Vettel dominates Singapore GP closes on title
25 September, 2011
(Reuters & PVM) Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel held off a charging Jenson Button to win the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday and stand one point away from becoming Formula One’s youngest double world champion.
The 24-year-old German led from pole to flag and despite a spirited challenge over the final five laps from Button in his McLaren, held on to move 124 points clear of the Briton with just 125 available from the five races remaining.
“You are one point away from achieving the title, brilliant drive,” Red Bull team principal Christain Horner told Vettel over the radio after the reigning champion took the chequered flag under the floodlights.
“Yes, yes, Singapore. We did it, ” an emotional Vettel replied, whooping in delight.
The title is now set to be decided in Japan on 9 October, unless Vettel fails to score and Button wins that race at Suzuka.
Vettel, who had opened a 22.7-second advantage before a safety car period halfway through the 61 lap race, crossed the line 1.7 seconds ahead of Button with Red Bull team mate Mark Webber a further 27.5 seconds back in third.
Vettel said afterwards, “I’m very pleased with the result, the car was fantastic all the way through. When we had to push we could pull away quite easily. The safety car didn’t fit to our plan but I had good restart and was able to get back into my rhythm straight away. I love the track and I love the challenge. Last year I finished second to Fernando, this year it’s great to come back and get the job done. We can be proud of ourselves again. In the heat we kept our heads cool. It was a perfect day at the office today.”
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished a distant fourth.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton collided with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and collected a drive-through penalty before fighting back to fifth place ahead of Force India’s British rookie Paul Di Resta in a career best sixth.
Vettel’s victory was his ninth of the season and he only looked threatened when Team Lotus released Heikki Kovalainen into his path as they left the pits from their final stop.
Button closed late on as the leader eased up slightly but once the Briton ran into traffic on the final two laps, Vettel’s victory was never in doubt.
The 2009 world champion is now the only man who can prevent Vettel from becoming the ninth driver to win back-to-back titles.
Somewhat frustrated Button summed up his evening, “I can understand that’s it’s difficult to move over here and most people are fighting out there but the backmarkers have got to respect that the cars that are lapping are lapping for reason. So yeah, there were some frustrating moments. One was [Kamui] Kobayashi when I sat behind him for a lap before he eventually pulled over. It was the best we could have done today. I feel like I got everything out of the car. Especially in the last part of race, I was able to push on tyres to see what the car had. We weren’t quick enough to win today but it’s something to build on.”
Webber summed up his race, “Unfortunately I’ve found myself having to come back through too often this year. I haven’t made the starts I made last year and I have to work on that. In the end I lost a position out of that [the poor start]. Seb clearly deserved victory and well done to JB for second place. I would have loved a win but it’s a very, very challenging venue. It’s nice to have the car in one piece – the guys have done a great job all weekend.”
Vettel has 309 points to Button’s 185, with Alonso out of contention on 184 and Webber on 182.
Button would need to win all the remaining races and the German, who has not finished lower than fourth all season, would have to fail to score in any of them.
Michael Schumacher’s Singapore Grand Prix came to a premature halt on Sunday when the seven-times Formula One champion crashed heavily on lap 30.
The German’s Mercedes shunted the back of Sergio Perez’s Sauber between turn seven and eight of the floodlit street circuit, and flipped up at the front before slamming into the barriers.
“I was just about to dive inside…and at the moment I was about to go inside he lifted off the throttle to get prepared for his braking that I didn’t anticipate to be so early. So it was a shame,” Schumacher told reporters.
The safety car was deployed, with world champion Sebastian Vettel leading for Red Bull, as marshals cleared up debris on the track.
Mexican rookie Perez had been battling Schumacher’s team mate Nico Rosberg for seventh place when the pair tangled on the first turn, allowing Schumacher to catch up.
The 42-year-old German was unhurt and swiftly leapt from his car before walking back to the garages.
Sunday, 25 September – Race Result
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||61||Winner||1||25|
|2||4||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||61||+1.7 secs||3||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||61||+29.2 secs||2||15|
|4||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||61||+55.4 secs||5||12|
|5||3||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||61||+67.7 secs||4||10|
|6||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||61||+ secs||10||8|
|7||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||60||+1 Lap||7||6|
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||60||+1 Lap||9||4|
|9||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||60||+1 Lap||6||2|
|10||17||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||60||+1 Lap||11||1|
|11||12||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||60||+1 Lap||13|
|12||18||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||60||+1 Lap||14|
|13||11||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||60||+1 Lap||12|
|14||16||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||59||+2 Laps||17|
|15||9||Bruno Senna||Renault||59||+2 Laps||15|
|16||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||59||+2 Laps||19|
|17||10||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||59||+2 Laps||18|
|18||25||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||59||+2 Laps||22|
|19||22||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||57||+4 Laps||23|
|20||23||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||57||+4 Laps||24|
|21||19||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||56||Accident||16|
|Ret||21||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||47||+14 Laps||20|
|Ret||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||9||+52 Laps||21|
Note – Liuzzi qualified 24th, but had a five-place grid penalty for causing a collision at the previous round.