2008 Singapore Grand Prix
Round 15 - Marina Bay Street Circuit - 28th September 2008
Round 15 of 2008 saw F1 come to its newest track for the inaugural Singapore GP, which was to be held as the first night race. Little was it known then, but this race would become one of the most controversial races in F1’s history.
Q1 claimed the scalps of its regular drivers as qualifying got under way, Giancarlo Fisichella the only man not to set a time. Q2 saw Fernando Alonso stop out on track with some sort of problem, while Red Bull endured a poor qualifying session, lining up only 12th & 13th.
Q3 saw Felipe Massa claim his 5th Pole Position of 2008 that was over half a second faster than Lewis Hamilton who lined up alongside the Brazilian in P2. Nick Heidfeld qualified his BMW Sauber in 6th, but was given a 3-place grid penalty for impeding Rubens Barrichello during Q1.
Anticipation was high, as a race into the unknown got under way. Massa led away from Pole with Hamilton & Raikkonen following closely. Kovalainen slipped 2 places after contact with Kubica, while Alonso made the best start from 15th up to 12th. After 10 Laps Massa had opened up a strong lead over Hamilton who was in turn pulling away from Raikkonen in 3rd.
Alonso was the first of the runners to pit on Lap 12. Just 2 laps later his teammate Nelson Piquet lost control of his car and crashed at Turn 17 prompting the Safety Car to be deployed. In what looked to be yet another boring processional race, this singular moment turned it upside down and inside out. Smart tactics from Red Bull saw both their cars of Webber & Coulthard pit before the pit lane closed. However other cars were running very low on fuel at this point and Rosberg, Kubica and Barrichello had no choice but to pit even though the pit lane was closed.
Once the race was under the control of the Safety Car the pit lane was opened and most of the field flooded in for fuel. Massa was released by Ferrari’s pit lane light system before the fuel hose was removed and the Brazilian dragged the hose to the end of the lane, where the Ferrari mechanics were forced to remove it. The Brazilian was now stone dead last. When the race resumed on Lap 20 Rosberg now lead from Trulli, Fisichella, Kubica, Alonso, Webber, Coulthard and Hamilton.
Rosberg and Kubica were given 10 second stop go penalties for their illegal pit stops, while Massa’s bad afternoon got worse when he received a drive through penalty for his pit stop refueling incident. Webber’s Red Bull retired with a Gearbox problem on Lap 29 after running a strong 5th.
As the next round of stops came about the order changed rapidly at the top, Coulthard who benefited from the Safety Car was ahead of Hamilton and doing a great job of defending from the McLaren. Both cars pitted at the same time, but Hamilton jumped the Scott who nearly pulled away with his fuel hose still attached. A second Safety Car period was caused by a crash from Adrian Sutil, the German was off put by a spin by Massa in front and he went into the barrier in sympathy.
The race resumed on Lap 54 with Alonso now leading Rosberg with Hamilton, Glock, Raikkonen and Vettel all close behind. With 4 Laps left Raikkonen fell foul of the high kerbs in Singapore and ran into the barriers ending his race. Alonso went onto take the victory, the teams first of 2008. Rosberg finished a career equal best in 2nd, while Hamilton made the most of his race to finish 3rd. Vettel collected more points for Toro Rosso finishing 5th, while DC managed to score 2 points for 7th. A nightmare for Massa who finished out of the points means that Lewis Hamilton now extended his Championship lead to 7 points with 3 rounds remaining.
Post Race – Crashgate Scandal
After the race Alonso made comment that the Safety Car was perfectly timed to help him move to the front of the field after a poor qualifying session. The following year and after Nelson Piquet Jr. had been sacked by the Renault team; allegations emerged from the young Brazilian that his crash in the race was deliberate and it was part of a conspiracy to aid his teammate Alonso in winning the race. This turned into one of the biggest scandals in F1’s history and although the allegations turned out to be true the race result remains unaltered.
For more info on the Crashgate follow the link here to our article.
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- Marina Bay Street Circuit
- 28th Sep 2008
- 61 laps
- Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:45.599, 2008
- Driver of the Day
- N Rosberg - Williams