Singapore Grand Prix 2012

/ Commentary

Race

20:02 The grid has formed, the lights come on...and we're away!

20:01 Hamilton brings the field on to the grid; Maldonado takes his place alongside him on the inside of the run to turn one

20:00 We're on the formation lap, Hamilton leading the field round to turn 18

19:59 Both Mercedes are starting on supersofts despite not running in Q3. They managed to save a set by doing that, but the difference between both compounds seems to have forced their hands. Hulkenberg is the highest starter on softs in 11th. Also on softs are Perez, Vergne, Kobayashi, Glock, Pic and de la Rosa

19:58 A lot of you expect a turn one crash at the front. Personally, I don't expect to see trouble from the front three rows... (famous last words)

19:58 Kit says: "I surely hope Vettel can do something good and get himself nearer to the top drivers..Another hope is for Alonso not to complete or complete lower then 5.. :-)"

19:55 Siddhesh emails in to say: "Even despite the Mercedes starting on the soft tyres, i think the only advantage it will give them is to last as long as the rest on super-softs! And even then, given their tyre degradation, they are going to be a lot slower by the looks of it!"

Schumacher and Rosberg start ninth and tenth respectively having not set times in Q3 yesterday.

19:54 Nishit says: "With Maldonado's blazing track record aren't Mclaren and Red Bull worried that their drivers might not even make the first lap????"

Hamilton did mention yesterday that he hoped Maldonado would respect the championship contenders around him and realise it's not all or nothing on lap one, but the last time he started on the front row he was very fair in to turn one and went on to win the race... Incidentally, Webber starts alongside Grosjean and yesterday said if there is contact between them "he better have his sneakers on".

19:52 And Ben emails in from Singapore to say: "Humidity here is bad. Temperature is hot. Looks like teams will need extra care with tyres. This does not look good for the McLaren"

19:49 After that moment of reflection, let's turn our attentions back to what will hopefully be a great race in his honour. Wejuli emails in his thoughts: "With the recent history between Hamilton and Maldonado, I think it's going to be a very interesting run into the first corner. I don't see Lewis giving in though! Safety car at Turn 1? Vettel scrapping it out with Button and Alonso making the usual Ferrari good start. Race likely to be straight fight between Lewis, Vettel and Alonso."

19:48 Immaculately observed. Thanks Prof.

19:47 Before the race, we're going to have a minute's silence in memory of Professor Sid Watkins, who passed away ten days ago. All of the drivers, team principals and figures of Formula One are waiting at the front grid to pay their respects.

19:44 We think we're looking at three stops today, with some teams perhaps hoping for two. Think you can call a winner? Let us know using the link above or via Twitter @ESPNF1

19:41 It appeared to be a straight fight between Vettel and Hamilton for pole but Maldonado's lap came from nowhere. Don't count Button or Alonso out too coming through the field, especially with tyre degradation set to be a big issue

19:38 The cars are heading to the grid and @InsideFerrari says on Twitter: "Everything looks ok, no problems reported by the drivers"

19:35 If you want a reminder of how qualifying went, then look no further than our report here

19:32 And what a race we have in store. Lewis Hamilton - Fernando Alonso's nearest challenger - starts from pole with Alonso back in fifth place. Between them are Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, and between any one of the 24 cars on the grid and victory is a gruelling two-hour grand prix.

19:30 Good morning, good afternoon, good evening - welcome to the Singapore Grand Prix. Enough talk about timezone differences and fading light; it's dark, the lights are illuminating the circuit and the cars are heading to the grid.

Lap 1

Clean at the front and Maldonado loses out in turn two to both Vettel and Button. A lot of cars going wide at turn one - Webber and Rosberg among them - but all through OK.

The top three are well stretched out already half way around the lap. Petrov is last and without a front wing. Massa and Kovalainen have dropped right to the back now

Lap 2

Hamilton leads by 1.2s with Vettel 1.9s clear of Button. Petrov and Massa in the pits, a left rear puncture for Massa.

