The drivers lined up earlier for the parade, lots of chattering between teams, via @Lotus_F1Team.
Kimi Räikkönen is taking centre stage again, this weekend it's because he has a bad back which is particularly painful over the bumpy street track. He managed to take part in qualifying but only secured 13th on the grid.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean put in a star turn to scoop third place - best of the rest behind the close battle of Vettel and Rosberg.
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|4||M Webber||Red Bull|
|9||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
A really good qualifying performance from Esteban Gutiérrez as well, who starts in the top ten for the first time. Teammate Nico Hülkenberg just missed out on getting to Q3, and starts 11th.
The tyres on offer today are the medium (white) and supersoft (red) compounds. The supersoft was the tyre of choice for qualifying, but both Red Bull drivers and Romain Grosjean managed to save a set by sticking to mediums during the first session. That could come in very handy as the race unfolds.
|(data from Williams F1)|
|Fuel lap time penalty||0.4s/10kg|
|Pit lane loss||29.6s|
|Pit lane length||404m|
Notable things about this track - it's slow, there's a strong chance of a safety car, and the pit lane takes a considerable amount of time to get through.
Sebastian Vettel took another pole position, he's one of only three drivers to start from the first grid slot this season. Thankfully, the race winners are slightly more diverse. Only slightly.
Interview with David Beckham, hanging out in the Mercedes garage: "I love cars, I love great athletes and obviously these are all great athletes. This is the second one I've been to, went to Silverstone and now here. Here to support Lewis, British driver, someone with so much talent. it's going to be a great spectacle. The reason I've not been able to come to the Grand Prix as often as I'd like is I've been playing, but now I've finished I've got more time to come to things like this."
Mr Beckham, via @MercedesAMGF1.
Vettel has a practically unassailable lead on the championship, but the battle for second is gloriously close.
The pit lane is about to open, expect to hear the engines roaring any second now.
We've got two DRS zones this year, one coming down the home straight , and one just after the first corner complex. That puts them pretty close together, but DRS has not been too brilliant around street circuits. Of course, the Singapore track is wider than your traditional street course, but the barriers are still right there and very unforgiving.
Practice starts from the end of the pit lane, as a Williams roars away, followed by a Mercedes, and two Red Bulls.
Tweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Radio checks all round as the guys complete their laps before going to the grid...
Turn seven is the important left hander, Memorial Corner.
|(forecast data from Brembo)|
|Maximum pedal load||139kg|
Paul di Resta had yet another qualifying disappointment, dropping out in the first session, and scoring a lowly 17th on the grid. He's sandwiched by the two Williams cars, who continue to struggle for pace.
@grid1tv: "Here's McLaren's Sergio Perez in the Singapore pits before heading out on to the track."
Interview with Mark Webber: "Looking good, plenty of strategy, we've got to try and clear Nico and Romain, and we'll see how it goes after that. Nice to get the steps here, it makes a challenging race, really enjoy it. Loads of Aussies here too, it's a good Grand Prix, good atmosphere, looking forward to it."
Felipe Massa follows heaps of drivers as they rush off the grid for last minute preparations. He takes the slightly unusual and more athletic route of jumping up and over the wall.
Interview with Stefano Domenicali: "Up to now we have seen that our rear end was totally unstable. We are suffering with a problem with overheating, even on the supersofts. It will be a difficult race for us, no doubt."
Button suggests there's a lot of confusion over the ideal strategy, which could mix things up a little bit.
Felipe Massa qualified ahead of Fernando Alonso yet again, 6th and 7th for the Ferrari boys. That may not last too long as the race begins though.
Interview with Valtteri Bottas: "It's a long race, the main thing is to be consistent, stay out of trouble. If there's things happening, try not to get involved in those in a bad way."
Just a minute or two left to go, make your final predictions before the race gets underway.
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: race strategy: both drivers start on used supersofts. the gap between ss and medium is big, so ss seems to be the preferred tyre.
Every single driver is starting on supersofts except for Adrian Sutil, who has the medium tyres on and starts from 15th.
Vettel leads the pack away for their formation lap, weaving his way round the early part of the track.
Tweet from @MercedesAMGF1: As always, focus is on tyre and brake warming on this lap, plus keeping engine temps in limits. Always a tricky balancing act
Team principals watch on nervously in the garage, serious looks on both Domenicali and Boullier's faces.
The pack forms up on the grid, with the Caterhams and Marussia pulling in to position.
Rosberg moves across towards Vettel and pulls ahead of him into the first corner before running wide and giving the lead back to Sebastian.
