Alonso steals Singapore win from 15th on grid

Alonso steals Singapore win from 15th on grid

28 September 2008 – Fernando Alonso made the most of a brave strategy decision to win the Singapore Grand Prix from fifteenth on the grid. The former double world champion fought back from a fuel problem in qualifying to take his first win in a year ahead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in an epic first F1 night race.

It was hot and humid under the Singapore night sky with air temperature 30C and humidity high at 78 per cent. Massa made a great start to lead Hamilton onto the first corner ahead of Raikkonen, Kubica and Vettel climbing to fifth. Alonso made a good start too, the only driver on super soft tyres made three places on the first lap.

At the end of the first lap Massa led Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kubica, Vettel, Glock, Kovalainen and Heidfeld. By lap six Massa had built a three second lead over Hamilton while Raikkonen had dropped eight second off the leader. Meanwhile down the field Jarno Trulli in ninth was holding up a long train of ten cars as he was lapping a full five seconds a lap slower than Massa's pace, but on the tight street circuit there was nothing Rosberg behind him could do to get past until lap seven when he barged past down the inside of turn seven. Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso followed suit on the next two laps.

Massa's lead was constant at three second on lap 10 with Raikkonen beginning to close in, 7.3s off the leader. Alonso was the first driver to pit on lap 12, his short first stint compromised by being stuck behind Trulli for so long.

There was drama on lap 15 as Piquet lost the back of his Renault and smashed into the wall causing the safety car to be deployed. Both Red Bulls managed to dive into the pits before they were closed, but Nico Rosberg and Kubica had to come in for fuel and received a penalty.

The pits reopened on lap 17 and as they did almost the entire field pitted. Massa was first in but he was released before the fuel rig was disconnected and the Brazilian ripped it off and dragged it all the way down to the end of the pit lane. 

He dragged a mechanic to the floor who promptly crawled out of the way to allow mechanics to service Raikkonen's Ferrari. Massa meanwhile was waiting at the end of the pit lane for mechanics to remove the fuel hose and after what seemed like an eternity they did and he rejoined at the back of the field.

The race resumed on lap 19 with Rosberg leading Trulli, Fisichella, Kubica, Alonso, Webber, Coulthard and Hamilton. Raikkonen was down in sixteenth while Massa was down in eighteenth.

On lap 23 Massa was given a drive-through penalty for unsafe release in the pit lane and served it immediately. Kubica was in for his penalty on lap 27 and Rosberg served his from the lead on lap 28 and Fisichella made his pit stop on lap 29.

Trulli inherited the lead on his one stop strategy ahead of Alonso, Rosberg, Coulthard, Hamilton and Glock. On lap 31 Massa was back in the pits for fuel and soft tyres to see him through to the end of the race.

Trulli pitted from the lead on lap 33 as Alonso put in a new personal best lap to take the lead and the Toyota rejoined in eighth. Alonso meanwhile led Rosberg by five seconds with Coulthard a further seven seconds down the road and with Hamilton on his tail.

Alonso put the hammer down and built a lead of almost eight seconds over Rosberg by lap 40 when the Williams pitted. The Spaniard came in the following lap and rejoined ahead of Coulthard and Hamilton and gave the lead McLaren the opportunity to pass Coulthard down the inside of turn seven.

Lap 42 and Hamilton and Coulthard pitted for their final stops with Coulthard almost taking his fuel crew with him, but rejoining behind Jarno Trulli.

Alonso resumed the lead and looked to be cruising to the flag until lap 51 when Adrian Sutil put his Force India into the wall causing the safety car to be deployed for the second time.

The safety car came in on lap 53 and Alonso streaked off into the lead again with Rosberg fending off an early challenge from Hamilton. Alonso was in a class of his own however, pulling out six seconds over Rosberg in just two laps as the Williams kept Hamilton at bay. 

There was more drama just four laps from the end as Raikkonen jumped over the kerbs at the chicane and slammed into the wall, losing fifth place and four points. 

Alonso controlled the race to the flag to take his first victory in a year ahead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Third place puts Hamilton seven points clear of Massa in the championship with three races to go.

Timo Glock brought his Toyota home in fourth ahead of another strong drive of Vettel in fifth. Heidfeld, Coulthard and Nakajima rounded off the top eight.

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