#800 2008 Singapore Grand Prix

2023-01-31 00:00

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#2008, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alice Simonin,

#800 2008 Singapore Grand Prix

On Tuesday, 23 September 2008, Lewis Hamilton believes in a reversal of what he called the injustice of Spa from the beginning, but the Court of Appea


On Tuesday, 23 September 2008, Lewis Hamilton believes in a reversal of what he called the injustice of Spa from the beginning, but the Court of Appeal will hardly give him back the victory he had clinched in the Belgian Grand Prix in its ruling. The British driver presents himself the day before, on Monday, 22 September 2008, in Paris, to plead his own cause, reaffirming his own innocence and claiming to have given back the lead to Kimi Räikkönen after the chicane's cut, before taking off for Singapore, where he will race on Sunday, 28 September 2008. Hamilton heatedly discusses with the Ferrari lawyers:


"I'm a driver, I have to think in a fraction of a second, if you don't understand it's because you have never driven in Formula 1".


But the feeling is that all his efforts risk being useless. McLaren, which comes before the Court of Appeal with its own lawyers and with CEO Martin Whitmarsh, tries to convince the judges bringing three elements in its favor: the speed on the finish line of its driver (6 km/h slower than Kimi Räikkönen), the proof that after the chicane's cut Lewis Hamilton has moved seven meters from the Ferrari driver (around a two-car gap) and a recording with the voice of Charlie Whiting, the race director, who had given his assent to the British driver's move twice. But except that Whiting says "I believe", it is not up to him to judge the drivers' behavior, but up to the commissioners (who, in Belgium, gave Hamilton a 25-second penalty, demoting him to the third place), so the chances of the Court of Appeal reversing the verdict remain little, which Ferrari is convinced of. The appeal could even be deemed inadmissible. Before analyzing the complaint, the Court of Appeal allowed the defendants to enter into a discussion, even hearing the arguments of the Ferrari lawyers Peter and Tozzi, but as already with the case of irregular fuels (McLaren aimed at the World Championship, taking it away from Kimi Raikkonen), it could decide that the debate could not even begin. As expected, in fact, on Tuesday, 23 September 2008, the complaint is defined inadmissible. The Court of Appeal of the FIA does not even take into consideration the appeal presented by McLaren against the penalty imposed on Lewis Hamilton in the Belgium Grand Prix on Sunday, 7 September 2008. The lengthy debate in Paris on Monday proves to be pointless: over the course of the afternoon, the five judges declare that, according to Article 152 of the International Sports Code, the decision of the race commissioners was not amenable to appeal, as it was a drive through, a penalty not served during the race and translated into 25 seconds of penalty on the final standings. McLaren knew about this rule, and immediately there was talk of not appealing, but they tried to reverse the verdict, bringing three elements in their favor: Hamilton's slower speed than Räikkönen on the finish line, the meters granted to the Finnish to retake the lead and the radio assent to Hamilton's move by Whiting, the race director. It could have been important evidence, but the five judges, the Monegasque President Narmino and the other four members, Spanish Conesa, Dutch Duijm, Swiss Julliard and Austrian Sedelmayer, do not compromise. You do not appeal on a drive through, the new finishing order does not change, the World Championship standings remains as given to the archives from the last Grand Prix, the one raced in Italia, with the leader Lewis Hamilton at 78 points and Felipe Massa at 77 points. The English driver, who was hoping for the restitution of his win, is disappointed. 


"I'm disappointed, but not depressed. On track, I had won with merit, I didn't commit any irregularity towards Räikkönen, I was convinced that the judges would have proved me right. Now, however, I want to put this affair behind me and only think of racing. We're drivers, we love to overtake. The overtakes are difficult and it's fantastic when you manage a great move. If it fascinates the public, it's even better. I like it, but I'll immediately restart fighting". 


The comment of Norbert Haug, the Mercedes manager, the company which provides Lewis Hamilton with engines, is also calm. 

"We'll make sure that the points lost in Belgium are not decisive for the Championship".


However, Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren's CEO, reacted angrily: 


"Nobody wants to win in the halls of a court, but we had triumphed on track at Spa". 