It's a clean start behind, as Webber makes a move on Grosjean but doesn't get it yet. Hamilton and Massa are going at it now, they're all over the track.
Both Alonso and Webber have got past Grosjean already, the Lotus dropped back to 5th.
Vettel has pulled out a 1.9 second lead as he crosses the line to start the second lap.
Lewis' radio informs him to give the place back to Massa, he went off the track to take that place. Hamilton does so but immediately tries another move.
Hülkenberg has moved ahead of his teammate, who has also lost a place to Pérez. Gutiérrez now down in 11th, being chased by Paul di Resta - who must have made a storming start!
Tweet from @PirelliSport: With regards to pit stops, three are faster but as it's hard to overtake two seems the better choice...
Team radio to Webber: "Look after the tyres, monitor the gap to Alonso."
Vettel has a five second lead already, and we're only four laps in. Incredible pace in that car!
Replays of the start show Fernando Alonso's start was just a straight line forward, no blinking, and that moves him up into contention for the top three.
Kimi Räikkönen has moved ahead of Gutiérrez, eleventh place for the Lotus driver at the moment.
Kimi is closing up on Sergio Pérez now.
Shots of race leader Vettel show him steaming ahead with the race track all to himself. Lonely race ahead!
|S Pérez||vs.||K Räikkönen|
Vergne's radio tells him he's doing a great job looking after the tyres and to keep on keeping on. That must be a nice message to get.
Team radio to Hamilton: "Alonso, P3, is holding the pack up."
Both Red Bull drivers had to pull back towards the end of the last race at Monza due to gearbox issues. They have the same boxes in this weekend, and it is the last race of their lifespan.
Tweet from @Marussia_F1Team: The field is quite bunched up still so when they've passed the pits there's a long silence as they disappear uptown for a bit. V strange
Kimi doesn't seem to be making much progress on Pérez, whilst his teammate Grosjean has his eye on Mark Webber.
Towards the back, Valtteri Bottas hasn't had a great start to the race. He's been passed by Giedo van der Garde, and is mixing it with the Caterhams and Marussias.
Kimi Räikkönen dives into the pitlane, the first stop of the day. His rear tyres were shot, which explains his non-moves on Pérez.
Jules Bianchi also comes in for a stop. It's a lengthy pitlane, and speeds are slower here, so it takes a long while to get in and/or out.
Gutiérrez comes in for his first stop, and Vergne also pops in to the Toro Rosso box.
Tweet from @MercedesAMGF1: Tyre deg starting to come into play now after a dozen laps on the super softs
Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil both come in for their first stops. Jules Bianchi has actually been into the pits twice, he's firmly in last place now.
Sutil has stopped at the same time as everyone else, which means the difference between mediums and supersofts in the first stint was negligible.
Lots more stops now, with Bottas and Webber and more all coming in.
Tweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Jules had to pit again for a new steering wheel due to a gear selection problem
Esteban Gutiérrez had the fastest lap of the race so far, but only momentarily as he was beaten by Räikkönen. The fresh tyres are doing the business, and 1:51.768 is the time to beat.
Rosberg gets a hasty message to box, box, box. Fernando Alonso has come in for his first stop of the day already, and Rosberg dives in soon afterwards. Grosjean also comes in.
Alonso is chasing Paul di Resta ahead, the Force India hasn't stopped yet, whilst Alonso has but doesn't want to get held up behind the slower car.
Sebastian Vettel still leads, no stop from him yet.
Grosjean appears to be the only man so far to go for supersofts on his second stint.
A train of Maldonado (11th), Hülkenberg and Pérez are squabbling for position. Pérez pushes Hulk off track, the Sauber just about keeping the McLaren at bay.
Gutiérrez closes up to join the fight, a train of four cars now, with some great racing action.
Maldonado ruins the battle by coming in for a stop. Vettel pits from the lead of the race.
Very clean stop for Vettel, medium tyres going on that car, and he returns to the track still in the lead.
All drivers have stopped at least once, except for Paul di Resta who is up to third as a result.
Alonso was fighting to get past Di Resta earlier but seems to have settled behind the Force India for now.
Nico Hülkenberg was instructed to give the place back to Pérez from that earlier battle. "WHAT?" the German shouts back. But he obeys.
Team radio from Hamilton: "These tyres are terrible."
The pit wall responds that at least the pace looks good.
Paul di Resta finally comes in to the pit lane, he rapidly drops down the order but returns to the track in 13th place, which is still four places up on where he started.
