SINGAPORE GP: LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION- ALONSO!
The Singapore GP brought new meaning to the term ‘lights, camera, action’ as I awoke early to catch my favorite grid-boy Peter Windsor bask in the glow of the newly installed soft lights which illuminated the first ever Formula One night race. A 5.067-kilometer street circuit was created in Marina Bay for the event, but preparations have been tricky according to Toyota’s Italian driver Jarno Trulli. “I’ve seen the plans and the Grand Prix looks amazing so far, even if before we can get a real idea I would like to drive on the circuit for the first time, or anyway to see the first the circuit laid down, to understand especially the safety, the corners, the speed – and then you get a better idea about the set-up and the kind of down force we’re going to have.”
And now, lets take it down to Peter Windsor on the grid: “The atmosphere is just brilliant. More than ever before there are a lot of smiling faces around the cars and the people.” As he speaks, he eyes the crowded grid like a lion stalking its prey along the Serengeti plains…first victim is Flavio Britore (managing director, Renault) who strolls by as Windsor grabs Flavio by the arm. Flavio turns around to find the microphone in his face: “Flavio, we’re live on American television, Speed, first of all what are you thoughts on the atmosphere here?” He echoes Windsor’s sentiment…Windsor spots Italian GP winner Sebastian Vettel…”Live on American TV” (someone whispers in Vettels ear) as Windsor ignores the interruption: “Live on American TV, great job at Monza mate and enjoy the race.”…Vettel says thank you and Windsor turns his microphone back towards the grid in efforts to find a more flavorful meal…Sir Jackie Stewart feeds a few words to P-dogg, saying he was initially skeptical but all is good…the grid beast then moves in another direction, proclaiming. “There’s Mark Windsor who’s looking like he wants to be interviewed” he approaches, “Mark, hasn’t been a great weekend so far mate, but anyway, you got a few honors, you were the first guy to hit the wall.” Webber scratches his head, ”Yeah, exactly…one of our weaker qualifying performances in the last the year.” Windsor: “But what do you think about the show?” Webber: “We need to do more of these.” Cut to commercial break…back to the grid…Windsor with Nelson Piquet. Piquet, in his usual blah-blah-blahness, “Yeah, qualifying was a pity because testing was really good and me, plus the team, screwed up with strategy, with set-up, we, we thought we could have found it a little bit more in qualifying but the car went in another direction, plus going in the traffic but it’s gonna be a good start with Fernando next to me so it’s a good chance to show the team how strong I can be.” Windsor, apparently grasping what Nelson was saying this time: “Good luck Nelson”…In chimes the commentators: “Poor old Nelson Piquet, this is supposed to be fun kid!”
(Above: Sutil, Hamilton, Rosberg) Massa, Hamilton, Raikkonen…a single championship point separates Felipe Massa and Hamilton (Hamilton owns that point)…. starting 11th is my Jarno Trulli in row six…Fernando Alonso starting back in row 8…and they’re off…61 laps in total…Trulli moves up two positions…Massa holding strong in first with Hamilton about 1.2 seconds behind…Raikkonen about 5 seconds behind…three laps in and Massa/Hamilton are running way ahead of the pack…Nico needs to get by Trulli to maintain his dignity…debris on the track, yellow flag….Massa and Hamilton still fighting for first…Trulli falls to 11 because his fuel load is heavy…Raikkonen is routinely setting fastest lap…putting the pressure on Hamilton who is 3.227 seconds ahead of him….oh-another fastest lap just clocked by Raikkonen…
Speed then cuts to a voice over of an interview Windsor did with Sebastian Bourdais about the passing of Paul Newman. Bourdais: “Obviously, we keep a lot of very good memories from him and spent a lot of times to do a lot of good things around him, especially for kids, and ah, just a great character, a guy who enjoyed his life…I know he will be dearly missed. It’s just a sad day.” And suddenly, in the midst of my tears welling up at Bourdias words-we cut to Nelson Piquet’s car smashed against the wall of the track. “A very sad day and we see Nelson Piquet into the wall, heavily.” Can we get a safety car? Here she comes…14 laps into the race…pit lanes closed when safety car is out…guys need to refuel…Piquet can’t get off the track…so he runs across it…Barrichello is stopped on the track now, he just pulled to a stop…Kubica refuels and gets a ten-second penalty…but if you’re gonna run outta fuel you’ve got no choice. Barrichellos car being pushed off the track…crane on the track hoisting the remains of Piquets car…pit lanes now reopen…