No escape for Lewis Hamilton (6 points were at stake, his 4 and the 2 of Felipe Massa) and now they go again, with the first night race of Formula 1 history in Singapore. Then three other rounds, Japan, China and Brazil, for a final sprint that promises spectacle. With McLaren's rage and Ferrari's confidence. No longer terrified, based on the last tests, of the malfunctioning of the tyres on the wet asphalt. Who will have the biorhythm pushed forward will win for the first Formula 1 night race in Singapore. 


"And let's make a great press conference in the club".


A very young driver says, kidding. Meanwhile, another taboo arises, and Bernie Ecclestone moves the borders of the paddock world even further. And by the way, it will have to change all its habits. 


"Upset them".


Says Mike Gascoyne, technical director of Force India.


"There won't be a lot of time to catch up". 


The engineers and the mechanics say in the pits, while the drivers, at a certain point, say goodbye and go to sleep. The rest of the team will adjust the set-up of the car and do the dirty work. But the drivers will still be at risk: will artificial light create problems? 


"The safety is total: we've done tests and simulations, no problems".


Moreover, the lighting will be made in Italy (Group of Maioli di Ravenna). Strange. That is the word used by a lot of people to describe the first Singapore Grand Prix, the first Grand Prix by night. 

"There is a lot of curiosity, it's undeniable".


Jarno Trulli admits. There are also those who are ready to adapt to the newness, like Lewis Hamilton: 


"This type of races will be the future". 


The most excited and delighted is Kimi Räikkönen: 


"I like to sleep until late each day so for me, here, it's all perfect. I'm more awake in the evening than in the morning".


The unknowns, however, could affect the race for the World Championship, with Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa very close (a point in favor of the Englishman), and the Ferrari sports director, Stefano Domenicali, does not fail to remind that in the evening, in Singapore, it usually rains. And by the way, it's damp, cooler than in the afternoon. Situations that Ferrari does not like, although the track of the circuit is however favorable to the Maranello team. And the bookmarkers actually give McLaren as the favorite. The truth is that the predictions are difficult as Singapore is absolutely new. Each driver puts in place his own approach, but nobody is certain that it will be the winning one. The craziest one, perhaps, is David Coulthard's one, the Red Bull driver: 


"I stay up late, I go to night clubs and I eat carrots because it seems that they help to see better in the dark". 


He will probably not win the Grand Prix but, at least, he has fun for business reasons. In Singapore, we cannot speak of a duel in the sun, despite the proximity to the Equator, but this probably makes the coming Grand Prix even more exciting. Felipe Massa against Lewis Hamilton, one only point of difference, one heated sprint, a battle of skills, nerves and words. They have the spotlight all for them, but there are especially lights on the track, since for the first time in the history of Formula 1 they race by night. Even if dark is a misplaced word, as the prologue shows how Singapore is able to illuminate its new street circuit as in daylight. 


"You can totally see, it will be a fun race, spectacular but not dangerous".


The drivers all repeat (Massa and Hamilton included) to those who insist on talking of risks and fear. But this is a first time (combined with the debut of the race on the calendar, with asphalt just laid out), the charm of the unknown remains in the air. If there is to talk about title chances, the words of the two contenders are simple and obvious. Felipe Massa says: 


"I've dreamt of climbing to the top of the world since I was a kid and racing in karts, I know I have a great opportunity and I intend to play it all the way". 


And Lewis Hamilton adds: 


"It will be a hard battle, but I'm sure of my means and I'm convinced of being able to win, in front of an aggressive rival, but a loyal one. Massa is strong, I'm stronger. And my McLaren has the right continuity to make me achieve the great undertaking. The ruling of Paris didn't knock me out, it's already forgotten. I'll keep fighting and overtaking, nothing will affect me". 


The question of how this historic first time is to be dealt with is different. If it does not change anything for Räikkönen (“It will be a race like another, the only difference is that in the morning I won't have to set an alarm”), Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton prepare a special something that could bring them to give their maximum on Sunday evening, when it will be fundamental to finish ahead in the showdown. The Brazilian decides to live the eve of the Grand Prix in a European way, ignoring the jet lag of six hours ahead. 


