil’s attempt to pass Alguersuari prompted a spin and the Force India driver collected the German’s car. Heidfeld was not amused. Kubica, meanwhile, was always in the fight for a point, even though he lucked out by refuelling just before the safety car. But he also suffered a lot of rear tyre degradation with the untried new rear-end set-up which made the final 10-15 laps of each stint painfully slow. The Pole said afterwards that it was hardest point he ever earned.

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, P9
Nico Rosberg, P11

Oh dear, oh dear! Williams came so near, yet ended up so far after Rosberg slid over the white line on the exit to the pits after his first refuelling stop on the 18th lap. Prior to that he had been keeping Hamilton honest, maintaining hopes that Williams might just be on the cusp of possible victory. That earned him a drive-through, and that was all she wrote. Nakajima pushed Kubica hard for the final point at the end, but was also having to fend off a hungry Raikkonen, so a day that promised much ended in huge disappointment.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, P10
Giancarlo Fisichella, P13

The lack of ongoing development of Ferrari’s elegant F60 becomes more apparent with each race, and both Raikkonen and Fisichella struggled all weekend here. The Finn reported that he was sliding all over the place on the softer rubber in his final stint. The Italian looked hopeless as he fumbled round at the back, the Ferrari dream turning more to nightmare.

Force India
Tonio Liuzzi, P14
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap 23, accident damage and brake problems

Sutil became very frustrated when he was trapped behind Alguersuari and it was only a matter of time before it ended in tears. On the 20th lap he snagged the right rear of the Toro Rosso, spun, and collected an angry Heidfeld. Subsequently, after a stop for repairs, he retired with brake problems. Liuzzi almost made it past the Fisichella road block, but had to back off when the older Italian moved over and they touched. He was way quicker than the Ferrari in his first two stints, but in the third on the supersoft Bridgestone he suffered graining rears and lost any chance of maintaining his challenge.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P16, not classified
Jaime Alguersuari, P15, not classified

Buemi ran quite strongly until tyre degradation reared its ugly head. Later, in his second pit stop he did not get any fuel, necessitating a third stop until a gearbox problem brought him to a halt in the pits just as Alguersuari was also calling it a day. The Spaniard had headed the tail-end train until he was assaulted by Sutil, and later stopped with brake issues.