I can’t believe it. I haven’t stopped smiling since I watched the race last night. Fernando Alonso in his great big steaming pile of garbage Renault won the first ever Singapore Grand Prix. And it wasn’t just any old first Grand Prix either, it was the first GP in Singapore and it was the first F1 race held at night.
Alonso’s weekend started out on a real high note. He was fastest in the second practice session on Friday, and fastest by more than half a second in the final practice session Saturday before Qualifying. Unfortunately, in qualifying things went horribly wrong when his engine stopped at the beginning of the second session, relegating him to the 15th spot on the starting grid. I figured his race was over before it had even started. I was not happy.
But Sunday, everything just fell into place.
The one advantage he had starting so far back on the grid was he didn’t have to declare how much fuel he would be carrying at the start of the race. I had guessed he would go with a one-stop drive it like you stole it strategy. But instead he ran a super-short first stint on the softer, faster tires, and made his first pit stop on lap 12.
This was an incredibly wise move because on lap 15 his teammate, Nelsinho Piquet (or Nelson Jr. as I prefer to call him) put his Renault in the wall and the safety car came out.
Now, there are rules about going into the pits during the safety car. Once the safety car is deployed the pits are closed until race control opens them. They made this rule so cars wouldn’t drive like hell around to the pits when the safety car came out, potentially driving right through the scene of whatever accident caused the safety car in the first place.
Unfortunately for some of the drivers, this time Nelson Jr. put his car in the wall just when they were getting ready for their first pit stops. But since Alonso had already pitted he was sitting pretty.
Once the pits were open almost everybody at the front of the pack dove in for fuel and tires. Alonso didn’t have to and made up a lot of places. And then, two of the cars in front of him had penalties for pitting while the pit lane was closed. That was two more places gained.
Jarno Trulli was ahead of him in the Toyota but he was on a one-stop strategy, so once he pitted Alonso took the lead. Sweet cracker sandwiches. I was so excited and so nervous. I kept waiting for his engine to go like it had in qualifying.
And then when he came back out in the lead after his second pit stop I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I was so afraid something horrible would happen. I think I watched the last 20 laps holding my breath, and the last ten with my hands over my eyes.
And he won! Happy happy happy. It has been a long season watching him struggle in the middle of the pack, but yesterday helped make up for some of that.
In other news, Hamilton finished 3rd. And Nico Rosberg drove his Williams to second place, and that was with a penalty. That is Rosberg’s best finish to date. Congratulations to him.
It was a horrible day for Ferrari. Felipe Massa was actually leading the race until the safety car period, but he pulled out of the pits too soon, taking part of the fuel rig with him. He lost all kinds of time waiting at the end of the pit lane for the Ferrari mechanics to detach the fuel hose from the car. And then he had to serve a stop and go penalty for an unsafe entry from the pits.
Kimi Raikonnen, meanwhile, was hanging in there until the very end of the race. And then, with only four laps to go he lost the car and put it in the wall.
There are only three races left this season. That makes me kind of sad.