"On Wednesday night, I walked along the circuit until three in the morning, I went at the hotel at five, I fell asleep at dawn and I set the alarm for 1:00p.m. The times are different and I don't want to be caught unprepared". 


And with doubts about how this strategy might work, Lewis Hamilton is also behaving more or less the same way. 

"I spent the nights playing golf, I'm not already like my friend Tiger Woods, picture yourself by night, but at least I've accustomed the body to tension and concentration. At the hotel, in my room, I asked for blackout curtains, I have to sleep in the morning". 


Based on the premise that Ferrari is the favorite here, Felipe Massa will have to use the wild card, while Lewis Hamilton has to hope to take the pole position:


"Given that here, you can't overtake". 


Because, Massa claims, Singapore is halfway between Monte-Carlo and Valencia, with some points of the track very tight and a possible nightmare at turn 10: 


"There is turtle-shaped bump near the curb. If you go wrong there, you crash the car". 


The politically correct about the newness of the night Grand Prix ends with the words of Fernando Alonso, as always one of the few to say things with a certain personality, without being infected by the general guarantees and goodness. 


"Singapore is a pleasant newness, by all means. Everybody asks me about artificial lights, and I answer you right away. But the real point is something else: the circuit. It's a dangerous track".


The attack on the designers of the circuit, Hermann Tilke and KBR, the group of local engineers, comes after a day spent - that of Friday, 26 September 2008 - in the spirit of expectation, with the desire and curiosity to finally see the drivers driving in the evening (so much so that the teams ask and get to postpone the testing times just for a greater setting), here comes the talk about safety that becomes important.


"There are no escape roads, as it normally exists in the other circuits. If just in case one day, I hope as far as possible - even, in many years - it happens that a driver loses control for one reason or another, he ends up banging against a wall. Need I say more?"


All the drivers talk about that during their usual meeting on Friday. They also talk about smaller issues facing the risk of crashes. As it happened to Timo Glock, driver of the Toyota, who loses control of the car in the straight during the tests and, after the skid, bangs (and breaks) the nose, remaining also in the middle of the track for a long time: in a normal Grand Prix how many cars would have been able to dodge him? 


"That being said, we, the drivers, and I think I can speak for us all, don't have problems racing by night. I think that everyone is having a good time, so far".


Repeats Fernando Alonso. The first to have used words of praise had been Lewis Hamilton, followed by Norbert Haug: 


"It seems like a movie, there is great charm". 


However, among the drivers, the veteran Rubens Barrichello, driver for the Honda team, start to raise the first doubts: 


"The pit entry is risky".


His statement is however disputed by the youngest Williams driver, Nico Rosberg: 


"I disagree, just position yourself on the left side and give the reference to the others". 


However, Felipe Massa speaks of the exists from the pits of the drivers who rejoin the track: 


"They don't seem very intelligent to me". 


Thus, Rubens Barrichello comes back to it, saying: 


"Turn 5 is dark".


Fernando Alonso intervenes again on that, explaining: 


"It's not that we're in the dark, it's that the light has been placed further away and, indeed, the luminosity is reduced. Not only that: you come from a feeling of light and you suddenly find yourself with a worse vision. Moreover, it's also the very last corner of the track". 


The organizers listen and promise an intervention. What they will come up with will be seen on Saturday, 27 September 2008, during the qualifying session. In any case, Singapore opens a new frontier: 


"Of course, there will be other Grand Prix by night. But Malaysia remains sure, whether we race by night or by day".


On Saturday, 27 September 2008, the first pole position by night claimed by Felipe Massa with his Ferrari is historical. On a street track, a winning start in the World Championship, the time of the Brazilian driver is exceptional, almost 0.7 seconds faster than the time set by Lewis Hamilton. Felipe Massa's happiness is uncontrollable. Great achievement, resulting in a perfect lap, without the slightest mistake in the countless corners of the Singapore bay. 


"The pleasure is today, points are scored on Sunday, but I'm going to my hotel with a huge joy, because this is one of the most important poles of my career".


With that one, Felipe Massa has claimed 14 pole positions in his career.


"They're all great, rewarding, but this one is even better. Here you can't overtake, starting first is essential. And then the gap, huge gap, to the point that I wonder whether I have less fuel than Hamilton. However, I know my strategy and I know that for the race it's very good, thus I'm not afraid". 


