By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix last Sunday, September 27. The McLaren driver started the race in pole position, keeping the lead until the checkered flag, 61 laps later.
Hamilton was followed by Toyota driver Timo Glock, from Germany, who finished 9.8 seconds after him. The third place was claimed by Fernando Alonso, the Spanish racer who drives for the Renault team.
The biggest surprise of the race, however, was the performance of the Brawn GP team. Singapore was a critical race for both Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, current season leaders who are disputing the championship title.
With only four races until the end of the season, every single point can make the difference in the title race, and the Brawn GP drivers were expected to drive a great race in Singapore. In spite of that, their performance was weak. Button finished fifth, with Barrichello right behind him in sixth position.
The result meant Button increased his lead over the Brazilian driver by one more point. Jenson Button now leads his teammate and championship rival Rubens Barrichello by fifteen points, with three more races to go.
Barrichello had won the previous race in Monza, Italy, and had great expectations about diminishing the gap between him and Button in Singapore. Despite the frustrating result, he said he will not give up. ”I’m not going to throw in the towel,” he said. ”I will fight to the end.”
The third-place podium spot claimed by Fernando Alonso helped to calm nerves at the Renault team. The Renault team was recently hit by a scandal involving Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr. and Renault principal Flavio Briatore. Piquet was fired last month because his recent results had not been satisfactory, but before leaving, he accused the Renault team of having staged a crash last year to favor his teammate Fernando Alonso. Piquet said Briatore ordered him to deliberately crash on the 2008 Singapore GP, as the accident would bring the safety car to the track, favoring Alonso, who eventually won the race.
Briatore was found guilty, and was expelled from the Renault team and banned for life from Formula 1. The mood was still tense down at the garage, and the result helped ease wounds. Excited with his first podium win of the season, Alonso dedicated the victory to Briatore.
”I’d like to dedicate it to Flavio, who I know would’ve watched the race on TV,” he said. ”Part of the first success of the season is due to him”.
The next race of the F1 racing season will be the Japan Grand Prix, next Sunday, October 4, at Suzuka. After that, the last two races will be the Brazilian Grand Prix, on October 18 in São Paulo, and the United Arab Emirates Grand Prix, on November 1, in Abu Dhabi.