The stewards are investigating the race start, looking at the cars who cut turn two

Lap 3

Hamilton edges away from Vettel, extending the lead to 1.5s. Button is already 2.7 behind Vettel and Alonso in fifth is seven seconds back.

Replays of the start show Perez and Glock going wide, and Senna making a great start but then running wide and losing out

Lap 4

Vettel takes 0.1s out of Hamilton, while Button is over a second of their pace. Maldonado is 1.3s behind Button and matching pace.

Alonso is struggling to match pace - he's two seconds a lap slower than Hamilton - and over two seconds behind Maldonado

Grosjean is eighth but has no telemetry. DRS now enabled and Raikkonen uses it but can't get near Schumacher in 10th.

Lap 5

Hamilton extends his lead to 1.7s, while Button improves but is still 0.8s slower than Vettel. It's already looking like a two horse race at this point, although tyre degradation is going to be a big issue.

Massa does the fastest lap in clear air on soft tyres, while the other soft tyre runners are also holding station - Hulkenberg 12th and Perez in 13th

Lap 6

Button can't match the pace at the front, but only the top four are in the 1m56s bracket. We're seeing drivers cooling their cars already by getting out of the dirty air of the car in front - it's 28C out there.

No further action taken regarding the incident at turn one.

Lap 7

Are the tyres already going off? Only Button improved his lap time and took half a second out of Hamilton. Vettel also closed to within 1.5s of the race leader...

It's the rear tyres that most teams are worried about, and the supersofts with heavy fuel are not going to last all that long. The closest battle is between Schumacher and Raikkonen on track. Button is told over the radio that his pace is excellent and that he's the fastest man.

Lap 8

Hamilton responds to extend his lead to 1.7s, but Button is again quicker than both the cars ahead and cuts the gap to Vettel to 4.7s.

Webber with the fastest first sector, while Raikkonen still can't make any impression on Schumacher using DRS. Hulkenberg and Perez are in a line behind Schumacher too

Lap 9

Webber pits for a set of soft tyres, he rejoins behind Pic in 20th place. Button again quickest of the front three and now 4.4s behind Vettel and 6.1s behind Hamilton.

Slow laps at the back of the field, it was from Glock who hit the barrier at turn 18 and lost a place to Kobayashi. I'd be surprised if there's no damage...

Vettel also cut the turn ten chicane

Lap 10

Vettel with a slow lap, a second off Hamilton's pace and two slower than Button. The gap from Hamilton to Vettel is 2.7s and Vettel to Button is 2.5s. Button is flying. Maldonado is coming back at the leaders too - 8.3s behind Hamilton.

Vettel's coming in, Button is catching him too quickly.

Lap 11

Vettel pits for a set of soft tyres, while Button closes to within 4.5s of Hamilton. Maldonado now 7.5s off the lead. Vettel rejoins behind Perez in 12th place - he's in traffic and this will hurt him. Vettel dives up the inside in to turn nine to pass Perez quickly.

Lap 12

Button takes a second out of Hamilton - 3.6s the gap - and Maldonado is even quicker behind to close to 6.5s off the lead. Alonso pits for soft tyres from fourth place. Alonso rejoins in clear air a long way behind Vergne.

Hamilton radios in to say "my tyres, I have a funny feeling." He says there's something wrong with his right rear. Hamilton's coming in this lap as Button closes him down.

Vettel close behind Raikkonen but can't get through

Lap 13

Button continues as Hamilton pits so he leads. Maldonado 2.7s behind Button, while di Resta and Rosberg also pit.

Hamilton rejoins ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel - he needed that. Vettel is past Raikkonen now though using DRS. Button and Maldonado continue to go quickly at the front.

Lap 14

Maldonado pits but Button continues. Hamilton is quick now and Vettel does the fastest lap of the race. Maldonado rejoins behind Hulkenberg, while Raikkonen pits.

