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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WET TRACK A TREAT FOR SOME
Monza. It’s the fastest track on the circuit…and moisture on the track can cause problems for some, such as Lewis Hamilton who chose the wrong tires in qualifying-or the moisture can work magic for others such as Sebastian Vettel, who became the youngest driver ever in the history of Formula One to qualify first…according to my dreamboat-gridboy- extraordinaire – Peter Windsor-it’s because Vettel “Love’s it when its wet.”
NO!! Off to a bad start as rain caused problems with Peter Windsor’s ‘camera’ and we weren’t able to follow him as he worked the grid for the pregame show…they tried to appease me by running an interview my grid-beast did with Lewis Hamilton…Lewis talked about being really grateful for his opportunities and how close he is now with his family, faith, and religion…all fine and dandy but I wanna see Windsor on the grid already…audio only with Mark Webber: “The grip level is reasonable…” he says as I curse the camera men who can’t get my Windsor on screen…cut to some lame stock footage explaining the mechanics of a Red Bull car-would have cared if Windsor were talking but he wasn’t…I can’t even see him…microphone works…not fun…missing a priceless moment as we hear Windsor approach 1997 Italian GP winner David Couthard from the Red Bull Team, “David can I join you as you walk back to the car…I know you’re not a great man for emotion and all that stuff but this is your last ever European Grand Prix, your thoughts?” Couthard wished it were a dry track…blah, blah, blah…we then get a shot of Bernie Ecclestone walking around with an umbrella…technical difficulties with Windsor’s camera have crushed my Sunday morning fantasy…the race starts with a safety car…Hamilton way down at 15th…giving Massa an edge to overtake Hamilton in championship points…safety car gone and we are green at Monza…the spray from the rain soaked track giving the drivers a intense visual impermanent in most spots…cant see anything…
Sebastian Vettel maintains the lead…Jarno Trulli is 6th and catching up-apparently my new Italian crush is very good at “wet driving”…Hamilton at 13…5 laps in and nothing too exciting yet…Vettel is about 9-mph quicker per lap than the other drivers, putting the others to shame but then again he doesn’t have a driver in front of him spraying the track….Timo Glock skids off for a second…all are using extreme wet tires….Windsor tells us the rain has backed off a bit…and is clearing up but of course there’s still on ton of water on the track…oops, Vettel just lost 6-seconds by running over a ‘sleeping policeman’….hear comes Hamilton trying to overtake but doesn’t quite make it, “Its still very, very wet”…Hamilton takes over Kovalainen for 11th… Massa overtakes Nico Rosberg…Hamilton edges passed Glock…he passes another…more rain expected in about five minutes…Vettel still leading…amazing…Hamilton up to 7th place…round and round they go…Hamilton up to second now, amazing considering he started fifteenth…Vettel in lead…lap 23…Hamilton now 2.6 seconds faster than Vettel on last lap…can Hamilton win this after starting so far back in the pack? Hamilton clocked fastest lap at 34.3…Vettel with 36.3 seconds…Hamilton only needs a 7-second fuel stop to complete the race…hasn’t pitted yet…Massa stuck behind Heidfeld…Jarno pits in 9.4…less than one second separates Hamilton and Vettel with 27 laps to go…Hamilton pits…it has to be a perfect pit stop…damn 9.7 seconds…too long…enters back in tenth…no traffic…technically leads the way because everyone ahead of him has yet to pit…Kovalainen in second chasing Vettel…24 laps to go…the sexy voice of Peter Windsor chimes in with a weather report…Alonso pits in 9.8…Hamilton in sixth now…apparently, rain is a concern for everyone except Hamilton…up to fifth now with 22 to go…Jarno back in tenth…Webber spins into a 360, regains control beautifully…18 laps to go…Jarno pits…Vettel hasn’t pitted yet…Hamilton has now moved into second…Vettel pits in 6.7…Hamilton pitted again, this time in 5.2…17 laps to go…Hamilton must close the gap of about 34-seconds in order to win this race…Massa at sixth…Hamilton inching up on him…15 laps remaining…Hamilton lays fastest lap at 32.869…gap between Massa and Alonso was 8 seconds and is now 5.5…Hamilton is desperately attempting to pass Massa…Vettel lays down a personal best of 33.569…Hamilton closes the Massa gap to 2.4…but still at seventh…Hamilton hasn’t been able to pick up any speed…his pace is dropping off…could be the tires…4 laps remaining…if Massa places ahead of Hamilton, our baby will lose his first place standing in championships points…
Vettel is amazing as he dominates first…Kovalainen in second…final lap, on Vettels radio “few drops pozzeeble, few drops pozzeeble.” And just like that, Sebastian Vettel becomes the youngest driver ever in Formula One history to win a race. His first win, and the first win for his team. Second: Kovalainen, Kubica third….Massa sixth, Hamilton seventh. So, despite a Peter Windsor-less visual, and a lousy place by Hamilton, it was still worth it to get up early and watch our speed demons accumulate their championship points.
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