NASCAR SHOULD TAKE A PAGE FROM F1 TO MAKE RACES EXCITING AGAIN (see post below)
SCOTT STECKLY WINS NASCAR CANADA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP (two posts below)
Despite a massive amount of pre-race hype, that all he had to do was finish on the podium to wrap up the 2011 World Championship of Drivers, Sebastien Vettel of Red Bull-Renault is still one tantalizing point away despite winning Sunday’s Grand Prix of Singapore.
He won from pole - it was the young German’s 11th of the season - and his victory was his ninth in 14 races.
As is the norm when he’s on his game, Vettel ran away and hid from lights out, taking the lead at the first corner and never relinquishing it.
Jenson Button of McLaren-Mercedes made it interesting in the closing stages by mounting a massive charge to bring a 12-second deficit down to 1.7 seconds but that was all he could do and he wound up second.
Mark Webber of Red Bull was third, Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was fourth, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren fifth, Paul di Resta of Force India-Mercedes sixth, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes F1 seventh, Adrian Sutil of Force India eighth, Felipe Massa ninth for Ferrari and Sergia Perez 10th for Sauber-Ferrari.
Hamilton drove a storming race. He could be winning races if he could stay out of trouble. He started fourth but was eighth after the first corner (Mark Webber, a wonderful driver once he gets going, has a terrible time getting off the line and always bogs down everybody behind him).
Then, when attempting to pass Felipe Massa, Hamilton drove into the back of the Ferrari and broke his front nose cone, necessitating a pit stop to replace it. Then he was given a drive-through penalty for hitting Massa, which put him further back in the pack.
It was a stunning display of courage and car control that saw him battle back to fifth.
It appears that Vettel will now win the world title at the next race in Japan in two weeks. For Button, who is second in the standings, to win the championship he would have to win all of the remaining five grands prix and Vettel could not score a point in any of them.
– Massa was furious with Hamilton for running into him. The resulting flat tire meant it took him about a year to make his way back to the pits and then, despite trying his hardest, he couldn’t get back up to the front and eventually finished ninth.
As well as bad-mouthing the Englishman, Massa - who hasn't won a race for three years and is really feeling the pressure at Ferrari - actually shoved Hamilton as he walked past the McLaren driver, who was talking to reporters.
False bravado; ya gotta love it.
"Take that, you jerk," they say, as they stand separated from the object of their "aggression" by several rows of people. In other words, it’s all a show and there’s no chance of a real physical confrontation.
Felipe's little show reminded me of Kevin Harvick earlier this NASCAR season, when he was browned off with Kyle Busch about one thing or another. So he made all sorts of threatening gestures but waited till his pit crew joined him before he actually tried to get Busch to fight – knowing full well that one of his mechanics would really step in and do the fighting for him.
– Michael Schumacher was reprimanded by the stewards for running into the back of Sergio Perez while trying to pass him. Schuey got the worst of it, crashing head-on into a wall. Perez went on to finish tenth.
– Just about everybody calls Sebastien Vettel, "Vet-ul." David Coulthard has been calling him "Vu-tell" all season. Twice this weekend on television, Coulthard corrected himself and acknowledged it should be "Vet-ul," but almost as soon as he did that, he called him "Vu-tell," again.
Of course, as Martin Brundle correctly pointed out, it really should be "Fet-ul," as "V" in German is pronounced "F."
– Speaking of TV, the GP was only interrupted twice in the first hour for commercials, so good for TSN. They packed a whole bunch into that long safety car period, which is the way to do it. Any time the safety car comes out, TV should try to clear the slate. Nothing’s going on anyway.
– All the great cities of the world – London, Chicago, Paris, Vienna, Osaka and so-on – have giant ferris wheels. Add Singapore to the list. The wheel, bathed in purple light, was a wonderful symbol of the city and the event during the televising of the Grand Prix.
Of course, a certain local politican suggested Toronto have one and was howled down. This can be taken one of two ways: Toronto is not a great city of the world or, more likely, the wrong person made the suggestion.
– If Hamilton had hit Massa in an IndyCar race, he would just have been sent to the back of the line.
(Speaking of IndyCar, somebody in the know told me at the weekend not to be surprised if nothing further is said about Helio Castroneves’s Twitter meltdown after the race in Japan, in which the Penske driver called Chief Stewart Brian Barnhart a "circus clown." IndyCar boss Randy Bernard "just wants it all to go away," he said.)
– I think one of the problems with everybody expecting Vettel to win the championship at Singapore and then finding out he ended up a point short is the nutsy scoring system. The absolute best was the (almost) ages-old awarding of points to the first six finishers on the basis of 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1. First, only a quarter of the field should get points and second, 9 times 19 (in case anybody should sweep the season) is still simple enough that people can do it in their head.
But then some genius decided almost half the field should be awarded points and that the winner would get 25. So now you need a calculator to do the math. That’s why everybody screwed up.
I mean, it’s crazy.
– On Lap 28, Vettel was 19 seconds ahead of Button. In a class (and a world) of his own. My wife said to me, "how old is Vettel?" I said 24. "And he's going to win his second world championship?" Yup. "What does he do next?"
Good question. Sure, he will want to win eight world championships, or more, to be the greatest of all time. But will he want to continue doing it at Red Bull? Where it really seems so easy?
Or will he do what I really think he wants to do: find a way to get to Ferrari.