Button is pitting this lap. Hamilton and Vettel were half a second quicker than him in sector one and now Maldonado's pitted he needs to cover the Williams. Maldonado still stuck behind Hulkenberg though.

Lap 15

Button pits and rejoins in between Vettel and Maldonado. Sizo makes a good point about Hamilton's right rear having kissed the wall in Q3 yesterday so that could have affected his pace at the end of the stint.

Maldonado passes Hulkenberg using DRS but he almost lost the rear as he violently dived out from the slipstream with the DRS open. Alonso has finally passed Perez for sixth place and sets off after Hulkenberg.

Lap 16

The gap between Hamilton and Vettel is 1.5s, while Button is 4.2s behind Vettel in third place; the undercut was powerful but Button is in a better race situation. Vettel takes almost half a second out of Hamilton in sector one and is nearly in DRS distance.

Hulkenberg in fifth and Perez in seventh yet to stop.

Csaba emails in to ask: "DRS is always mentioned as RFA in team radio. What does this abbreviation stand for?" It stands for Rear Flap Adjust - Mercedes uses that abbreviation

Lap 17

Vettel now 1.3s behind Hamilton, but Button is 0.8s quicker than the leader and now 5.1s behind his team-mate. Alonso is close behind Hulkenberg but yet to find a way through... DRS open and Alonso is through.

Di Resta in eighth has Webber a second behind him, while Rosberg - six seconds behind Webber - has jumped ahead of Grosjean in tenth place and is 2.5s clear.

Lap 18

Closer lap times between the front four that time. Less than ten seconds cover them. Button 3.5s behind Vettel and Maldonado 4.3s behind Button. Perez and Hulkenberg's pace dropping off now - Webber passes Perez for eighth as di Resta is already through.

John asks what tyre compounds the leaders are on: They're all on soft tyres. Hulkenberg and Perez pit after running on softs since the start of the race, they both put on another set of softs.

Lap 19

The race settling down at the front, but Alonso is at least half a second quicker than all four ahead of him. Raikkonen still stuck behind Schumacher for 10th place now Hulkenberg and Perez have pit.

Lap 20

Hamilton opens the gap up to two seconds, while Button is now three seconds behind Vettel. The two behind are catching them - Maldonado now 3.9s behind Button and Alonso 4.9s further back with personal best laps.

We're at a third race distance after 40 minutes; this is such a punishing race for the drivers.

Lap 21

A slow lap from Hamilton - Vettel takes half a second out of him and Button 0.8s. Only 4.3s cover all three of them, with Maldonado four seconds further back. The top five now covered by 12.4s.

Dhaval asks: "How do you explain Hulkenberg's strategy here? I don't think it has done him much good here."

Hulkenberg will be looking to two-stop rather than three, with the tyres lasting longer as the fuel is burnt off. He's just done the fastest lap of the race too, but will hope he doesn't get caught in traffic too often. It could prove a good strategy late in the race...

Lap 22

Alonso is still a second a lap quicker than Hamilton, and he's catching Maldonado. 11.3s cover the top five now and even di Resta and Webber are quicker than the top three.

Massa has pit for a second time to drop to 21st but has done the fastest lap. Perez is still stuck behind Ricciardo in 15th place so struggling with his strategy now.

Lap 23

HAMILTON'S OUT! He's got no gears and he's stopped. He's parked his car at turn five. Alonso must be smiling.

Replays show that he lost power in turn two and Vettel's onboard shows smoke coming out of the back.

Lap 24

So Vettel now leads with Button 2.4s behind. Hamilton's radio suggests that McLaren was nursing a problem, perhaps after he touched the wall in Q3 yesterday?

Lap 25

Maldonado misses turn two after locking up in to turn one. Vettel has pulled the gap out over Button to three seconds but Alonso in fourth is the quickest man on track...