Meanwhile, Grosjean is chasing down Webber for fifth place, the Lotus has the supersoft tyres on to the Red Bull's mediums.
Blue flags are starting to be waved, with Jules Bianchi the recipient of a heap of blue flags. He slows right down to let the leaders past before carrying on with his race.
Team radio to Kimi Räikkönen: "Kimi, we understand you are feeling a problem but we can't see anything in the data. So we can't give you any information at the moment."
Rosberg gets a message to "just remember to drink." So much else to concentrate on, I suppose.
The Lotus mechanics find themselves with a situation that IS unusual, as Tom Jones comes in and sits amongst the pit crew.
Daniel Ricciardo is into the wall! The Safety Car is deployed.
He's into the wall at the corner where the track goes under the grandstands.
Lots of drivers will make the most of the safety car to get a pit stop in. We've seen Chilton and Bottas, plus Vergne in.
At the front, Alonso, Grosjean, Massa, Button, Räikkönen, Pérez, Hülkenberg and Gutiérrez come in.
Erm, it would be easier to list those that don't stop, I suppose.
It's just a train of cars in and out of the pits, the crews are busy as teams double stop.
Crucially, the top four haven't stopped yet, Vettel, Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton.
Vettel's lead will be shortened at last. He's getting plenty of instruction from Rocky over the radio, particularly to stay online, as the dirty parts of the track are a significant problem.
Kimi Räikkönen lost out a little in those stops, they had to hold him because of an incoming Hülkenberg.
Lapped cars may now overtake - Bianchi and Chilton.
At this moment, then, the top four and Paul di Resta have only stopped once, with the rest all stopped twice (Bianchi thrice).
Comment from Chain Bear: Half way, time wise, but not halfway lap-wise
The Safety Car is still circling as the Marussia pair hustle around the track to try and catch up. It's taking them a long while!
At the moment, then, Di Resta, Massa and Sutil are on the supersoft compounds, with all the rest on the mediums.
Safety Car in this lap.
Whatever this safety car regulation is, it needs to change. In no race should we be waiting for the slowest cars on the track to catch up. They are the slowest for a reason.
Team radio from Rosberg: "I'm not going to talk anymore because the radio fails when I talk. You go ahead."
Vettel is backing the pack up considerably as he prepares for the restart. Rosberg narrowly avoids the back of him as he weaves round the last few corners.
Track is clear. Vettel gets a fabulous restart as Rosberg fails to capitalise on the opportunity.
Felipe Massa is pulling alongside Paul di Resta, pushing the Force India to hurry it up. Di Resta is on the different tyres, and currently sitting 7th.
Rosberg is told he's in the safety car window, which is slightly unfortunate timing, given the safety car has just gone in.
|7||10||P di Resta||1|
Hamilton calls over the radio for some attention to his front right tyre, worrying he's run over debris. The team inform him it "looks good."
Grosjean gets a radio about a problem with air consumption, and he responds with a Buemi-esque: "Noo!" But he does, he's in.
Team radio from Grosjean: "What is wrong with this car?"
It's a massively long stop, a guy is looking for something somewhere, while everyone else is holding cooling devices to keep the car stable. He's off again, but that's ruined.
That's last place for Grosjean, then.
Tweet from @MyCaterhamF1: Great battle tonight with @WilliamsF1Team with @GvanderGarde passing Bottas again for 17th, sorry 16th after GRO's extended stop
Italian radio message for Alonso, can't understand much of it except "super-soft" for which there must be no Italian word.
Interview with Daniel Ricciardo: "Not the way we wanted to finish. Not the way we wanted to start, I was really poor off the line... just tried to regain a rhythm, apparently on the radio the times weren't too bad. I was pushing and pushing... it was my fault, just went into the barrier."
New fastest lap for Sebastian Vettel, as he crosses the line for a 1:50.182. He zips off into the distance, and has the length of the main straight and then some before Rosberg appears in second.
Esteban Gutiérrez, currently in 14th, runs wide and picks up a heap of marbles on his tyres that won't help him at all.
Tweet from @clubforce: Adrian is past GUT and now close to VER. Much faster than the cars ahead, attack mode #ON!
Grosjean comes in to retire, and team boss Eric Boullier explains: "We had to stop him or the engine would have blown up."
Hamilton is told he has another seven laps on these tyres, but he's not so sure it's possible.
Grosjean stands, hands on hips, in the garage, staring morosely at the rear of the car. He's either hoping it will burst into flames from his stare, or perhaps suddenly leap into life again.
|Sector 3||Di Resta||240kph|
Top speeds there from Sutil, and the Force India driver comes into the pit lane, following Mark Webber who heads out with the medium compounds on.