The result, which mortifies Lewis Hamilton's ambitions, not surprisingly very disappointed, has great significance even at the psychological level. Until the very last lap, the most important one, the gap between the two title contenders was ultra-thin, even in favor of Lewis Hamilton. Then, suddenly, the turning point. On the instalment number two, the one which promotes the ten best drivers, while Felipe Massa sets the best time, Lewis Hamilton risks a lot. He messes up his braking at the first corner, goes off track and has to do another lap. When he rejoins the circuit, the traffic is massive and the McLaren driver claims the tenth position with difficulty, the last useful one, with just a 0.106-second gap over Jarno Trulli, the first to be eliminated. Felipe Massa will later say: 


"He was lucky, in these conditions the danger of an elimination is very high". 


Lewis Hamilton saves himself, but now he is not able to keep up with his rival's pace anymore. We go to the decisive challenge and the Englishman has to cash in on a remarkable disappointment, due to a higher time of 0.664 seconds. But the McLaren driver tries to do it without any drama: 


"I might have more fuel but anyway he's done a perfect lap, not me, the gap can also be explained like this, during the race it could be different". 


But then he admits: 


"A replay of Valencia? It's possible, the signals are all there". 


And in Spain, the script was rigidly marked with red, with Felipe Massa in pole, on the run from the first corner, in a festive mood at the finish line, and Lewis Hamilton in second. Ferrari hopes for an encore with Felipe Massa, who really seems to have a great feeling with the street circuits, given that, other than Valencia and Singapore, he has been really fast on the Saturday also at Monte-Carlo. 


"Except that here the race is even more difficult, the track is long, the corners are countless, with all those bumps at each meter that can be a threat, you need a concentration ten times higher than at Monte-Carlo, it only takes a moment and you ruin everything". 


It is that only moment that messes Fernando Alonso's Saturday up, betrayed by his Renault because of a failure of the fuel pump. In two free practices out of three, he had been the fastest, thus, his rage is justifiable. The Spanish driver will have to start from P15. Kimi Räikkönen, however, is calm: he would not start from the third place like at the British Grand Prix. The Finnish driver should help Felipe Massa and instead he is behind Lewis Hamilton:


"But given the last qualifying, the result satisfies me. In race, our pace is great". 


On Sunday, 28 September 2008, at the start of the Singapore Grand Prix, Felipe Massa pulls away brilliantly, followed by Lewis Hamilton, forced to look at an aggressive Kimi Räikkönen. In the first corners, a contact between Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen pushes the Finnish three places further back. In the back, being a very tight street circuit, there are few variations, but the overtakes are not lacking. The two Williams-Toyota drivers, Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima, try to overtake Jarno Trulli's Toyota, who starts with a high load of fuel, just like Fernando Alonso. At first, Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton manage to create an important gap over Kimi Räikkönen, but the Finnish, after some laps, starts to drive very fast, bringing himself close to the McLaren of the English driver again. On lap 15, the Renault of Nelson Piquet Jr., after having ricocheted into the wall of the Raffles Avenue, that evocatively passes under the same grandstands, ends up in a spin and violently bangs against the wall. 


"From the start of the race things were complicated and I had a lot of graining and the situation got worse and worse. The team asked me to push, which I tried to do and finally I lost the rear of my car. I hit the wall heavily but I'm OK. I am disappointed with my race but obviously very happy for the team this evening".