Button complains that there's no blue flags being waved as he follows Petrov closely.

Lap 26

Senna pits from 11th place for supersofts as Vettel ups the pace at the front. They times are stopping to drop off though and it appears traffic is becoming a problem.

Hulkenberg is 11th and catching Raikkonen and Schumacher ahead of him. In fact, aside from Massa he's the fastest man on track.

Lap 27

Vettel again edging away - he now leads by 3.5s. Button came strong at the end of the stint last time, as did Maldonado, but the Red Bull was very quick on low fuel earlier in the weekend.

Lap 28

And we could be coming towards the end of this stint because Button just took 0.3s out of Vettel and Maldonado 0.7s. 5.5s covers the top three.

Webber is coming in at the end of this lap. Button is told he's "in the window". Alonso getting his foot down with a quick lap.

Lap 29

7.8s covers the top four as Alonso closes to 1.7s behind Maldonado. Button now 2.8s behind Vettel too and Vettel is told to "maintain the three second lap to Button with a 1m55.3s, 2.8 to Button" And guess what? Vettel does a 1m55.3s.

Lap 30

Maldonado and Alonso pit together. Could be close this as Alonso was catching....Maldonado just out ahead but he's behind Grosjean in fifth place. Alonso put on another set of softs, but Maldonado has gone for the supersofts. Interesting.

Lap 31

Button and Vettel do lap times within 0.005s of each other. Maldonado is being held up by Grosjean and Alonso has caught him up... Maldonado needs to clear the Lotus quickly because of the tyre difference but Rosberg is ahead too so they've all got DRS. This is hurting both Maldonado and Alonso though and helping Vettel and Button

Lap 32

Vettel gets the gap to 3.1s and is told of the gap over the radio. di Resta is now third but 21 seconds off the lead. Di Resta will be getting helped here because Maldonado and Alonso are both over two seconds off the pace in traffic.

Alonso attacks Maldonado in to turn 15 but Maldonado defends well and just holds on.

Lap 33

Safety car time surely...

Karthikeyan has hit the wall and parked it at turn 18. Raikkonen immediately pit. Button is coming in too. Karthikeyan slid wide in to the wall.

Lap 34

Vettel, Button, di Resta, Rosberg, Grosjean and Maldonado all pit. A quick third stop for Maldonado. Vettel had to wait for Button to go past before being released.

Only Hulkenberg and Perez stay out having only pit once. Alonso staying out too so he may be trying to make it to the end of the race. Maldonado has put softs on so will hope he doesn't have to pit again.

Lap 35

Still behind the safety car as the field catches Vettel and Button up and Raikkonen is told he doesn't have to save fuel. Alonso is up to third place, and Maldonado is down to tenth on track as a result of these stops.

Hulkenberg is sitting pretty up in fifth but will need to stop again, as will Perez in seventh. Lapped cars are told they can overtake now behind the safety car.

Maldonado is told that he has a problem and needs to retire. Such a shame as this was a good performance from him.

Lap 36

Maldonado stays out for another lap, strangely. Replays show lots of brake dust coming off de la Rosa's car at a pit stop, and Karthikeyan's brakes were glowing as he slid in to the wall.

Karthuleyan's car has been removed so once the lapped cars catch up again then we should get back under way. This race looks set to go to time now as we have 45 minutes left and 25 laps to go

Lap 37

Maldonado comes in and retires. That's two drivers that have been doing great jobs and been let down by their equipment.

Akshay emails in: "I always want sahara force india to win but seeing the cars drop down the pace after few laps makes the race all lot dis-interesting for me. What is the actual reason for the tire ware and what has sahara team done about it?"

The main reason is the rear tyres spinning and sliding around exiting corners, as well as the fronts sliding. Force India is looking in good shape in this race though in fourth and fifth, although Hulkenberg has to pit again as he hasn't run the supersofts yet.

