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How the Singapore Grand Prix will play out
How the Singapore Grand Prix will play out
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Sep 2009   |  8:15 pm GMT  |  50 comments

Lewis Hamilton did the best job of the cars at the front of the field today, with a lap which was two tenths of a second faster than the man in second place, Sebastian Vettel, despite carrying an extra fuel weight penalty of over three tenths, so he was net half a second faster.
Picture 32

Of course we never got to see what Vettel would have done on his second run because Barrichello hit the wall and the session was stopped prematurely.

With all the intricate detail recently about how Renault fixed the result of last year’s race, the subject of safety cars is right at the front of everyone’s minds. We’ve had three accidents so far which have brought out the red flag and if they happened in the race, they would no doubt bring out a safety car. The big unknown is when?

Interestingly right at the back of the grid Tonio Liuzzi is hoping that lightening will strike twice and there will be an early accident – even when it isn’t premeditated -and he has followed what Alonso did last year with an early pit stop, on lap 17. I can’t really see the advantage of that as even if there is a safety car immediately after his stop, he still has plenty of cars in front of him who will be staying out for another ten laps or so, which means that they will be unlikely to pit under the safety car.

At the front everyone has tried to strike a balance between being aggressive for a good grid slot and at the same time having some spare capacity in case of an early safety car. It’s interesting that the teams are much closer together on strategy than they normally are.

Hamilton will go the longest of the front group, but I like the look of Rosberg this weekend. He finished second here last year and the Williams seems to be very fast. Strategy wise he is at a disadvantage to Hamilton, who will be able to look how much fuel his rivals go for and tailor his middle stint length accordingly, but I think Rosberg might fight him for the win and looking at Vettel’s long run pace I think he will too.

It’s Hamilton’s race to lose, but you never know on a street circuit…

Car Weight First stop

1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 660.5 Lap 19
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 651.0 Lap 15/16
3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 657.5 Lap 18
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 654.5 Lap 16/17
5. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 655.5 Lap 17
6. Alonso Renault 658.0 Lap 18
7. Glock Toyota 660.5 Lap 19
8. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 650.0 Lap 14/15
9. Kubica BMW-Sauber 664.0 Lap 22
10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 664.5 Lap 22
11. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 680.7 Lap 27
12. Button Brawn-Mercedes 683.0 Lap 28/29
13. Raikkonen Ferrari 680.5 Lap 27
14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 678.0 Lap 26
15. Trulli Toyota 690.9 Lap 30
16. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 693.0 Lap 31
17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 683.5 Lap 28
18. Fisichella Ferrari 678.5 Lap 25/26
19. Grosjean Renault 683.0 Lap 28/29
20. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 656.0 Lap 17

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I” confused. I thought that Renault was to be suspended for two years yet there is speculation as to who will be driving for them next year. Can someone edify me please? Thank you.


the last red flag apart from Malaysia was Europe 2007….remember all the cars going off in the wet


Please, everybody should notice that last year’s situation can never happen again because the pit lane is always open! Even if Liuzzi or anybody else has already pitted before the SC comes out, the front runners will be able to pit before catching the SC and therefore end up ahead!


There is one thing I cannot understand: why everybody is so focused on safety car? The rules has changed since last year, so there is no more room for the last year Renault scenario. If the is SC, those who stopped already have no adavantage over those who didn’t. They most likely loose positions rather than gain anything.


James, I just want a quick moment to thank you for free and unfettered opinion which is allowed on this blog. The BBC now has a policy where every comment critical of Legard is currently “referred to the moderator”. It actually looks quite amusing because now the blog is plastered with these referrals. I think we can therefore guess what the majority opinion is. Oh, there is one comment left up – saying that the beeb coverage is better without James Allen! Presumably a Mrs L. wrote that one.

Anyway, ignoring his inane ramblings and somewhat hilarious 8.2% success rate in predicting race outcomes (a Brawn 1-2 this weekend apparently), I personally am pleased to see Nico Rosberg up there. I really hope he can translate this into race pace as we have seen Williams go backwards through races this season. Why would that be? Because they don’t have the pace, or they don’t have the right tactics/strategy?

