#F1 Race Review: Vettel On Another Planet

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor James Parker

Singapore 2013 Podium

Sebastian Vettel took an extremely dominant victory underneath the lights of Singapore, and essentially sealed his grip on the WDC as he went 60 points clear of Alonso at the head of the championship. Second was the Ferrari of Alonso to make it a Vettel-Alonso 1-2 in last 3 races, whilst Kimi Raikkonen put in a stellar drive to come from 13th on the grid to capture the final podium place in 3rd.

The Race

Off the start both Vettel and Rosberg made good getaways, with the Mercedes man showing his nose up the inside of Vettel into turn 1. However Rosberg could got get the front end turned in and had to settle for 2nd.

Alonso in the Ferrari made yet another trademark electric start, hanging it all out round the outside and jumping straight up to 3rd place. Grosjean dropped to fifth when he also lost out to Webber. Massa and Hamilton further back had a nice little fight through turn 4 and 5, with Hamilton climbing up to 6th, muscling his way past the Ferrari man round the outside.

However as the pack came round for lap 2, Hamilton was notified over the radio that he would have to give 6th back to Massa for passing whilst exceeding the track limits.

Up front it looked all too easy for runaway leader Vettel. By lap 8 his lead over Rosberg was already 8 seconds and by that time the German looked to have entered “tyre conservation mode” highlighting his dominance over the rest of the field.

It was as early as lap 11 that the first pitstop phase began, with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen coming in early on to the super soft compound in order to find some clean air from 11th. Rejoining in 17th place, he was brought back out into some clean air and could start to force the hand of those fighting towards the tail end of the top 10.

Both Alonso and Webber decided to opt for early first stops, with the Ferrari man reacting to Webber’s stop by pitting one lap later on lap 15. This however did not work out too nicely for Alonso, as he rejoined behind the longer running Di Resta and was then starting to get backed right up into the path of Webber and Grosjean and Hamilton who had jumped Massa for 6th during the pitstops.

It was lap 21 before the Force India of Di Resta pitted for the first time and this then finally released Alonso to chase down 2nd place man Rosberg.

At every Singapore Grand Prix since it’s debut there has been a safety car at some point during the race, and on lap 25 the Torro Rosso of Ricciardo made sure that 100% record continued. Going into the ultra slow turn 18, Ricciardo locked his front left and ended up nestling his car into barriers at low speed.

The safety car deployment triggered a flurry of activity in the pitlane, and everyone in the top 10 bar the first four on the road (Vettel, Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton) decided to come into the pitlane, with Alonso and Raikkonen leading the charge of the runners on fresh tyres.

The safety car period lasted 6 laps, after the two Marussia’s were given the time to rejoin the back of the crocodile, and the race resumed on lap 31. It was here that we heard Vettel’s race engineer come over the radio and tell the German he could unleash the full potential of the RB9 and use up the tyres – signifying they were aiming to get a pitstop in their pocket.

Vettel shot down the road like a scolded cat, lapping upwards of 2 seconds per lap faster than anyone else in the field.

5th place man Grosjean was having a very solid race, hanging on to the coat tails of 4th place man Hamilton nicely. However on lap 34, he was given the bad news that an emergency pitstop was needed due to a compressed air problem from within the engine. A lengthy trip in the pits followed and the Lotus man had to retire 4 laps later – a very unhappy Frenchman indeed.

It was lap 41 that the first four decided to start pitting for their 2nd stops – having not done so during the safety car. Webber was first to blink, with Rosberg and Hamilton pitting 1 and 3 laps later. The Red Bull man pulled off a brilliant out lap and appeared ahead of Rosberg, whilst Hamilton had to settle in behind his team-mate.

This promoted the longer runners, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen and Perez to 2nd,3rd, 4th and 5th, supposedly meaning Webber and the two Mercedes drivers would have to pass them on the road to get on to the podium.

By lap 53, 3rd place man Button, who was clinging on to the hope of claiming the first podium for McLaren this season, was really struggling with tyre wear and Raikkonen could smell blood. Behind Webber and co were really starting to motor, and made mincemeat of both Guttierez and Hulk before setting about chasing Perez.

Sensing those behind making progress, Raikkonen made a fantastic lunge down the outside of Button into turn 15, and made it stick to take 3rd. This gave him the clear breathing space ahead of Webber that he desperately needed.

Both McLaren’s dropped like stones down the field towards the tail end of the top 10 as the medium compound tyres simply gave up, whilst Di Resta who looked set for a solid 7th place finish, locked up going into turn 4 on lap 56 and retired from the Grand Prix – his 3rd retirement in 3 races.

Webber’s rapid progress up to the back of Raikkonen started to fade in the last 3 laps, as the Red Bull team told the Australian to short shift to protect both engine and gearbox. Falling back into the clutches of both Rosberg and Hamilton, he finally succumbed to engine failure going into turn 4 on the final lap of the race – a podium so close yet so far for the Red Bull man.

This left Rosberg and Hamilton to claim 4th and 5th behind an inspiring drive from Raikkonen, Alonso and a completely rampant Vettel who was simply in a completely different league today.

It was a race which was dominated by the split strategies defined by the mid race safety car, with Alonso and Raikkonen both having to manage their tyres on 36 and 34 lap stints on the medium compounds. It meant the race was slow to get started, but gave way to an enthralling final 10 laps with McLaren so close yet so far from their first podium of the 2013 Formula 1 season.

