Here Comes the Night

Posted on 29th September 2008

Sunday afternoon I settled down to watch a bit of history. The first Formula 1 night race in Singapore. I wasn't expecting much from the race much beyond a parade lap, and a few place swaps thanks to well timed pit stops. However, as I predicted last week, the main reason the finishing order was different from the starting grid was down to accidents. Personally I don't find those kinds of accidents fun, as the driver is already being tested to the limit and driving a millimeter over the edge sends you crashing into the wall.

Ferrari cocked things up good and proper for themselves, and regardless of who is to blame, something more than a slap on the wrist should be done about releasing drivers into the path of other cars. Adrian Sutil must be about ready to take a hammer to Massa's car. After the incident in Valcencia, for Massa to pull out again in front of Sutil and almost collide with him, is really too much. For the first incident, Mass received a €10,000 fine. and yesterday he was given a drive through penalty. Thankfully Massa seemed to completely lose any desire to compete for the rest of the race. Ferrari, however, should have their whole pit and garage communication abilities investigated. If any team repeatedly releases their driver into the path of another, then there should be some heavy penalty (deduction of constructors points or hefty fine) to deter anyone doing it again. I did feel for Sutil later in the race as he pretty much had nowhere to go but the wall, after Massa spun into the wall ahead of him, then pulled forward to rejoin the race. Again a decent run off area would have avoided that.

I suspect that Massa's release from the pits will be heavily investigated anyway, as driving off down the pit with a fuel hose attached to you shouldn't happen. David Coulthard almost got caught out with that too in the final stages of the race. After the 1994 incident with Jos Verstappen, who was racing for Benetton (who are now owned by Renault) at the time, it always make me really nervous to see those kinds of accidents.

I was pleased for Hamilton taking away championship points, but it did seem like he was struggling to race, getting continually caught up behind cars and finding it extremely difficult to pass. It's the latter I really don't like about street racing. Although the Singapore track was wide enough to pass in places, if you looked closely the amount of debris off the racing line would have been like racing over cobblestones for a forumla 1 car. In fact at the end of the race you could see the tyres of the cars as they came into Park Firma, as they looked they were about to disintegrate. On a traditional racing circuit the debris is considerably reduced as only racing cars are driving on it, and with the additional grass borders around the track, catching a bit of gravel or driving slightly on the kerb, only means you run on the grass for a bit and lose pace. Being taken out the race just causes far too many other problems. Safety cars seem to have featured rather too much in recent times.

The idea of a night race isn't bad, and the track was well light. However, as one commentator said, having Singapore as a night race every year could get rather boring. For me, without the accidents the race would have been very boring indeed. I hope that Japan in two weeks time sees the end of the unwanted incidents that have plague the rest of the season.

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