Rosberg got the lead before the first corner, but quick thinking enabled Vettel to almost immediately take it back.
Boringly, Vettel made a sizeable gap with relative ease, followed by Rosberg and then Alonso, who had a great start.
For a while Button, Hulkenberg, Perez and Raikkonen were 8-12, but, for reasons that radio coverage did not make apparent, Hulkenberg slipped down to around 14th. After others had made their first stop, and he had not, Di Resta was up to 3rd, which is rather impressive.
Must say that 23 laps or so in the race was not the most exciting.
About halfway through the safety car was deployed after Ricciardo crashed into the barriers. This cut the sizeable gaps between Vettel (leading), Rosberg and Alonso.
Just about everybody ended up pitting, which slightly surprised me, as the safety car was some laps after the first pit stop, and probably too early for a two stop strategy. Some cars (Button, I think) got really held up in the pits because it was so busy. Vettel, Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton (the leading four after the stops) all stayed out, as did Di Resta.
[You can tell the race is not great when the interruptions for football aren’t really annoying].
After the restart James Allen asserted this was arguably the most charismatic race in F1. Strange, especially given he sounded sober.
After the first lap after the restart Vettel was 3.2s ahead of Rosberg (in 2nd). Huzzah for the 2014 regulation changes. I really don’t see why everyone except Di Resta and the top 4 went for 2 stops. 3 were slightly faster, in theory, but only if there’s no safety car. Given there’s been at least one appearance of it at every race that seems a stupid approach to take.
Incidentally, earlier (mid-teen lap, I think) Perez was being a bit of a tosser, forced Hulkenberg (then ahead) off the track to avoid a collision, and then Hulkenberg had to yield the place (which confused and annoyed him). That’s why the German was behind the Mexican dodgems’ star.
On lap 39 Vettel had a 20 second lead.
At the second stops Webber pitted first to undercut and pass Rosberg.
With about 15 laps or so left Hulkenberg and Gutierrez were 6-7, (Perez ahead), on a two stop strategy, with three stopping Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton behind. They got past Gutierrez pretty easily with 12 laps or so left.
Vettel got warned about brake vibrations with circa 20 laps left, and again with 9 to go. His engineer said that they’d focus on that.
In the closing stages Raikkonen was immediately behind Button (3rd), and Webber was told he was just 8s off a podium (Webber being 7th behind Hulkenberg, Perez, Raikkonen and Button).
Merde. With just a few laps to go Webber passed Hulkenberg for 6th. Raikkonen passed Button more or less at the same time.
Hulkenberg radioed late on to tell his engineer he would be better off letting others past or he’d ‘be dead’ (due to massive tyre wear). Disappointing for him. Di Resta crashed with a few laps to go.
Webber suffered some sort of reliability failure on the final lap, and had to retire after fire erupted from the engine.
So, Vettel won, strategic cunning got Alonso 2nd and Raikkonen did well to climb to 3rd, especially given his back pain. Rosberg, after spending all but the final third of the race in second place, was 4th, with Hamilton 5th. Massa got 6th, with Button 7th, then came Perez, Hulkenberg and Sutil.
Pretty good showing for Alonso and Raikkonen given where they started. Mercedes will be the most gutted today. They were on for one, maybe two, podium places for much of the race but lost out on the undercut to Webber and their strategy proved inferior to that of Ferrari.
I’d need to watch the Perez-Hulkenberg moment, but given Perez’s other events this year (the Monaco one prompting Raikkonen to suggest someone needs to punch the Mexican in the face) I’m inclined to believe Hulkenberg’s right to feel aggrieved.
Not a Singapore fan, and this race sums up why.
It’s a fortnight to Korea (perhaps for the final time), and a week after that we’ll be in Japan.
The hedge on Gutierrez was not matched, but it was on Hulkenberg, so that was essentially flat (NB that counts as green). So, a bit of a nothing weekend, but given the 3.5 (which disappeared) on Grosjean to be top 3 in qualifying would’ve been right I feel a bit more at ease. Disappointed Hulkenberg couldn’t hold on for a top 6 place (even half a stake at 9.4 would’ve been nice) but that’s why I hedge bets.