By Alan Davies, Sports reporter
Sunday, September 25, 2011
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was hit with a drive-through penalty after colliding with the Ferrari of Felipe Massa as Sebastian Vettel won the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix.
2008: Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2009: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
The 26-year-old Herts-born racer and Brazilian Massa both entered the pits together at the end of lap 11.
They exited at the same time, with Massa still ahead of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ace in the sport’s spectacular night race.
Hamilton, on option tyres, tried to pass the Ferrari driver out on the Marina Bay street circuit, but lost part of his front wing in doing so.
Massa suffered a rear right puncture in the lap 12 collision and both men were forced to return to the pits for repairs, with Hamilton also opting for a set of prime tyres.
The FIA race stewards subsequently investigated the incident and penalised Hamilton with a drive-through for his part in the crash.
The McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “We have been given a drive-through for the collision. We need to take it now, so box.”
After serving his penalty – his third trip through the pits in the opening 16 laps – Hamilton found himself back down in 16th place.
He asked the team over the radio: “Please keep me informed with info. Who am I racing, how fast am I going?”
The encouraging McLaren reply was: “We are definitely racing for points. The best way to get a good result is to make these tyres last.”
Hamilton had climbed his way back up into the points in 10th place when the safety car was deployed on lap 30 after Michael Schumacher crashed his Mercedes GP into the wall.
That lifted Hamilton into ninth place and during the safety car period he switched to the supersoft tyres again.
Once the safety car had come in, Hamilton took the Sauber of Sergio Perez, then Adrian Sutil’s Force India, Rosberg again and Paul di Resta for fifth place.
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2 Jenson Button (McLaren)
3 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
4 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
5 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
6 Paul Di Resta (Force India)
7 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
8 Adrian Sutil (Force India)
9 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
10 Sergio Perez (Sauber)
The pitwall told Hamilton: “Great job again, Lewis. You’re now P5. Alonso is the next car, 14s ahead.”
Hamilton was forced into the pits again on lap 49 for another set of primes, the stop relegating him down to ninth – behind Perez, Sutil, Rosberg and Di Resta again.
Hamilton was told over the radio: “We are currently in ninth place. There are four cars ahead, all on very old tyres.”
He soon picked off Perez, Sutil and Rosberg in succession and then closed in on Di Resta, who is managed by Lewis’ father Anthony Hamilton.
The McLaren pitwall told Lewis over the radio: “Great job again, DIR is next. There are nine more laps at the end of this one.”
Having reclaimed fifth place from the Scot, Hamilton found himself 13 seconds behind Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton was told by the pitwall: “You were 3s faster than Alonso on that last lap. Gap down to 9.7s.”
However, Hamilton was unable to catch the Ferrari in the closing laps and eventully crossed the finish line fifth, as world champion Sebastian Vettel took the chequered flag.
Red Bull driver Vettel won the race from Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button, with Mark Webber taking the third step on the podium. Then came Alonso and Hamilton.
Having earlier lined up fourth on the start grid, Hamilton tried to overtake the Red Bull of Webber on the outside on the run to the first corner of the grand prix.
The gap quickly closed and Hamilton dropped down to eighth, behind both Ferrari drivers and the two Mercedes GPs of Nico Rosberg and Schumacher.
Hamilton didn’t waste too much time overtaking Schumacher, scything past the German in the DRS zone on lap four.
The 2008 F1 world champion from Hertfordshire repeated the trick a lap later to take Rosberg for sixth place, with pole-sitter Vettel unchallenged out in front.
He then closed in on Massa’s Ferrari for fifth place, but was unable to pass the Brazilian on the track before the pair both pitted for new tyres.
Then came the collision between the pair and Hamilton’s drive-through penalty that ultimately cost him any chance of a podium result.