Vintage Alonso Performance Earns Second In Singapore
Fernando Alonso managed to turn seventh on the grid into second at the checkered flag after a vintage performance by the Spaniard in Singapore.
He jumped up to third at the start and then gambled by pitting under a safety car on lap 25 while Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg up ahead chose to stay out, as did Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. He dropped to fifth but managed to keep his tires in good shape and get to the flag. When the others pitted only Vettel was able to stay ahead, leaving Alonso in second.
“It was not easy, obviously, to finish the race with those tires,” he said. “But we committed to that strategy when we pit under the safety car and we were controlling the pace all through the last stint thanks to the gap that we managed to build. The start again was very good and I was lucky to choose the right line. On Turn One there is always people going on the left, people going on the right in every circuit.
“We’ve managed so far to choose the right one. And then we were third which was already a good result for us. But when we didn’t stop Rosberg pitting in the safety car, we decided to pit and to try something different. We were too slow this weekend. We were not in a level that we should be. We try a little bit different things, and it pay off at the end with a fantastic second place. For us it tastes like a victory today.”
He admitted that the team didn’t know if the gamble would work.
“We didn’t know exactly how long the tires would survive. We were maybe not expecting that long but… We are sixty points behind in the championship, if it works OK, if it doesn’t work maybe we don’t finish second, we finish fourth or fifth.
“There was a small chance that if Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton were not that slow after the safety car, maybe Sebastian didn’t get the 28 seconds necessary to exit in front of me but Nico, I think, had a problem with the front wing, Webber was without tyres and Hamilton pitted very late, the last.
“So when I had a free track and Seb pitted and exited in front of me already so we had a small chance to maybe lead the race but obviously very difficult to keep [with] Sebastian. Probably in the last part of the race with new tyres and we with a very slow pace. But we tried, nothing to lose and I think that will be the strategy in the last part of the championship. We are not as fast as they are in qualifying or in the race so we will try something different.”
Meanwhile Alonso admitted that the championship is getting ever more difficult.
“Well obviously we have to be realistic. A few races to go already, the gap is still increasing every weekend and now it’s sixty points. So, as I said, we need to be honest with ourselves and knowing that we need a lot of luck. We don’t need luck in Korea; we need luck in Korea, in Japan, in India, in Abu Dhabi… We need luck every weekend if we are one second off the pace. We need a lot of luck. On the other hand, we are a very uncomfortable opponent, I think, because if we get that luck, we will be there.”
Raikkonen Fights Through Injury To Finish On Podium
Kimi Raikkonen put in an impressive performance to jump from 13th on the grid to third place in Singapore, despite having suffered all weekend with a back problem.
After an early first stop found him some clean air, Raikkonen was running ninth when he pitted under the safety car. By running to the flag without another stop he was able to move up into third, behind Fernando Alonso, who followed the same strategy.
“We had a plan and we know that what moment, if the safety car comes, we try to go until the end,” said Raikkonen. “So I knew what will happen and luckily some other teams couldn’t do it and had to pit. I was kind of stuck behind Jenson for most of the race but then I tried to give him some pressure and keep him pushing so I noticed that he started running out of his tyres and I could start to get in closer and closer.
“In the end I decided to try to pass him and managed to get past – because there were people who stopped for the fresh tyres who were catching very quickly, but luckily once I got past I could push a bit more and keep the gap big enough to end it in third place. After the weekend where we had some problems with myself and not the ideal set-up with all those things and where we were yesterday, finishing third, I don’t think we could have asked much more.”
Raikkonen admitted his back was a serious concern.
“I didn’t feel it too much during the race but obviously afterwards it’s not ideal and yesterday it was pretty bad. I almost didn’t drive, so between that and finishing third I think we have to be happy – and hopefully we can sort those problems for the next race. It’s not the first time. For a long time there have been some issues with my back. I know that I have some work to do at the end of the year, so we have to see what we do.”
Vettel Not Put Off By Booing
Sebastian Vettel took another step towards the 2013 World Championship with a superb victory in Singapore.
Vettel left rivals breathless in the Singapore heat as he built up a lead in the opening laps and then did it again after a safety car period, as no one else could stay near him.
Vettel almost lost the lead to Nico Rosberg at the start, but he managed to squeeze back in front.
“The lights went off, I thought I reacted pretty well but was a bit lazy to get off the line,” he said. “I thought that Nico might still be there. He was and we were side-by-side, kind of, so I had to give him room. But fortunately he was braking quite deep into Turn One and I was able to come back on the inside to get the position.
“Fortunately the next corner was a lefthander so I got in front and from there we had a very, very strong pace. Safety car didn’t help but also I think didn’t hurt us. In the very end obviously we had a new set of Supersoft, compared to those guys, they were obviously on very old Primes so by then we could control the race. Don’t forget there is 1.5s difference between the tyres.
“This is a long race, it seemed to go on forever, so there’s a lot of things that can go wrong, the walls sometimes get really, really close, sometimes closer than you think. So you can’t really afford to lean back. Obviously towards the end I was controlling the gap. It was helping that I was on fresh options compared to these guys who were on very old Primes at the time, so we could control the gap to see the chequered flag.”
Once again Vettel was booed by a section of the crowd when he was on the podium, although he insisted that he wasn’t concerned.
“It’s not nice but I think you should look around the grandstands. Most of the fans are dressed in red, Ferrari has a very strong fan base for a reason: they have a lot of tradition in Formula One, they’ve been around longer and won, and they’ve been more successful than any other team. There’s more and more blue people – more and more people dressed in blue so we are doing a good job on that front, but obviously they are quite emotional when they are not winning and if somebody else is winning, they don’t really like it and as it seems they are on a tour and they are wealthy enough to go to a lot of races, Monza or take the flight to come here to Singapore.
“As long as they keep booing, we are doing a very good job so that’s the way I see it. It’s not people from Singapore or from one country only. It’s normal in sports if some people support one driver then they don’t like another driver to win.
“Equally there were a lot of German flags around the track, there are a lot of Germans here in Singapore, it’s a very international city. The parade lap was quite nice and also the lap after the checkered flag there were a lot of people cheering. Obviously I didn’t give them the most exciting race but on days like this, I really don’t mind.”
Caterham has finally confirmed that it will continue its partnership with Renault into the turbo era.
Although there was never any question of the team taking any other route, given Caterham’s road car co-operation with Renault, the deal has only now been formalized. The news leaves Lotus and Sauber as the only teams yet to officially confirm their 2014 deals with their current suppliers.
“This announcement is obviously very good news for our F1 team,” said team principal Cyril Abiteboul. “And is a reflection of the deep bonds that have been created between our two businesses since 2011, particularly with the road car project we launched in 2012 between Caterham and Alpine, which is now at an advanced stage in development.
“Given the age and status of our team we have also been pleased to see Renault Sport F1 adapting their operational practices to suit our size and optimizing our integration with an enhanced technical collaboration. We work together in an open and honest manner to help Caterham F1 Team achieve its short-term goal of establishing itself as an integral part of F1 and to help Renault achieve the deserved recognition of its technical edge.”
“Over the past three years we have seen Caterham mature, with impressive new facilities and a solid technical structure, said Jean-Michel Jalinier, President and Managing Director of Renault Sport F1. “The new technical regulations provide a big challenge, but with change comes opportunity and next year is a prime chance for the team to secure the next targets in its ongoing plans.
“From the very start our partnership has been comprehensive and it is therefore natural that we would want to see it pay dividends. We are very happy with the quality and depth of the teams we will supply and look forward to seeing the first generation of Energy F1-powered cars hit the track next year.”