McLaren's Lewis Hamilton saw his race go up in smoke half way through the Singapore Grand Prix. The English driver was left with no transmission after leading cleanly from the start at the Marina Bay circuit. He cut a sorry figure walking back to the pits with his head hung low.
Amidst rumours of his recent contract renewal with the team and its alleged pay-cut offer, things were not exactly looking pleasant at the Woking head quarters. The team once managed solely by Ron Dennis, had further distanced themselves from Hamilton after this mechanical failure.
By the weekend after, his decision was made. He would drive for Mercedes in 2013.
Sebastian Vettel's win meant he is now back in the title chase behind Alonso. The Ferrari driver still leads the championship by 29 points from the German defending champion. Behind them is the cool and calm Finn Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton lies in fourth, 52 points adrift. Although he still has a mathematical chance of reigning in the Spaniard, one begins to wonder how motivated he will be for a team he has just bid farewell to.
Pastor Maldonado made a mash of his high qualifying position. The pressure of being watched closely by race officials probably got to him at the start line and he quickly lost places to the Red Bulls and Lotuses. On his attempt to claw back the deficit, he ran into one of the Force Indias and ultimately retired with hydraulics problems.
The night race saw the Safety Car come out twice to slow down proceedings, which eventually saw the race cross its two hour limit and therefore, reduced to 59 laps. Narain Karthikeyan crashed into the barriers after skating on the marbles. And to make his incident look dull, German ace Michael Schumacher crashed into the back of Jean Eric Vergne!
The most decorated driver in Formula One finds himself with no seat for next season after Mercedes signed Hamilton. Initially, television replays showed a sort of brake lock-up and throttle jam on Schumacher's car, but the stewards thought differently and have penalised him for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Jenson Button held on to second place behind the Red Bull but was never in a position to truly challenge Vettel for the race win. Behind him, a stealthy drive from the ever fighting Fernando Alonso saw him take a worthy third place on the podium. On a day when his Ferrari didn't look the part. These drives make Alonso great. He manages to score important points when the car doesn't deliver and takes wins when it can.
This might just see him through to a third world title denying Vettel a hat-trick.
Paul Di Resta drove a strong night race to record his highest ever finish in Formula One. His race to P4 started rumours around the paddock that McLaren would grab him to replace Hamilton. But as we now know that honour went to the super fast Mexican Sergio Perez. Whether McLaren really believe in his raw speed or going one up on Ferrari by stealing their much rumoured future driver was the ultimate reason, we will never know. The silly season is well and truly on us.
Thanks mainly to an unreliable McLaren at Singapore.