The Safety Car thus enters the track, as many people dreaded. Fernando Alonso, who started in P15, after having been the leader in the free practice and in the first qualifying sessions, had admitted that to be able to climb on the podium, it would at least take a Safety Car. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the Spanish driver is the first to do a pit stop even before the crash, followed by the two Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Mark Webber. With the pit lane still closed, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica, a lap later, also necessarily come in for a refueling and will then be penalized. When the pit lane opens, on lap 17, the work of the mechanics goes wild, busy with the pit stops which features Ferrari as the main character: Felipe Massa indeed, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen, leaving after his refueling, was given the go in advance because of a mistake made by a mechanic who holds the control of the signal between his hands, drags the hose of the fuel pump along with him, which was still attached to the car, spreading fuel in the pit lane. The risk for Adrian Sutil, who is just behind, is huge, witness to this incident like Kimi Räikkönen, queued in the pits. In this action, a Ferrari mechanic is injured. Felipe Massa is forced to stop at the end of the pit lane, chased by his mechanics who try to tear the filler off with the whole fuel hose. When the Brazilian leaves again, he is last while Kimi Räikkönen is third to last, slowed down by the operation done on the car of his teammate. The Brazilian will then be penalized with a drive through because of an unsafe release. Nico Rosberg benefits from this situation as he finds himself in first position, ahead of Jarno Trulli's Toyota and Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India-Ferrari, who still have to do their refueling, then Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, David Coulthard, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock. At the restart, the German Toyota driver takes advantage of a slight mistake made by Sebastian Vettel to overtake him. In the meantime, Nico Rosberg increases the pace, bringing to over 20 seconds his lead on the group that follows him, led by Giancarlo Fisichella; in this way, when the obvious penalty is given to him for an unjustified gap and served on lap 27, he rejoins the track ahead of David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton. It gets worse for Robert Kubica, who, blocked behind Giancarlo Fisichella, slips into last position. Over the course of lap 29, Mark Webber retires, because of a gearbox failure. In the meantime, over the course of lap 28, Giancarlo Fisichella goes back to the pits and Jarno Trulli takes the lead of the race, with an 11-second gap over Fernando Alonso. On lap 32, the pit stop done by the Toyota driver allows Fernando Alonso to take the lead. The Renault driver is followed by Nico Rosberg, David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton. Jarno Trulli, eighth, endures the overtakes of Kazuki Nakajima and of Kimi Räikkönen who is catching up. On lap 40, Nico Rosberg does his second stop, followed by Fernando Alonso one lap later, who rejoins the track just ahead of David Coulthard and Lewis Hamilton. The Englishman takes advantage of the situation to overtake the Scottish veteran with a big braking at turn 6 and be ahead of him when returning to the pits at the end of the lap. 


Red Bull loses time and David Coulthard slips into ninth position. Over the course of lap 50, Kimi Räikkönen is third, but he does his second stop, dropping to fifth position, behind the German Toyota driver, Timo Glock. In the meantime, Adrian Sutil commits a mistake and bangs against the grandstand of the football field, resulting in yet another call on track of the Safety Car. Few seconds before, Felipe Massa was the author of a spin at the same point. After two laps behind the Safety Car, at the restart, Lewis Hamilton, third, vainly tries to threaten the second position of his friend Nico Rosberg. Later, Fernando Alonso, with a couple of very fast laps, creates a 6-second margin compared to the German Williams driver. Over the course of lap 58, Kimi Räikkönen, who is close to Timo Glock's car, enters the very tight turn 10 too fast and bounces on the curbs of the chicane, and then bangs against the wall; it is another race not finished for him and zero points for the team. Fernando Alonso wins the Singapore Grand Prix and climbs on the top step of the podium again for the first time since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix, bringing the Renault to the triumph after having previously succeeded on the occasion of the 2006 Japan Grand Prix. Although he was favored by the circumstances, Alonso confirms the competitiveness of his car that was noticed during the practice, setting the second fastest lap of the race, legitimizing his victory. He is followed by the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg at the second place, the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, the Toyota of Timo Glock, the Toro Rodeo-Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, the BMW-Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, the Red Bull-Renault of David Coulthard and the Williams-Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima.


"From dream to nightmare". 