Massa leads the parade into the pit lane and pulls out with the fuel hose still attached. The mechanics rush to him in efforts to remove the hose…they cant seem to get it off…Massa has the engine running very hot…and it looks like it’s over for Massa-oh, they got it off and he’s off after losing close to 30-seconds…major, major f*ck up by team Ferrari…there’s the safety car again…Hamilton pitted after Massa…the cluster f*ck bottle neck opening of the pit lanes has now given us a new line up of Rosberg in first and Trulli in second…Hamilton is way down in 8th…and we’re less than 20 laps into the race… and just like that things can change in the blink of an eye…and now I’m told that due to time restraints, they may not be able to televise then entire race-I’m gonna go insane if they cut me off here…
Hamilton in sixth behind Couthard…making his way back up to the front…33 laps remaining…Massa way back in sixteenth place…Mark Webber seems to be done as they push his car into the garage…Trulli now leading the race…just about at the halfway point in the race but he has yet to make a pit stop…Alonso inching up on Trulli…Trulli remains the fastest man on the track right now but he’s about to pit…Hamilton in fifth…Alonso up to second…Trulli pits in 9.9 and reenters at eighth, his fuel is gonna weigh him down a bit…28 laps to go…Alonso now back out front….Hamilton back to fourth…Raikkonen passes Trulli….Alonso pits in 7.6…20 laps remaining…Coulthard blocking Hamilton from second…he’s gotta get around and passes beautifully while fighting for a podium finish….Hamilton pits in 7.7, Coulthard pits at the same time…7.0 but has a problem with the fuel hose and losses time before he takes to the track again…Alonso enjoying his first place run…Rosberg moves up to third…18 laps remaining…Hamilton in fifth working his way up…Trulli in sixth…Alonso, Glock, Rosberg leading in the one, two, three positions…13 laps…Rosberg now in second… 11 laps to go, Sutil rams into the water-wall after Massa cuts him off…car on fire…safety car…Trulli is out of it-game over for my Italian racer after he had a meeting with the water-wall as well….
The final ten laps host Alonso in first, Rosberg in second and Hamilton in third…it’s do or die time…Safety car keeping ‘em slow until debris is removed…its all come down to the brakes-according to Windsor…nine laps remaining…safety car gone…restart underway…if Hamilton can pass Rosberg he’ll pick up two (championship) points….Alonso holds a secure lead with his “soft, prime tires”….nose to tail, Hamilton challenges Rosberg…Alonso is at about at a 6 second lead….yeah, we see you Alonso…Raikkonen hits the curb with four laps remaining…and yet another casualty…
Gotta give mad props to Alonso for blowing em all away (his 20th career win)….final lap…and AGHHHHH, my DVR says “enough” and the Speed Channel cuts my Sunday morning fetish short. Fortunately, nothing happened in the last lap, and in Formula One’s first night race, Fernando Alonso captured the Singapore Grand Prix after starting 15, Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead by seven points and finished third, while Nico Rosberg took second. With 15 of 18 races completed, Hamilton has 84 points in the driver standings, followed by Massa (77) and Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber (64).
Once again, thanks to Peter Windsor for the wonderful early morning wake up call…and thanks to the drivers for making this very special night race a success. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching these guys-is that if you’re ever in a car with them, let them drive but dear god don’t let them pump the gas. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many ‘refueling mishaps’ as I have in Formula One.
RIP PAUL NEWMAN: YOU WERE THE MAN AND WILL FOREVER BE MY COOL HAND LUKE.
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As always, thanks for reading.