Rob Smedley lets Massa know they are trying to work out what to do, because they're not sure he can get to the end of the race on the current tyres.
Rosberg and Maldonado both come in to the pitlane, Nico for his second stop, Pastor for his third.
It's Rosberg and Webber side by side as the Mercedes exits the pitlane, and then the Red Bull streaks ahead for 11th to Rosberg's 12th.
Di Resta and Massa take their turn in the pitlane.
Quick stop for Williams, turning Maldonado out and preparing for Bottas, via @WilliamsF1Team.
Team radio from Rosberg: "Why do I have to push? I don't want to push more than I have to."
Ah, silly us. We thought he was a racing driver.
Hamilton comes in for his second stop of the day, and he returns to the track ahead of Di Resta, but behind Webber and his teammate.
Sebastian Vettel pits from the lead, with a thirty second gap to second place Alonso.
Supersoft tyres go on the Red Bull, and he returns to the track ahead of Alonso with plenty of gap to the Ferrari.
Tweet from @WilliamsF1Team: our bodywork boys Chris &Tom also jumped in to clear debris from Valtteri's front wing which was compromising his pace last stint #Singapore
Team radio to Vettel: "Sebastian, it's all about looking after the car, the tyres, and being ready for a safety car."
Rosberg is having a proper argument with his engineer, to push or not to push, that is the question.
Pérez's radio tells him he's doing a great job and can get to the end of the race. So the question for Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton is how many of those in front are going to come in, and how many are they going to have to pass on track.
Webber is currently 8th, with the other two behind. Ahead of them, Button, Räikkönen, Pérez, and two Saubers.
More warnings for Vettel, to look after his brakes as they are seeing vibrations. I think they may just be trying to keep things interesting. Either that, or this is another of Newey's most worrying races ever.
Tweet from @F1onNBCSports: Gutierrez is looking to go to the end, but he has Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton on his tail. Can the rookie score his first F1 points?
Webber passes Gutiérrez easily, and there are two Mercedes cars hoping to follow suit quickly.
Rosberg gets past, and now it's Hamilton in the Sauber's rear view mirrors. Gutiérrez is slow down the straights and it's easy for Lewis to get through.
Paul di Resta is next to chase down Esteban. He's dropping rapidly out of the points here.
11 laps to go, and 17 minutes to go. It's cutting it close!
Paul di Resta sweeps past the Sauber, Felipe Massa moves on through as well. Gutiérrez now down to 12th.
The Sauber mechanics are loitering in the pit lane, but neither driver has come in yet.
Kimi Räikkönen has his eyes on a podium place, chasing Button for third. There's about half a second between them.
|J Button||vs.||K Räikkönen|
You sort of get a feel of what this race is like when a super-exciting replay is of Hamilton locking up into a corner.
Webber is now chasing down another Sauber, this time Nico Hülkenberg is on the defensive.
Webber makes the move down the inside, up to 6th place now. The following Mercedes pair will attempt the same.
Kimi Räikkönen goes round the outside into turn 14, keeps his foot in for a great move and makes it stick. A podium for the Lotus driver is looking likely!
There are two McLarens ahead of Webber now.
Paul di Resta ran wide off track and the Force India is off into the barriers.
He's way off track in the run-off area, so no fear of a safety car.
Webber has dispatched both Pérez and Button, and now it is two Mercedes versus two McLarens.
Track is clear. Five laps to go.
Hamilton noses towards Rosberg, inter-team fighting has the pit wall on edge, no doubt!
Rosberg passes Pérez, Hamilton moves alongside the McLaren but settles behind for now.
Felipe Massa appears behind Hamilton, the Ferrari hauling himself into the fight!
You wouldn't want to be Hamilton, in a Pérez/Massa sandwich.
Meanwhile, Rosberg storms ahead, passing Button for fifth place.
Hamilton gets the place from Pérez, so the Mercedes pair are back together again.
Webber's getting the short-shifting message that he had in Monza. Just a couple of laps/minutes left for the gearbox to survive though.
Massa moves ahead of the McLaren of Pérez as well. Button is next in line.
And Massa makes the pass on Button, so it's Webber, Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa and then the two McLarens - who have lost heaps of places in just a few laps.
Two laps left to go.
Sutil has closed up behind Nico Hülkenberg, hoping for the final points place.
Rosberg has Webber in his sights, they are super close, and it's an easy move for both Mercedes actually, as the Red Bull is in full conservation mode.
