Tom Clarkson's 2008 Singapore Grand Prix race report

Published: 29 September 2008

It’s 3am on Monday. The Singapore Grand Prix finished five hours ago and still the lights lining the Marina Bay Circuit blaze away outside the press room. Artificial light is now the norm for F1 folk in Singapore; the reality of sunlight and normal working hours will have to be confronted at a later date.

The guys at Renault are treasuring the moment. Outside the window by my desk, Alonso's mechanics are still wandering around in the pitlane with champagne bottles. This is the team’s first win since Suzuka 2006 and it’s thoroughly deserved. Alonso drove faultlessly from 15th on the grid, his short first stint putting him in a position to benefit most when the inevitable safety cars were deployed.

For all Renault’s excellence and opportunism, Ferrari were poor – again. The pace of their F2008 was okay, as demonstrated by Massa, but yet another procedural error cost the team dear. No-one was physically hurt in the refuelling fracas on lap 17 (unlike at Valencia, where a similar incident occurred), but it cost Felipe a potential win and shifted the balance of power in the World Championship. With a seven-point advantage at the top of the points’ table, Lewis – who drove a quiet race to third place – is now in control.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, continued to show erratic form. He was slow early on, before speeding up prior to his first pitstop (setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 14) and then binning it with four laps of the race remaining. In these financially strapped times, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo must wince at Kimi’s $32 million a year pay cheque. Value for money? I think not.

Finally, it was great to see Williams punching above their weight. The team might lie eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, but Sir Frank’s cars scored points on merit. Nico Rosberg looked very assured at the front of the field and he left the paddock half an hour ago (2:30am), following his career-best second place, saying: 'The night is still young!' A good lad, is Nico.

And so ends the most enjoyable race weekend of recent years. The Marina Bay Circuit was a wonderful challenge for the drivers – didn’t the cars look spectacular over the bumps? – and the organisation of the event was second to none. If this is the new benchmark for races, perhaps Bernie was right to put Silverstone out of its misery.

Singapore Grand Prix race results

1 Fernando Alonso, Renault
2 Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
3 Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
4 Timo Glock, Toyota
5 Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
6 Nick Heidfeld, BMW-Sauber
7 David Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault
8 Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota

2008 World Championship standings

1 Hamilton 84pts
2 Massa 77pts
3 Kubica 64pts
4 Raikkonen 57pts
5 Heidfeld 56pts
6 Kovalainen 51pts
7 Alonso 38pts

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By Tom Clarkson

F1 correspondent, BBC pitlane man, accesser of all areas, head beans-spiller

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