The other thing will be to keep an eye on Jenson. He does not appear to be afraid to overtake – witness the move on Heikki in Monza. Can Jenson make up a few places on the road rather than the pits? I guess he will be slow at first but once the fuel weight comes down, then hopefully he will fly and show us the commitment which I am sure he has.


I rally hope that Roaberg does well, adit might give him the confidence to stay at Williams next year.

The situation with Button is depressing though. How can he and Shovelin be so poor at set up? I wouldn’t accuse Rubens of duplicity but it is strange that since his outburst JB keeps having problems. Perhaps things are not as open as Ross Brawn would like.


BMW must be praying that there is no safety car period just after Heidfeld’s pit stop. Kubica’s radio will probably show the team telling him to avoid Turn 17 at all costs and to find a different route.

It is impossible to get much dependable information from the grid given the red flag but that’s no reason not to try I suppose.

Hamilton is looking superb. Whilst all five cars behind him being lighter fueled shows how strong he is one wonders if this might be a worry for the first corner. He must get a good start. Mind you, even if Vettel does get the drop on him the Red Bull will have to stop for a splash and dash half way round the opening lap.

LH’s end of season run puts a number of myths to bed: that he can’t develop a car, was lucky with his WDC and that McLaren would suffer catastrophe after Ron’s departure.

Heikki’s poor showing must be a big disappointment for the team.

But Kimi! If it was almost any other driver you might convince me that demotivation was a factor given how he is being treated at the moment. However, that’s difficult to believe with him. Is the car such a dog? It didn’t look class of the field yesterday, more likely to end up in one.

It’s good to see Williams back. Whenever Head is interviewed he exudes confidence. The consensus seems to be that next season KERS will still be allowed because of their support for it (gentlemen’s agreement? Like that would work) and I can’t help wondering if it might take up too many of their resources. They are, after all, a small team.

It must be a technical and strategic nightmare. It has been shown this season that for some circuits KERS is of little use and maybe even a handicap. So that’s two cars to design. Fingers crossed.

But my bet is for Rosberg to be in second at least after all the pit stops. He is the revelation of the season.


I will be happy for Lewis or Nico and I hope that Jenson will be lucky to score some good points.


Unfortunately for most of the other drivers, Ruben’s crash might have proved lucky for Lewis. Hope Nico gets a great start, somehow I have a feeling Vettel might just manage to jump Lewis. But well its his race to lose with that fuel load and position.


Good luck to Nico for the race. It would be fab if he could win that one on merit instead of whingeing he has been robed last year when in fact he was a lucky beneficiary of Nelsinho’s crash. Williams deserves a good result.

Paige Michael-Shetley

James, another question.

Peter Windsor commented on Speed TV that there’s a construction site that is operating during track time, and that there’s been lots of dust blowing in from it. How much are you hearing people complain about it?

Thank you for putting so much effort into this blog to keep us all up to date. I really enjoyed your commentary on ITV when I studied abroad in Britain two years ago. You do such great work, and your passion for the sport is very clear. PLEASE give us American fans the privilege of your work on TV by taking Windsor’s spot with Speed TV when he starts his USF1 adventure next year!


Hi Paige,

There is a new subway station under construction which is where most of the dust comes from – but apart from that, practically every corner of Singapore has a building site somewhere.

As for James, sorry to sound selfish but we Brits need him back on the BBC to a) reform the excellent partnership with Martin Brundle and b) to replace Jonathan Legard, the master of the inane comment. At least you have a motor-racing commentator over there. We have a football commentator with the relevant level of drivel that brings.

Paige Michael-Shetley

Yeah, but Windsor’s affection for Jarno Trulli is borderline creepy at times. 😉


Being at the Singapore track today, I found it interesting that the start/ finish lines are not at the same place. The finish line is some 100 metres before the start line, is this common and why?


I thougt all the tracks were like that. Isn’t it so that the grid all start the race in front of the finishing line? The reason being that they are then all starting on the same lap.


Magny Cours is the same.


I have not noticed this well. And hence the question. James might be able to throw some light on whether Renault is running K.E.R.S. here or not.


I am sure that during qually the a shot with the Rev Counter and “telemetry” graphic showed a Cross through the battery symbol.(KERS) for one of the Renaults. Cross means not fitted, rather than discharged I think.


