While a lot of people will tell you that the Monaco Grand Prix is still the crown jewel of the Formula 1 season calendar, the Singapore Grand Prix has become the premier Asian destination for F1. So much so, in fact, that you could make a case in a few years that Singapore could potentially overcome Monaco as the most prestigious F1 race in the calendar.
But that discussion is for another time because the 2012 Singapore GP just concluded - and it was a complete doozy.
The records will show you that Sebastian Vettel emerged from the chaos with the win, his second in the five years the race has been run. But the story doesn’t end there because Vettel’s win was probably overshadowed by the mayhem during the race that actually caused it to be stopped two laps before the finish because of F1’s new two-hour race limit.
The first 22 laps of the race were uneventful with Lewis Hamilton emerging in front from pole position. Vettel and Button, starting on third and fourth, respectively, managed to overtake second place qualifier Pastor Maldonado in the start, effectively putting a McLaren-Red Bull-McLaren top-to-third order. Then, as if a sign of things to come, the two Caterham race cars collided with each other, thus putting an abrupt end to the team’s participation.
On the 23rd lap, the race turned upside its head when Lewis Hamilton, sitting pretty in first, unceremoniously retired after an electrical malfunction resulted in a blown gearbox. With his race done, Vettel emerged as the leader in what he thought would be a smooth sail to the finish line.
Little did Vettel, or anybody else know, that the chaos was just getting warmed up.
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On lap 33, Narain Karthikeyan inexplicably hit the barrier under the grandstand, effectively ending his race and causing the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT safety car to be deployed. Around the same time, Maldonado retired after posting his front row qualifying position due to technical problems on his Williams car.
When the hubris from Karthikeyan’s crash was finally cleaned up, the safety car was called back into the pits. But it didn’t stay long enough there for the driver to take a water break because as soon as the race resumed, Michael Schumacher slammed his Mercedes car into the back of Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso, creating another mess on the track that resulted in the safety car getting sent back out to the track.
After a flurry of pit stops and the resulting pit-lane poker that ensued, Vettel managed to keep his wits together to secure the race win, albeit one that ended two laps short of the 61st and final lap. With all the crashes having piled up, the race went past the two-hour time limit, causing the checkered flag to be waived in the 59th lap.
McLaren’s Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso scored second and third, respectively followed by Paul di Resta, Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo, and Mark Webber.
With the win, Vettel now sits in second place with 165 points, leaving him 29 points short of Fernando Alonso’s season-leading 194 points. Raikkonen is now at third with 149 with Hamilton moving down to fourth with 142 points. Meanwhile, Red Bull extended its lead in the Constructor’s Championship with 297 points, followed by McLaren with 261, Ferrari at 245, and Lotus at 231.