Sebastian Vettel won in Singapore, mainly thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s retirement. Second was claimed by Jenson Button and third by Fernando Alonso. Further down Kimi Raikkonen took sixth, Webber got bumped out of his tenth place by a penalty into eleventh, and both Williams cars retired.
As promised, Singapore was a massive race for the championship. With only six races to go, the points remaining is getting very limited and the number of championship contenders has been severely depleted.
As it stands now, the standings look like this:
- Alonso – 194
- Vettel – 165
- Raikkonen – 149
- Hamilton – 142
- Webber – 133
To me, we have gone from five contenders, pre Singapore, to two serious contenders and two long shots.
The reality is, being around 50 points back, two race wins, from Fernando Alonso, considering his performances this year, is a very dangerous position.
But dangerous does not mean invincible. McLaren and Red Bull have shown that their cars are the class of the field, with McLaren with a defined advantage. With those four cars taking the top four positions, it will be hard for Alonso to continue to get big points without some serious upgrades.
Also, expect Lotus to come back in the mix at some more conventional tracks. Unlike some columnists, I was not too surprised that Lotus was uncompetitive at Singapore. The team was uncompetitive at Monaco and stop starts have not really been their strength. I think of Hungary instead where the car was hugely competitive in sustained cornering situations.
As much as Singapore was a vital race, Japan will be just as vital. Should Alonso not finish, and the rest of the contenders do, than the whole championship will tighten massively. But, if Alonso finishes well, say in the top 5, as he has been the whole season, than the opportunities will be scant for the other contenders to dramatically close the gap. This will be easier for guys in top cars, Red Bull and McLaren, but not as much for Kimi Raikkonen. Lotus better hope their DDRS Device is very effective, as they need the biggest bump to take the fight to Alonso.
Bring on Japan