With Vettel now 60 points clear, he could essentially sit out the next two Grand Prix’s and still comfortably lead the championship – a very bleak picture to view for the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari for sure.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said:Thermal degradation proved to be the limiting factor that the tyres had to overcome today rather than actual wear at Singapore: a race that proved to be just as tough as everyone expected. Both compounds, but in particular the supersoft, showed plenty of durability as well as pace and were the most appropriate choice for this race.

One of the biggest complications is that the race strategy here has to be flexible in order to take into account the length of the race and the potential for safety cars, which ensured once again that the race went to the full two hours. The safety car mixed up the strategies considerably, but while Vettel was in a league of his own, there was an intense tactical battle for the final podium positions behind him. In the closing stages there was plenty of action, with different strategies ensuring a tight battle for the points’ places and several passing manoeuvres on a circuit where it’s not normally so easy to overtake.

Fastest times of the day by compound

Medium  Supersoft Intermediate Wet
First  WEB – 1.49.783  VET – 1.48.574 N/A N/A
Second  HAM – 1.49.916  SUT – 1.49.656 N/A N/A
Third  VET – 1.50.022  VER – 1.50.328 N/A N/A

Longest stint of the race

Medium     36 laps     Perez; Raikkonen; Hulkenberg; Alonso; Button; Gutierrez
Supersoft     22 laps     Di Resta; Vergne
Intermediate     N/A     N/A
Wet     N/A     N/A

Truth-O-Meter

Although it’s always difficult to predict a strategy in Singapore, we suggested a two-stopper was the most likely scenario. We though there could be two options: start on the supersoft, then change to medium on lap 16 and supersoft again on lap 39. An alternative was exactly the same strategy, but using the medium instead of the supersoft during the final stint.

Vettel stuck to this pattern by going onto the medium on lap 17 and using the supersoft for a short final stint from lap 44.

Final Classification

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Red BullRenault 61 1:59:13.132 1 25
2 3 Spain Fernando Alonso Ferrari 61 +32.6 7 18
3 7 Finland Kimi Räikkönen LotusRenault 61 +43.9 13 15
4 9 Germany Nico Rosberg Mercedes 61 +51.1 2 12
5 10 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 61 +51.1 5 10
6 4 Brazil Felipe Massa Ferrari 61 +63.8 6 8
7 5 United Kingdom Jenson Button McLarenMercedes 61 +83.3 8 6
8 6 Mexico Sergio Pérez McLarenMercedes 61 +83.8 14 4
9 11 Germany Nico Hülkenberg SauberFerrari 61 +84.2 11 2
10 15 Germany Adrian Sutil Force IndiaMercedes 61 +84.6 15 1
11 16 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado WilliamsRenault 61 +88.4 18
12 12 Mexico Esteban Gutiérrez SauberFerrari 61 +97.8 10
13 17 Finland Valtteri Bottas WilliamsRenault 61 +105.161 16
14 18 France Jean-Éric Vergne Toro RossoFerrari 61 +113.512 12
15 2 Australia Mark Webber Red BullRenault 60 +1 Lap1 4
16 21 Netherlands Giedo van der Garde CaterhamRenault 60 +1 lap 20
17 23 United Kingdom Max Chilton MarussiaCosworth 60 +1 lap 22
18 22 France Jules Bianchi MarussiaCosworth 60 +1 lap 21
19 20 France Charles Pic CaterhamRenault 60 +1 lap 19
20 14 United Kingdom Paul di Resta Force IndiaMercedes 54 Accident 17
Ret 8 France Romain Grosjean LotusRenault 37 Pneumatics 3
Ret 19 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Toro RossoFerrari 23 Accident 9

Drivers World Championship

2013 Drivers' Championship post-Singapore

Constructors World Championship

2013 Constructors' Championship post-Singapore

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5 responses to “#F1 Race Review: Vettel On Another Planet

  1. great article following an awesome race! so many “fans” on other sites are calling this race boring, save a few laps at the start and end. IMHO, the final lap shootouts had everything to do with the strategy calls in the middle. one merely needs to follow the pitlane thinking and project the end possibilities to enjoy all that F1 has to offer! I rate this race as a 10…
    Max had another great weekend, and finally spanked the monkey on his back – good for him!
    now, for the good stuff. are you kidding me?? 2 to 3 seconds a lap at times over the quickest drivers in the World?? Horner got it wrong when he stated it was ONE of Seb’s finest drives. that was simply a SMACKDOWN lesson on driving and racing I have not seen in decades.
    Wow does not even come close to describing this domination…

  2. Can any of you technically minded people (Somers et al) please explain to me what RB have that the other top teams seem incapable of figuring out for the last four years???

    After all weve had flexi wings, holes in floors, per race engine mappings, suspected ride height adjustments, blown difusers, non recommended tyre pressures

    How can there be any satisfaction in winning when you have a 2 second (and probably more) advantage over your nearest rival……

    • The gap was articifially enlarged, due to the fact that Vettel knew that he had a fresh set of supersofts that the others didn’t have. They were dialled in for a two-stopper from the very start, so he was basically the only one, who could drive the car to potential. Kimi and eyebrows were in tyre-conservation mode all race. Everybody was endlessly told by the team to go slow, while Vettel just said ‘sod it’ and stomped on the ‘loud’ pedal. That’s how many seconds a lap Pirelli cheats us out of by turning most races into a greenpeace memorial eco-run.

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