SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX: A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

At the right time, the 2012 F1 World Championship has sparkled to life- with the cream rising to the top. The Singapore Grand Prix, normally recognized more for being the only night race on the calendar, has staked its claim for ‘race of the season’ already.

For those who thought it was McLaren on the charge, with Red Bull fading away while Ferrari struggled to stay afloat, we give you the most unpredictable weekend of the season. How’s that for a script?You’d have to feel for Lewis Hamilton, though. Maximum poles this season, maximum race wins- but still way short on the luck he’d have needed to be anywhere near the leaders. He started the weekend with another storming pole position, only asserting the fact that the second half of every season belongs to McLaren Mercedes. It then falls upon the drivers to mess it up.

This time, it wasn’t him. A gearbox failure on lap 23 saw the Brit retire onto the gravel after leading comfortably, and could have spelled an end to his great run, as well as his fading Championship hopes. His team have never been known for its reliability, to be fair, and it’s coming back to haunt them at the worst time possible. What this has done is throw the race wide open once again, and bring to the fore the inevitable final contenders for the 5-race showdown over the next 2 months.

It’s now down to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, as we head into Japan, Korea and then into the Indian Grand Prix. By then, there will always be the threat of Hamilton hovering around in the best performing car, and the 2012 season could very well see a threeway shootout heading into the last weekend, much like 2010.

Vettel, for one, drove quite a flawless race amidst the chaos in Singapore- a race that was, for the first time in recent memory, stopped 2 laps short because they had overshot the time limit. This isn’t a cricket match, no, but the appearance of the safety car for most part of the race took away quite a bit of time- with drivers like Maldonado, Karthikeyan, Schumacher, Vergne, Massa, Perez and Webber going suicidal together, in one big fat night of reckless maneuvering.

Most cars ran wide at the first corner, with Petrov the biggest casualty- but somehow, Raikkonen managed to finish yet another race- 6th this time- to keep his head above the water in 3rd overall. What will hearten most Indian fans is that Force India’s Di Resta has finished in the points once again, in an impressive 4th, maintaining their recent good form- a timely boost ahead of their Home Grand Prix.

The other Brit, Button, kept his calm and made full use of his strong engine, finishing 2nd after a disappointing week at Monza, and carries on the Mercedes tradition of having only one of their drivers peak at one given time.

Alonso now has a lead of 29 points, finishing on the podium for a classy 8th time this season, and never falling too far behind despite winning just 3 races. If there was ever a Championship drive begging for a final flourish, this could be it. 

Next up, the famous Suzuka circuit in Japan- a race renowned for being renowned.

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