Webber reports no power over the radio, he's trying to get back to the finish, we're on the final lap at least.
Sebastian Vettel wins the Singapore Grand Prix!
Webber has pulled off track with the car in flames! He didn't make the chequered flag!
Fireworks light up the sky as the race winner celebrates another victory.
Vettel had such a lead that a minute passes before the rest of the top ten crosses the line, the battle going right to the line.
Fernando Alonso has picked up Mark Webber to give him a lift home. Lovely sight.
|D Ricciardo||Pesky barriers||25|
|P di Resta||Pesky barriers||55|
Fernando Alonso makes it back to the pit lane and drops off his passenger (I wonder if he gets a tip?) He climbs out the car to make his way to the podium.
Tweet from @InsideFerrari: #SINGP Domenicali: we couldn't do more! We don't give up: what happened to WEB can happen again, we have to be there to take an opportunity.
Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner make their way to the podium green room, where Kimi is already waiting. They all look a bit hot and sweaty.
Vettel asks how Kimi's back is, the Finn replays: "Not too bad."
Alonso arrives, shakes hands with all - he looks very happy, second considering Ferrari weren't expecting a good result here.
The drivers head out on to the podium, waves and smiles under the floodlights. Mostly cheers for Vettel this time.
The national anthems play out, as the drivers stand respectfully, if a little sweaty, on the podium.
Trophies handed out, and Kimi gingerly bends down to pick up the champagne. More fireworks as the bubbles are sprayed.
Podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "The start was quite hairy, quite difficult when Nico had a good start, better than me... but fortunately, he went in too deep and I could get him back. It was crucial as then we had good pace, controlled the first stint. The safety car was difficult, as soon as the safety car came in we had some great pace in the car. I said to the team, it hasn't happened by luck, it's a lot of hard work, and it was a pleasure to drive... It was a long race, it seemed to go on forever, a lot of things can go wrong, the walls sometimes get very, very close... towards the end I was controlling the gap. It helped I was on fresh options, so we could control the gap to take the chequered flag."
Podium quotes - Fernando Alonso: "It was a fantastic start, we knew we didn't have the pace today so we'd have to invent something. The first possibility was the start, and we had a different strategy to others. It's a fantastic podium, second place is like a victory for us.
"It was a risky move, we are in the position in the championship we have nothing to lose. We push, we take care of the tyres, the car was performing well in the race, and the fans push us a bit to gain some extra tenths today. The Red Bull's were too fast all weekend, we have to congratulate them, next time we will try to do better."
Podium quotes - Kimi Räikkönen: "Luckily, [my back] didn't affect me too much. Afterwards it's not 100% but we have two weeks to rest and get better. We did the best we could, I don't think we could achieve much more today. I think I had okay speed, I could overtake people. At the end I was following Jenson and I could see his tyres were going off... I managed to pass him and pull away, luckily no one managed to catch me then."
Podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "To be honest, I'm not looking at the championship too much. We're in a strong position but I'm enjoying the moment. Days like today, yesterday, you can feel the tension. The car's fantastic. It doesn't happen by accident. Very early on Fridays we are still working hard and pushing hard. Days like this, it's a pleasure to be in the car."
Martin Brundle, asking the questions, tells the fans off for booing. I agree, but if you don't want the crowd reaction, you probably shouldn't ask the questions in front of the crowd. It's a case of bringing it on yourself, really.
A question from the comments: Who's the last person mathematically still able to take the title. FBFB?
Six races left, 25 points available for the winner, that's 150 points. Vettel has 247, so it's still open down to Nico Rosberg in sixth place.
In the constructor's only Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus can take the fight to Red Bull. But I think we could have guessed that!
Final gap analysis.
A long old race, then. Vettel won what was an uneventful two hours, although the safety car allowed for greater strategy choices, and the final few laps were better than the rest.
The championships, as discussed just now, are still open, but it's getting ever more difficult for anyone to touch the supreme pace shown by Red Bull.
It was a great recovery for Räikkönen, hampered by the bad back (although he said it wasn't too bad in the car). From 13th to third, he scooped a great haul of points. On the flip side, Webber dropped 11 places after retiring on the final lap.
The Mercedes pair fought their way back through the field to essentially end up where they started, whilst the McLarens gained places and picked up points - but will likely be disappointed after losing so much in the final stint.
We've got six races left on the calendar, next stop Korea in two weeks time. Please do stay tuned to https://sidepodcast.com and http://f1minute.com for all the news and views between now and then. And join me back here for more FBFB fun in a fortnight!
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