Hamilton takes the battle while Button inches closer to sealing the war

Published on September 28th, 2009

It’s been a year since the hippest stop on the Formula One calendar was introduced to stimulate some much-needed excitement in its tent but perhaps it got a pinch trigger-happy on the syringe as it is also the first anniversary of the Renault ‘crashgate’ scandal that has dragged the sport’s respected name through the shredded rubber.

Although the safety car was called into action, we doubt it would raise any concerns of a ‘crashgate’ repeat. Lewis Hamilton built on his pole position to dominatingly grab the chequered flag.

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However, the Brit’s battle was made all the easier as his two chief rivals, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, were slapped with penalties for pit lane infractions during the race.

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On the other hand, championship leader Jenson Button drove his stake on the war deeper into the ground by crossing the flag ahead of his closest rival and team mate, Rubens Barrichello.

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Right as the Christmas tree turned the official colour of hippies, Hamilton was in charge. He made through the first corner unchallenged but the chaos that followed allowed Rosberg and Fernando Alonso to cash in on their clean side of the track and move up the order.

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Vettel wasn’t really in a bargaining position and relinquished his second spot tamely to Rosberg while behind him Alonso had nicked past Mark Webber at the first turn and was now lining him up in his sights.

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However, Vettel manned up and shoved Alonso aside, leaving the Renault man vulnerable to Webber’s shot. Rightly so, the Aussie took aim and fired on turn seven but both drives took the under utilized outside line onto the run-off area and left the door wide open for Timo Glock to sneak past Alonso into fifth whereas Webber held on to his position ahead of the duo.

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It wasn’t to be a good day for this Aussie mate though as his team instructed him to let Glock and Alonso past on lap six, probably fearing they might have induced a penalty for the off-track excursion or possibly race stewards had asked them to do so. Either way, it didn’t go down well with this mate and he let it rip after the race.

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Back at the head, Hamilton was keeping his lead but the gap didn’t stretch by much as the McLaren man was running with a higher fuel load than the chasing pack. A malfunctioning KERS contributed heavily to the dilemma as well but somehow it rebooted itself and came back to life later in the race.

As the first pit stop window flew open around lap 16, Vettel was the first of the head pack to dive in, coming in from third. Rosberg duly followed on the next lap but he overcooked it at the pit lane exit and skidded across the pit lane blend line, inevitably earning himself a penalty.

When it rains it pours and Rosberg’s race was officially tossed into the Marina Bay by the following sequence of events.

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Adrian Sutil spun his Force India while trying to get past Jamie Alguersuari and gave a firm handshake to Nick Heidfield’s passing BMW, ending the German’s race and record streak of finishes in the process. Sutil on the other hand crawled back to the pits in vain only to head for an early shower.

Protocol required the safety car to do its thing while the marshals removed Heidfield’s car. Now the rules state that a penalty has to be served on a racing lap and that meant that Rosberg would fall further down the pecking order once he finally took his drive-through after the safety car had pitted.

In a further sense of déjà vu, Alguersuari tried to beat his lollipop sign and raced off with the refueling hose still plugged into his car. Luckily though he didn’t make it far before he realized thru his rearview mirrors what were there and managed to return to the race. In the end though it was short-lived joy as he and teammate Sebastien Buemi both headed for an early shower due to technical problems.

Race leader Hamilton made his stop just before the safety car moved in and managed to retain his lead with Vettel behind and Glock in third.

During this stint, Vettel literally gave the Hamilton hell, keeping well within a second on the McLaren’s tail. This was due to the fact that he had a lighter fuel load but he threw it all away during his next pit on lap 39. Having edged over the pit lane speed limit, the ensuing drive-through penalty was inevitable.

With Vettel out of the way, Hamilton could breathe a little easier now. Barrichello moved up to fourth ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Button. Championship leader Button was scheduled to pit a few laps later than his teammate but an incident presented the opportunity to get ahead earlier.

Webber was having some overheating issues with his front-right brake and although the mechanics took a look at it on his second stop, he still did the twist two laps later and went into the barriers at speed.

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Anticipating the safety car to make its sequel, a horde of drivers dove in for except for Button.

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Alas, lady luck was having its period and the safety car remained in the pits. By the time Button pitted five laps later he had amassed a sufficient lead to stay ahead of Barrichello.

Button didn’t bother going for broke and instead decided to play it safe by keeping his position and stretching his lead by a point over Barrichello. All that’s left is to pull five over Barrichello at Suzuka next week and Button will be able to call the championship his.

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This time though, although it was a pretty uneventful race, rest assured the results won’t be brought into disrepute anytime.

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text: Dinesh Appavu  pix: Syawal Ahmad

Comments

  1. Posted by wyana on September 29th, 2009, 12:33

    Really really nice pictures.

Reply

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