Red Weekend: Singapore Grand Prix Review
From Saturday qualifying to Sunday’s race end, it was total domination for the scarletFerrari of Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari came to Singapore with an upgraded engine that was rumored to be on par with the power output of the Mercedes, and Ferrari proved the rumors true. It wasn't that Vettel and Ferrari were fast and in contention for a win, it was their outright dominance that was one of the biggest surprises of the season.
It started with a blistering pole lap for Vettel on Saturday, sadly/happily/mercifully the first Ferrari pole in three years. Three years! It is hard to fathom but yes, it was three years since the last one, 60 races without a pole position. It was not enough to simply take pole after a long drought but it also snatched away a record setting opportunity from Mercedes. Mercedes had started at the front of the grid in each of the last 23 grands prix, dating back to the middle of last year, and needed just one more to equal the all-time record, set by the Williams F1 team in the early 1990s.
Ayrton Senna is Lewis Hamilton's racing hero and the standard that he attempts to follow, yet it was Vettel with his win in Singapore (42nd win of his career) that allowed him to overtake Senna on the all-time wins list to third place behind Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91). All the media build-up for the all-but-certain Hamilton victory was all for naught….sniff sniff…
Hamilton faced his first retirement of the season, but just as in Saturday’s qualifying, both Mercedes drivers struggled for pace with the team unable to provide answers as to why this new change in fortunes.
The Mercedes’ lack of pace was not the only oddity of the weekend. On lap 37 a deranged “fan” casually walked along the race track prompting a safety car. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo would later claim that this cost him his chance at victory. (TLP thinks the real cause of his second place finish was he was in the wrong car. Data also demonstrates that right before the safety car he was not matching Vettel's pace.)
Has Ferrari found the recipe to disrupt Mercedes' premature coronation or was this a one off phenomenon? The Japanese Grand Prix, next weekend, will provide some additional insight on whether or not this championship is truly not over.
And speaking of "not over," just when we thought the race weekend was over, we read that the race stewards were offended when some Ferrari team members made their way through the barriers and security personnel in parc ferme to celebrate the team victory in the midst of photographers and the jubilant Sebastian Vettel. Apparently the race officials were so offended by the actions of the Ferrari crew that a written apology was demanded. Upon a little reflection on the race, we at the Loud Pedal would simply like to point out that the same race officials who allowed a pedestrian on to a hot racetrack have a lot of nerve asking for an apology for a gaggle of excitable Italians just trying to find their buddy who won the race.