Hamilton Crashes Out in Singapore

October 3, 2010

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton retired from the Singapore Grand Prix last Sunday following a collision with title rival Mark Webber.

The collision, which occurred as Hamilton attempted to pass championship leader Webber, meant the British driver has failed to finish for the second time in two races. He is now third in the championship, having been leapfrogged by race-winner Fernando Alonso.

Despite qualifying within 0.2 seconds of pole, in race trim Hamilton’s McLaren had no answer for the pace of Alonso’s Ferrari or the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, who pulled away from the rest of the field in a race-long duel.

After a clean opening lap from which the frontrunners emerged in the same order they qualified, the order at the front was established, with Alonso leading from Vettel, Hamilton some distance behind in third, pursued by Button and Webber.

Webber gambled on a contrary strategy to his championship opponents, pitting early after contact between Vitantonio Liuzzi and the returning Nick Heidfeld brought out the safety car. The gamble paid off, as both McLarens emerged from the pits behind the Red Bull. Alonso still led by a narrow margin from Vettel, but now the order behind him was Webber, Hamilton, Button.

The safety car was brought out for the second time after Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, which had impacted a wall, was collected by the Hispania of Bruno Senna. When the race restarted, Webber’s hesitation while passing backmarker Lucas Di Grassi allowed Hamilton to get a run on him down the straight.

The two cars entered turn seven side by side, and made contact as Hamilton, on the outside line, turned in. The McLaren picked up a puncture which forced Hamilton’s retirement from the race. Webber’s Red Bull was able to continue, picking up the final podium position.

The collision was investigated by the race stewards, who took no further action after judging it a ‘racing incident’.

“I’m still not exactly sure what happened with Mark and me,” said Hamilton following the race. “Telling it from my point of view, I saw that he’d made a mistake, and had got caught up with the backmarkers, so I was in position to slipstream him. I was on the outside going into Turn Seven, and he was in my blind-spot, just behind me.

“I thought I’d got sufficiently past him, though. I braked, turned in, and tried to leave enough room for him on the inside – and the next thing I knew I’d got clipped, my tyre was blown, and that was it. But, as the saying goes, I guess that’s motor racing.”

With four races remaining in the season, Hamilton trails Webber by 20 points, with a maximum of 100 points still available. The championship resumes next weekend, at the Suzuka circuit in Japan.

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