Red Bull were fastest in all three practice sessions but missed out on victory at a circuit where they were expected to dominate.
Mark Webber made an unlikely strategy work with some excellent passes but had a dose of ‘champion’s luck’ when he survived heavy contact with Lewis Hamilton to finish the race on the podium.
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’45.457 (-0.52)||1’45.977|
|Average race lap||1’55.965 (-0.473)||1’56.438|
Looked a likely candidate for pole position but he caught Michael Schumacher during his first timed lap in Q3 and brushed the barrier during his second. Despite that, he shared the front row with Fernando Alonso.
Vettel got away well and held second place. During the first stint he seemed comfortable to keep Alonso in sight and not push the Ferrari too hard.
The way the race unfolded behind him mean Red Bull had no chance to use strategy to get Vettel ahead.
Pitting earlier would have meant getting stuck behind one or both of the McLarens. Pitting later would have meant losing time on the very worn super soft tyres he started the race on.
Once Lewis Hamilton pitted, Vettel had to come in on the same lap as Alonso. And a stuttering getaway from his pit box in second gear didn’t help matters.
Immediately after that he sprang into action, quickly hunting Alonso down, only for the safety car to come out.
It wasn’t until the final laps that Vettel made another serious attempt to get by, and he eventually chased Alonso across the line just three tenths of a second behind.
A bold strategic gamble, some gutsy overtaking, a controversial collision and a huge slice of luck – Webber’s Singapore Grand Prix had it all.
He never had his team mate’s pace all weekend and wasn’t able to out-qualify the McLarens, leaving him fifth on the grid.
Bravely, his team opted to bring him in during the first safety car period. This left him behind some cars that hadn’t pitted, but Webber was able to pick off most of them, including Timo Glock, Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher.
That last pass was vital, for without it he wouldn’t have been ahead of the McLarens after their pit stop.
Then came the wheel-banging incident with Hamilton at Memorial corner which he was extremely lucky to get away with considering the damage to his tyre. Bridgestone’s director of motorsport tyre development explained:
Not only did Mark’s tyres continue to deliver strong performance, but they also withstood the contact with Lewis. In this contact the front right tyre sidewall was pushed out of alignment with the rim, yet it retained its inner pressure for the rest of the race. We can say that this tyre displayed true Japanese grit today.
2010 Singapore Grand Prix
Image © Red Bull/Getty images