Lap 38

The safety car is coming in this lap. The cars are all in race order - no traffic between the leaders. It's suddenly become like a 40 minute sprint race. Button locks up behind Vettel and very nearly runs in to the back of the Red Bull!

Lap 39

Vettel drops the hammer and is 0.7s clear over the line. Webber is close behind Hulkenberg but DRS isn't enabled yet. He makes it past before turn nine, while Rosberg and Grosjean both dispatch Perez.

Schumacher's smashed in to the back of Vergne under braking for turn 14. They've both ended up down an escape road so we may not see the safety car... Or we will again

The safety car is back out to clear the debris.

Lap 40

Schumacher and Vergne pat each other on the back, and I think Schumacher has admitted fault for that one. His race engineer asks him "What happened there? What happened there?" In a very surprised voice. Schumacher appeared to just brake much too late and locked up in to the back of the Toro Rosso from a long way back.

Lap 41

A number of stops again; Webber, Hulkenberg and Perez all pit. So they can all run to the end now. Petrov and de la Rosa in too, but Petrov has stopped at the end of the pit lane... He's being wheeled back to the pit box.

The Schumacher and Vergne incident will be reviewed after the race.

Button complains that Vettel was "very, very stop-start from Sebastian" at the first safety car restart and says that caused him to almost go in to the back of him.

Lap 42

Safety car is coming in at the end of this lap.

Petrov's issue was a problem with a wheel nut but he's been pulled in to the garage. He's just rejoined though.

This restart will be interesting to watch after Button and Vettel last time...

Everyone a lot closer this time round at the restart.

Lap 43

Again Vettel gets a 0.7s lead, with Alonso 0.9s behind. Raikkonen attacks Grosjean but Grosjean shuts the door in to turn one.

Massa attacking Senna - the Ferrari on supersofts. Massa tries to get through on the tight Anderson bridge and there's very nearly contact at speed; somehow Massa holds it under braking and the two get through unscathed. Great control from Massa as he catches the rear and makes the pass stick.

Lap 44

Vettel leads by 1.3s, while Button has dropped Alonso by 2.2s. Di Resta is keeping the championship leader honest.

That Massa pass gets better with every viewing. Senna didn't know he'd tried to come through and almost squeezed him against the bridge wall but moved at the last second and Massa slewed through. Massa's radio: "UNBELIEVABLE"

Lap 45

Fastest lap from Vettel but Button matches it. It'll be interesting to see if di Resta has the pace to challenge Alonso to the end as he stays within a second of the Ferrari.

Kevin emails in to ask: "What's happened to Webber, is it tyres, lack of speed or just bad strategy that sees him in his current position? Based on current strategy what's he's best possible position at the end?"

Webber's third pit stop has dropped him down to 12th but he has pace. If he can make passes stick then he could be targeting the top six still.

Lap 46

Another fastest lap from Vettel and this time he extends his lead to 1.9s. Alonso 1.1s clear of di Resta while the Massa/Senna incident is under investigation.

Massa passes Ricciardo before turn ten for eighth place.

Lap 47

Button sets the fastest lap but only takes 0.1s out of Vettel. He's on fresher tyres though as they both try to go to the end. Next up the road for Massa is Raikkonen, who is three seconds ahead.

There's a queue of cars behind Kobayashi in 11th, with Webber, Hulkenberg and Perez close behind.

Lap 48

Another fastest lap from Button and the gap is now 1.5s. I said Massa had Raikkonen ahead of him - it's now Grosjean after he was told by Lotus to not hold Raikkonen up and let his team-mate through before turn seven.

Alonso is now 6.2s behind Button back in third place, but only di Resta can match his pace as Rosberg holds up Raikkonen.

Lap 49

The gap at the front back out to 1.7s with 18 minutes to go, though the counter is still showing laps. Raikkonen is closing in on Rosberg and Massa is already within a second of Grosjean.