Felipe Massa, desperate, is the one to say everything. Because it is really about a nightmare, with a bad awakening attached to it. In the charming Singapore night, with artificial lights illuminating the track like daytime to deliver an historical first time to the Formula 1 world, what stands out is the darkness of the Ferrari team, a team that decides to throw everything away in an unfortunate moment, with a human mistake, of a mechanic who remains without a name, protected by the Ferrari secrecy, but who has committed a huge mistake pressing a button accidentally, turning the green light on, ordering Massa to leave when the fuel filler was still attached to his car. It is on lap 18, in Singapore it is 8:37 p.m., a time to remember as it could be the one at which the World Championship was decided. The Brazilian had dominated until that moment. Very fast in qualifying, he was doing the same during the race. His rival, Lewis Hamilton, was struggling to keep up with him and was even in danger of being overtaken by Kimi Räikkönen. Then came the crash of Nelson Piquet Jr. It neutralizes the race, the Safety Car goes on track, Fernando Alonso – the only driver to have already done his refueling – leaps ahead, while the other competitors go back to the pits. Ferrari has to call back both drivers and do a double refueling: it is a delicate moment, so it is decided to abandon the electronic procedure, which has replaced the old lollipop man still used by all the other teams. A choice will never turn out to be more wrong. Felipe Massa stops and his refueling is done. In Valencia, it was Kimi Räikkönen who made a mistake, leaving with the red light, while the Brazilian is flawless in Singapore: it is the mechanic who gives the green light too much in advance. The scene that follows is disarming: the driver runs over two refueling men, Claudio Bersini and Ignazio Sanzone (discharged without physical harm from the hospital, a few hours later), the Ferrari runs with the hose dangling. For this reason, Felipe Massa will also be penalized with a drive through, in addition to having to stop at the end of the pit lane followed by mechanics on foot. The disaster costs him 2 minutes and 3 seconds, in other words, the race. At the end of the race, Felipe Massa, heartbroken, explains:


"What happened is incredible. The human mistake is understandable, everyone can make mistakes, but it is cruel to lose a race like this, with two cars that were flying. All the conditions were there for a 1-2 finish, I could have put my hands on the world title and instead I find myself at 7 points from Hamilton. I've already hugged the mechanic who made a mistake, he was crying, I comforted him, we're all in the same boat. This mistake has to serve as a lesson for us, we have to go again right away. There are still three races, we need three 1-2 finishes". 


Put the Ferrari in front of the McLaren three times. It is also the motto for Stefano Domenicali, the GES manager of the Maranello team. 


"We have the motivations and means, we're not giving up". 


But the disappointment remains.


"It's a dark Sunday, we can't hide it. We've been through a lot and it's our fault". 


The fault of the mechanic and of the bad luck because the continuation of Felipe Massa's race became an ordeal (we must also take into consideration a flat tyre and a scrape against the barriers). It is also Kimi Räikkönen's fault, who could have at least kept the team at the top of the Constructors' World Championship with a fifth place (4 points). Instead, the Finnish crashed. 


"I was pushing to the maximum to reach the Toyota of Glock". 


Instead, he bounced on a curb, lost the control and finished against the wall. 

"I'm sorry".


Yet another chapter of a season to forget. At Ferrari, however, they do not regret extending his contract. Or at least, they hide it. Stefano Domenicali also says: 


"Better to take Alonso? Other question, please". 


Meanwhile, the Spanish driver won with Renault, bringing on the podium with him Nico Rosberg, second with Williams-Toyota, and Lewis Hamilton, with McLaren-Mercedes, while Felipe Massa swears. It is dawn in Singapore, the moment during which the dreams die. Perhaps here his dreams of title have faded forever. We are back, however, one year later, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton side-by-side on the podium. But without clashes, because the bad things are part of their past. Instead, this is a joyful day for both of them: for Alonso, who returns to winning ways after Monza 2007. For Hamilton, who reverses the negative trend on Felipe Massa after three Grand Prix and takes 6 valuable points in view of the end of the season. Everyone enjoys his happiness and does not bother to hide it. Fernando Alonso, delighted with his win, says: 


"I still can't believe it. I'll need a couple of days to realize it". 


While Lewis Hamilton merely says: 


"I'm very, very happy". 


The coldly formal greetings follow, and the return to their own world. But both are winners, for a day. The Spanish driver won with a car, the Renault, which has made him struggle all year long. And his expression reveals his thought. The other, the Englishman, gave some news to everyone, in this Singapore Grand Prix, and it is not good news for Ferrari: 


"I understood that I shouldn't have to push. It's useless to take risks, given that Ferrari were behind". 


