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The Singapore Screwdriver

The Championship takes a U-turn with this podium. Image courtesy Banco Santander; Used under Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

It was the 58th lap and Bruno Senna came to a complete standstill. I threw my hands up in the air and shouted, “For crying out loud.” Pardon my frustration, but I was exhausted. Two hours of racing, much of it behind the safety car, had left me slumped in my chair. There’s also only that much a fan can take, if you get my drift.

Sebastian Vettel climbed on to the podium, grinning ear to ear and waving that finger. I gnawed on my cellphone. And then, with a deep sigh, kowtowed once again to that mercurial grand lady we call Lady Luck. She has been toying with us this entire season, isn’t it? So, it just about makes sense that I dedicate this post to her. After all, methinks Lady Luck downed one too many Screwdrivers and did an Eeny, Meeny Miney, Moe. Just look at the drivers she favoured:

The Finger Once Again

I would like Vettel; really, I would. If only he would stop pointing his finger at me on television. But I guess there was reason for jubilation (still not reason enough to show the finger). He did win the Singapore Grand Prix. He did just about give Fernando Alonso the scare of his life – closing in like that on Championship points. And yes, I know, he did run a strong race. But do consider too that the Singapore street circuit greatly favours the Red Bull car. Then there was that bit about Lady Luck giving Lewis Hamilton the… You get my drift.

Maldonado held off Alonso and Paul di Resta until his early retirement from the race. World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic; Image courtesy Williams F1 team

Red Alert

So, the Qualifying turned out to be a big pain for Alonso, as he ended up 5th on the grid. But wait a minute, said Lady Luck taking a gigantic sip of her Screwdriver, red is my favourite colour. And so Alonso landed himself a 3rd spot on the podium. It had a lot to do with Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado’s retirement. He said so himself, while speaking to F1.com. “In the end, it went well, but we definitely can’t go on like this. It can’t always be the case that my closest rival retires, as has happened in the last two races, and we can’t think of carrying on to the end of the season with qualifying sessions like yesterday’s, when our performance was almost a second off the best,” he said. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa’s performance was yet another indication that Lady Luck favoured Ferrari. There was that strange wiggle he did to swing past Bruno. Then there was dealing with a slashed rear tyre courtesy Vitaly Petrov. But Massa came into his own, grabbing a well-deserved, fought-for, 8th.

The Ice Man Cometh

Yes. It is time to talk about Kimi Raikkonen. I do have a soft spot for him. He is just adorable, isn’t he? It helps too that he returned from a two-year retirement to jump right into the F1 circus, without so much as an “excuse me”. Instead, he has given much grief to the others and wangled a 3rd spot in the Championship. This, after coming a disappointing 6th in the race. It has a lot to do with a certain Brit falling completely foul of Lady Luck. But more of that later.

Force Field

The surprise of the evening though has to be Paul di Resta. The 26-year-old Scotsman comes from a lineage of sportsmen (His cousin is Indy car racer Dario Franchitti) and defeated Vettel in F3 in 2006 (I had to put that in). The Singapore Grand Prix saw him shine, as he raced a mature race coming in just a few seconds behind Alonso. I think talent had as much of a say in this result as Lady Luck. He is definitely a racer to watch. This position has now pushed Force India past Williams and into the 7th spot of the Constructor’s standings.

It was tough, disappointing race for Lewis Hamilton. Image courtesy Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team

The Royal Ignore

There were many hurrahs, but there were just as many groans and face-to-palm episodes. I know. I was slapping my forehead so many times; I left a palm print there. Hamilton was the first on Lady Luck’s ignore list. He was running such a strong race, staying ahead of Vettel and giving the young German a tough time. Then it happened. It was the 19th lap and Lewis came to a complete standstill, courtesy a gearbox failure. His teammate Jenson Button was all set to challenge Vettel, but lacked the pace, as he struggled with the tyres. Button did finish 2nd, bringing in important points for the team. But the 1st was still a miss, and not by a whisker.

Michael Schumacher puzzled over his driver error that led to a nasty accident and a DNF. Image courtesy Mercedes AMG Petronas F-1 team

Then, there was Michael Schumacher who rear-ended Jean-Eric Vergne. Yes, you read right. For all my angsty, anti Schuey talk, I was stunned. So was Schuey. He later said in a press release, “I am not totally sure why it happened like this; I was braking but the deceleration was not as strong as it usually would be, and I could not avoid running into the car in front of me.” He has been awarded a 10-place grid penalty at Suzuka.

Bruno Senna ran a great race, with a disappointing finish. World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic; Image courtesy Williams F1 team

Then, there were the Williams. Another DNF blotted Maldonado’s season. But no crashes this time. Instead, the team withdrew his car from the race because of a hydraulic issue. Bruno meanwhile spent the better half of the weekend fighting the wall. He was pushed down the grid after an illegal gearbox change and started the race at the 22nd position. Despite that, he ran a strong race, climbing up steadily to reach the 9th spot, at one point. He fought several battles, especially a memorable one with Massa, and also set the fastest lap at a stage. But he retired with one lap to go after a suspected KERS issue.

Some Sake?

It was without a doubt, a race Lady Luck decided needed to be different. Next up is the legendary Suzuka, a classic figure-8 circuit. The battle for the championship is now underway, even as racers fight to prove themselves, and in some cases, keep their seat for the next season. Meanwhile, Lady Luck is settling down with her bottle of sake and Suzuka is readying itself for our gladiators. The race is on…

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