Perez tries up the inside of Hulkenberg in to turn 13 after the Anderson Bridge, but slides in to the side of the Force India and damages his front wing.

Lap 50

Webber goes round the outside of Kobayashi in turn seven but goes just off the track to complete the move. That leaves Kobayashi out of position in turn eight and Hulkenberg dives up the inside but squeezes the Sauber and clips the front wing - breaking Kobayashi's wing and giving himself a puncture.

Lap 51

Vettel with the fastest lap and is now 2.5s clear of Button. Di Resta still just 1.5s behind Alonso, while Raikkonen can't make much of an impression on Rosberg now.

No further action over the incident between Massa and Senna. Rightly so.

Lap 52

Vettel now leads by 2.7s. Glock is up to 13th after the trouble ahead, has Pic as a rear gunner and 12th place could be enough to secure 10th in the constructor's championship this year...

Incident between Webber and Kobayashi under investigation. That will be to see if Webber went off track passing the Sauber.

Lap 53

Button can't make any impression on Vettel at the moment and the Red Bull appears to have the race under control. Alonso has pulled clear of di Resta by 2.6s.

Tom asks: "Is Button hiding in the weeds considering his equal pace with Vettel?"

Unfortunately I don't think so, I think the Red Bull is quicker on lower fuel

Lap 54

Vettel pulls the lead out to 3.7s. Di Resta is told to try and keep on Alonso's tail as he's on fresher tyres. Webber is close behind Senna for the final point.

We're now down to time, with 8:30 left

Lap 55

Vettel appears to have this covered as Button's pace starts to drop off. Alonso is now just 6.9s behind Button and catching at about 0.7s per lap. Webber uses DRS to pass Senna for tenth place. They were both catching Ricciardo ahead.

Lap 56

Webber already on to the back of Ricciardo for ninth place with just over six minutes to go. Looks like a 59 or 60 lap race. Senna is told to try and hold position - he might get a look at Ricciardo for a point come the end.

Lap 57

Three laps to go and Alonso can't reel in Button quickly enough - 6.3s is the gap. Vettel has extended his lead to 6.1s and can cruise home.

Webber's incident with Kobayashi will be investigated after the race.

Lap 58

Vettel starts what is potentially his penultimate lap - there may be one after that - and his lead is 6.7s. Webber is still close behind Ricciardo but can't get through using DRS. Perez has past Senna for 12th - Senna with a very slow lap. He radios in and says it was a loss of power. If that causes him to stop then Glock would be up to 12th...

Lap 59

Senna has pulled off and is out of the race. Glock is up to 12th which would put Marussia ahead of Caterham in the championship.

Vettel has picked up the pace and is 8.3s clear of Button. This is the last lap as the time has ticked to zero.

Vettel crosses the line and completes his victory comfortably in the end - winning by 8.9s - and Button comes home second ahead of Alonso. Di Resta is fourth and Rosberg holds off the two Lotuses for fifth.

Vettel is delighted on the radio and Horner says "you're back in this championship". Fireworks explode over the circuit and you'd expect Alonso is about as happy as Vettel at this result as he maintains a relatively comfortable championship lead - 29 points ahead of Vettel.

Vettel dedicates his win to Sid Watkins over the radio. Nice touch.

The rest of the points' scorers are Massa (with an impressive drive), Ricciardo and Webber. Glock does indeed finish 12th ahead of Kobayashi and moves Marussia above Caterham in the championship standings.

Anmol sums up Massa's performance with: "Out of everyone's eyes...I would say Massa has raced a brilliant race in my opinion. After being 24th after the first race, to be up to 8th is commendable. If his pass on Senna doesn't show Ferrari that he still has it in him, then I don't know what will..."

As the drivers head for the podium, it's time for us to sign off. A great day for Vettel, a very good one for Alonso and an awful one for Hamilton. Is the championship a three-horse race now? Thanks for all your comments and questions, stick with ESPNF1.com for all of the reaction. Bye for now.