This could be very simple for Lewis, Nico and Seb. That’s your Percentage Podium. I’d say the Upset Podium will be:

Alonso (winning in a timely morale boost for Renault)

Heidfeld (capitalizing on his penchant for extremes of fuel strategy)

Raikonnen (maintaining his recent strong form).


am i the only person, that in the wake of the Renault saga seemingly allways close at hand, whilst watching qualifying, seeing Rubens crasing causing the session to be red flaged, immediately had flashbacks to Schumi in Monaco deliberatly parking his ferrari to ensure that nobody behind could set a faster time. I believe that this is proof that sagas such as this only do more damage harm than good to F1 and its reputation, that these episodes are repedley dragged back up. Lets hope that there are no more such scandals for the remainder of the year that have over the corse of the season done their best to detract from what has been a great championship that looks as if it will go down to the wire at the final race with Jenson on the backfoot and Rubens driving his socks off,


The only reason Rosberg finished in 2nd place last year James, was because the delay of the stewards imposing a stop and go on Nico for pitting when the pits were closed.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

James, great summary as always. I sincerely appreciate the amount of effort that you put into all your write-ups and how generous you are in letting people post their comments – whether good, bad, or ugly.

I have tried to post on the appallingly thin and flaky Legard blog on the BBC. The level of censorship is insane…you cannot be critical of any his opinions. The BBC have become ultra paranoid over his position.

James, talking about Williams as a team of the future…are you talking about their approach to F1 or predicting that they will rise again in the future? Surely they would need some sort of exclusive manufacture backed edge to do this on a consistent basis. Are there any manufacturers looking to enter the sport?

I am a little worried about Frank Williams I must say. He seems to been behaving like a grumpy old man lately. Firstly, in his siding against FOTA and with the FIA and then more recently on snubbing Michael Schumacher on getting in some practice laps.

Do you think that Frank is a problem for a potential investor/manufacturer? It would be great to have your views on Williams prospects and going forward. There must be something that is keeping a man of Sam Michael’s talents on onboard.


Williams are the only old-school independent team left*. Sometimes we forget racers are inherently self interested and narrow minded. FOTA is effectively an industry group, the type of body that usually lobbies governments or sets technical standards. The members of these groups will fight hard away from group business, but always present a harmonious front when doing group activities.

It’s not the sort of thing you’d normally see in F1, Frank has just put his views out there despite the others.

* Ferrari are old school and arguably independent, Red Bull and Force India are independent but have way too much cash to be old school.


They are racers and they have a smart CEO in Adam Parr who will get them to the place they need to be in for the future


Sir Frank has always been a grumpy old man!

He’s an out and out racer and I love him for it. The same grit that makes him pass on drivers like Mansell and Hill after winning championships or parting ways with suppliers like Renault or BMW is the same grit that makes him the only independent championship winning race team still out there.

I feel and hope that with the budget cuts the tide is turning in their favour. But if they do have a return to the front you can guarantee it won’t be because they “sold out” in any way, shape or form. Not their style and the grid is all the better because of it.


James, is there any word on Barrichello’s car state, whether he is gonig to have a further gearbox change, whether they can work on the car currently(as DC said they may have to wait till Sunday) and the likelyhood of him starting from the pitlane?


He says its not as bad it looked on TV!


1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 660.5 Lap 19

3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 657.5 Lap 18

Rosberg was fueled the same as Hamilton I think? Just Rosberg was already on his second hotlap when Barrichello crashed and used the extra lap of fuel where as Hamilton was able to come in at the end of his outlap instead.

Pretty impressive from Rosberg, I hope he can stick with Hamilton and Vettel tomorrow to give himself a shot of taking the win or at least a podium.

Paige Michael-Shetley

Good point on the fuel.

If Rosberg wants any shot at a victory, he’s going to have to get a great start and get ahead of Vettel. He can’t be held up by Vettel’s wake. In any event, he looks great for his first podium.

Paige Michael-Shetley

That is, his first podium of the season.


We have has three red flag accidents…rubens, mark and roman


I think they commonly red flag practice sessions if there’s a car to be cleared. Red flags in races and qualifying are pretty rare though these days, races especially. I can’t remember the a time a race was red flagged before Malaysia this year. San Marino 1994 maybe.


When Alonso had that big smash in Brazil 03?