There is more general meaning, there is a message. It means that Lewis learned last year's lesson when in Brazil, during an outburst of young enthusiasm, he was the author of a race behavior (and of the mistakes to chase Alonso) which costed him a World Championship practically already won. He has understood that it is useless to play the big man. Not only. This time, both (former) rivals are also united in luck which, in this case, is called Safety Car. Lewis Hamilton admits:


"I was in traffic, Ferrari was going very fast. I knew they were competitive, and the start confirmed it. I had told you that this Grand Prix would be a very hard one. And overtaking was really complicated". 


The crash of Nelson Piquet Jr. also helped his teammate, Fernando Alonso, who had done his pit stop right on the previous lap: 


"This time, I was helped by the right star. But I think I've deserved it, I think it's a compensation for what happened to me on Saturday in qualifying with the hydraulic problem while the car was going great. Remember that I started P15". 


They also have high morale in common now, but nothing is taken for granted. Everyone has his thoughts: Alonso has to counter the progress of Toyota, Lewis the one of Ferrari. The only thing they do not share on this day are the certainties for the future, however 2008 ends: Hamilton will always be the number one driver of McLaren, Alonso does not know yet the color of the racing suit he will be wearing: 

"This triumph doesn't change my decisions, that I still haven't taken. But, as I always say, I feel at home with Renault. This, Briatore knows it".


And in this respect, a shout rises from the Ferrari people: enough is enough, give us Alonso. They have had enough of Kimi Räikkönen. Given that, as if all the inconclusive exploits of the recent months had not been enough, in the illuminated night of Singapore, the Finnish driver performed at his best, losing the opportunity to score valuable points. As he had long been ranked in the standings of the World Championship, one thing was expected from the Finnish, and that is to say, after renewing his rich contract with Ferrari, to devote himself at least to scoring points for the standings of the Constructors' World Championship and to helping Felipe Massa in his race to the drivers' title. Instead, nothing. He did not manage to overtake Lewis Hamilton at the start to, like this, defend the leadership of the Brazilian driver, he was not the author of an attacking race and, in the end, he did not prefer to choose to finish the race in defense mode, to score those points, even a few, necessary so that Ferrari would achieve something. Perhaps Fernando Alonso can pay for it? Nobody knows, but what is clear is that on the outside, there is a tenacious stubbornness in ensuring that the Spanish driver cannot or should not get to Maranello. As well as feverishly tenacious seems the activity of Ferrari aimed at losing both titles at stake, because now they are going to also lose the Constructors' one. No, the people are right: enough with the chitchat and the mistakes on track and in the pits; perhaps Fernando Alonso is needed to restart another era similar to the one experienced with Michael Schumacher.




It is the word used by Stefano Domenicali, the GES manager of Ferrari, to justify the huge mistake of the mechanic who has ruined the race of Felipe Massa in Singapore. 


"Our team is made of excellent professionals, experienced people. But a moment of low lucidity can occur, perhaps due to our temperament as Latino men, and here the disaster unfolds. We keep in mind that, in a pit stop, you reason in fractions of a second, the least uncertainty can be fatal". 


However, Luca Montezemolo explains:


"But our car was also the best on a circus track. We've gone through worst moments; now I expect that Massa and Räikkönen always end at the first and the second places".


The problem is that the mistake committed in Singapore is not the first one of this troubled 2008. The men who had accustomed their Tifosi to the winning moves for some time now are becoming accustomed to the uncertainties, with the result that they often compromise their own drivers' Grand Prix. It is not just about refueling; it is also about the wrong tyre choice, the wrong engine mapping, unplanned (or vainly planned) rain, a not always perfect race strategy. There are at least five (out of fifteen) races where something did not work off the track, excluding from the count the first Grand Prix, in Australia, where there was talk about a wrong engine mapping, due to the unexpected great heat, resulting in Kimi Räikkönen's eighth place and Felipe Massa's retirement. If we add to this the broken engines, spectacular the one of Budapest three laps from the end with Felipe Massa committed to the win, you understand how much Ferrari has lost with their own hands during this season. Men out of shape, satisfied? Domenicali rejects any accusation: 


"Our team remains strong and motivated, they want to win both world titles, drivers' and constructors', they'll fight until the end, they'll never give up. The aim is clear, now we need three 1-2 finishes in the last three races. We have the means to achieve them, technical and human resources". 


As long as you get back to the perfect times not only on track, where Räikkönen has to give much more. But also, in the pits.


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