Singapore Grand Prix: Pirelli Report
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has taken his 33rd career victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, using a two-stop strategy. Vettel’s victory from pole ensures that the Singapore Grand Prix continues its unbroken record of only ever having been won by world champions.
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso used a different two-stop strategy to finish second from seventh on the grid, while another two-stop strategy was adopted by Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third from 13th on the grid – despite suffering from an injured back. Vettel and Alonso have finished first and second now for the last three races.
The Singapore Grand Prix got underway in 67% humidity, with all the drivers apart from Force India’s Adrian Sutil starting on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre. The first driver to head into the pits was Raikkonen, for another set of supersofts on lap 10. Vettel ran a long first stint to build up an advantage of more than 35 seconds before his first pit stop on lap 17 for a set of mediums, emerging back in the lead.
On lap 25 the safety car was deployed for an eventual total of five laps, keeping up another 100% record for the Marina Bay circuit. A number of drivers took advantage of this situation to come into the pits for a tyre change, but the top four (who were all on the medium compound) stayed out, with Vettel’s 13-second lead eliminated. Nonetheless, the German extended his advantage in order to make a second stop, this time for new supersofts, on lap 44 without losing the lead. This enabled him to eventually win the race by half a minute. With a low pit lane speed limit and a long pit lane in Singapore, there was a considerable time penalty for each stop – the biggest of the year – which meant that teams tried to minimize the time spent in the pits.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Thermal degradation proved to be the limiting factor that the tyres had to overcome today rather than actual wear at Singapore: a race that proved to be just as tough as everyone expected. Both compounds, but in particular the supersoft, showed plenty of durability as well as pace and were the most appropriate choice for this race. One of the biggest complications is that the race strategy here has to be flexible in order to take into account the length of the race and the potential for safety cars, which ensured once again that the race went to the full two hours. The safety car mixed up the strategies considerably, but while Vettel was in a league of his own, there was an intense tactical battle for the final podium positions behind him. In the closing stages there was plenty of action, with different strategies ensuring a tight battle for the points’ places and several passing maneuvers on a circuit where it’s not normally so easy to overtake.”