Yeah, I thought that one was red flagged because it was so close to the end of the race anyway, but I looked it up–it was a good 20 laps short. I guess it would have been restarted except there were only 8 runners left.


Looks like Heidfeld was the biggest loser with Rubens’ crash.

You’d have to be brave to put money on anyone other than Hamilton tomorrow, unless he crashes out I think he’s got it in the bag.


Would be absolutely faaaannnnnntastic if Nico can bring Williams back into the winners circle!


FAIL Nico 🙁 (big shame)


Mr_E .. you didn’t script it properly !!! but that was an epic fail…lets hope next time!


I agree that Rosberg will be the main challenger if there is no safety car, although it is inevitable there will be one at some point.

In the battle for the championship Barrichello is in a bad spot as he will likely be behind cars with slightly more fuel, holding him up. With Button heavy it gives him a strong chance of beating Barrichello and capitalising highly from any major crashes or SC incidents. He may even get into the points if he drives well on the first lap and keeps Rai behind him!

Paige Michael-Shetley

Yeah, a safety car before the first pit stops will really shake things up. Button would be in a really good position if this happened, as I do think Brawn has very good race pace this weekend. The issue with Q2 seemed pretty flukey. He could have a shot at the podium if this happened, perhaps getting even more if Hamilton the main challengers are held up by traffic.

Paige Michael-Shetley


What are your thoughts on the current status of Williams?

Clearly, they’ve made a big leap this year, at least with Rosberg. They’ve been really impressive over the balance considering that they didn’t really do a great job when they were arguably in the best position to do so early in the season, when they had the DDD and most teams didn’t. Comparing them to their engine supplier, they come out looking even better, as they’ve kept the car well-developed while presumably spending significantly less than Toyota, who also had the DDD early and have since made a mess of the development on the car. The car is clearly quicker on street and technical circuits (Monaco, Hungary, Valencia, Singapore), and lots of people have said they have really good mechanical grip, but they’ve also done well on more representative circuits like Istanbul Park and the Nurburgring.

Williams really seems like a team for the future in an era of cost-cutting. Perhaps years of scrapping on a tight budget have paid off, as they’re better prepared for the coming era of cost-cutting. It would be really nice to see them return to the forefront of the grid, as my earliest memories as a F1 fan were of cheering on Damon Hill in Williams with the lovely Rothmans livery.


If there was prospect of a winning car it would be great to see Raikkonen and Rosberg drive for Williams. They would make excellent non-political teammates and they both come closest out of all today’s drivers to the old school romantic ethos.

But where’s that genius car designer to make it possible?


“My earliest memories as a F1 fan were of cheering on Damon Hill in Williams with the lovely Rothmans livery.”

No offence, but, oh, you make me feel old! Great post but I remember the days when Williams ran other people’s chassis and I was at Brands Hatch when Pescarolo destroyed the Politoys.

I actually hope Williams keep hold of Rosberg because they are both improving similarly and it would be good to see them share the fruits. Williams need to accept Rosberg as a team leader.

Paige Michael-Shetley

The issue is they’ve got another young German ready for a seat who, in a lot of people’s opinion (including mine), is better. So there’s an incentive for Rosberg not only to capitalize on his market value never being higher than now, but also to move away so that he’s not upstaged by a younger rookie compatriot next year.


I’ve said before here that I think Williams are a team of the future. They have sound engineers, great facilities, strong management and some inventive sponsorship ideas.


I would love that to happen.They are a real F1 team,the old school.


But do you think they can last given the current economic situation? Being that sponsors are hard to come by, and as an Independant team, Williams are reliant on outside finance… So long as we are in this financial rut, Williams are in trouble, and it’s only a matter of time before they run out of money and sponsors…


I havent heard much about KERS here this weekend, I take it from that its not much of an advantage, and so wont see any charging up the field from the likes of Raikkonen at the start? and then hitting the magic button to keep any gains during the rest of the race?


The speed channel commentators were mentioning that it’s very difficult to use – just not enough time between breaking zones. Fisichella was struggling to completely discharge the KERS each lap.


KERS doesn’t have too much of an affect at Singapore, as there are no significantly long straights. Of course it will be an advantage, but not as much as most other circuits. It’s a street circuit, after all. Very twisty and not that fast…

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