Posted Sep 24th 2012 6:01PM
Though you might call the Singapore Grand Prix one of the newer expansion races on the Formula One calendar, its roots actually trace back to 1966 when it was run as part of the (long since defunct) Formula Libre. It came back in 2008 as part of the Formula One World Championship, though, and its first night race at that.
In the four years it's been run prior to today, Fernando Alonso won twice, and Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel each won once under the massive flood lamps at Marina Bay. Would one of these champions win it again, or would a new race winner be crowned? Keep reading to find out.
Related Gallery2012 Singapore Grand Prix
When the dust had settled from Saturday's qualifying sessions, Lewis Hamilton emerged on pole, followed by Williams' Pastor Maldonado, who has been proving his mettle against a field of former world champions lining up behind him. Sebastian Vettel qualified third, Jenson Button fourth, Fernando Alonso fifth and former DTM champ Paul di Resta for Force india in sixth. Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg rounded out the remaining top ten. Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were relegated to twelfth and thirteenth places, respectively. Bruno Senna and Pedro de la Rossa were both handed grid penalties for unscheduled gearbox swaps.
On the first lap on Sunday, both Vettel and Button managed to squeeze by Maldonado, but unlike Belgium, the race start went off largely without incident. That is, at least, until the two Caterham cars embarrassingly collided into each other.
The start didn't go well for Felipe Massa, who picked up a left-rear puncture and was forced to pit from last place. He did, however, set repeated fast laps as he strove to catch up and make up for lost time.
The race proceeded uneventfully until lap 23 when Lewis Hamilton, who had managed to stay out in front of Vettel until then, blew out his gearbox. He coasted to a halt and climbed out of the car to end his race, handing the lead to his rival from Red Bull.
Ten laps later Narain Karthikeyan hit the barrier under the grandstand, losing his front-right wheel, ending his race and deploying the safety car until the debris could be cleared. A flurry of pit stops ensued, but one lap before the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT safety car was recalled, Pastor Maldonado - who had shown such promise with his front-row qualifying position - retired his Williams car with technical problems.
The safety car was called back in one lap later, but not for long. Missing his braking point or suffering some malfunction, Michael Schumacher ran his Mercedes straight into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso. Both were taken out of the race and the safety car went back out on the track.
Caterham suffered a further embarassment in the next round of pit stops as Vitaly Petrov missed his pit stop. The team pushed him back into their box, serviced his car and got him back out on the track having eaten another helping of humble pie.
By lap 43 Massa was up to tenth place, subsequently taking ninth from Bruno Senna, then eighth from Daniel Ricciardo. His former team-mate Kimi Raikkonen then sailed past his new wingman Romain Grosjean for a strategic sixth place.
As if the Maldonado retirement weren't disappointing enough for Williams, Senna was forced to follow on the penultimate lap.
Hitting the two-hour limit, the race was called two laps early as Vettel took the checkered flag. Button and Alonso joined him on the floodlit podium, as di Resta, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Massa, Ricciardo and Webber claimed the remaining points.
The results leave Alonso still in the lead with 194 points, followed by Vettel with 165, Raikkonen with 149, Hamilton with 142 and Webber with 132. In the combined constructors' standings, Red Bull holds the lead with 297 points to McLaren's 261, Ferrari's 245 and Lotus' 231. Join us again for the Japanese Grand Prix from Suzuka on October 7.
Image Credit: Robert Cianflone, Paul Gilham, Clive Mason/Getty | Dita Alangkara, Ng Han Guan, Wong Maye-E, Mark Baker, Bryan van der Beek/AP