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Bore in Singapore not good for sport

The night-time city backdrop may make the Singapore Grand Prix unique, but it is an annual shame that the absence of any on-track excitement dilutes the race's spectacular setting.

The night-time city backdrop may make the Singapore Grand Prix unique, but it is an annual shame that the absence of any on-track excitement dilutes the race's spectacular setting. Even with an epic championship tussle nearing its dramatic conclusion, Singapore again failed to deliver. In short, it was hardly the most interesting spectacle and made for a long two hours.

The field was stretched and there were few incidents and talking points. Unfortunately, the corners which litter the circuit are not conducive to over-taking and drivers just cannot get close enough to make passing attempts. It is sad, but it happens. From time to time, Formula One throws up a race where there is no real action. Predictability reigns. I remember it happening at the Nurburgring a few years ago. No one could do anything to change their position and the whole race passed without any over-taking opportunities. Everything went as expected and any sense of excitement was lost.

It happened again in Singapore. The drivers knew qualifying was vital and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - in a car ideally suited to Singapore's slower, high down-force circuit - was widely expected to win after grabbing pole. He did - easily. It is regrettable that the world champion's complete domination in the race was overshadowed by the Brawn championship battle further down the points. It was odd knowing that most eyes were fixed on a race within a race. But it was also inevitable. The title showdown between the Brawn teammates Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello is, Renault aside, the biggest story in Formula One at present.

Until the title's destiny is decided, everything else will take a back-seat. Button has added an extra point to his lead now and a good performance in Japan should see the Briton hold off the Brazilian and claim a maiden championship. I was a little surprised that Barrichello never quite got going in Singapore. He needs to start eating into Button's lead. And urgently. With just three races left, he is still 15 points behind. Finishing above or near Button is not enough, Barrichello needs victories.

Elsewhere, the Red Bull challenge looks over. Fourth place was a decent result for Sebastian Vettel, but it is not a championship lifeline for the German. Mark Webber seemed to have a problem with his brake discs and did not back off when the team advised him to. The Australian paid the price - his title dreams lie in ruins. Ferrari had a weekend to forget. Giancarlo Fisichella looked a long way off the pace and Kimi Raikkonen was never at the sharp end of the points.

Credit goes to Timo Glock for his second place though in the Toyota. It was a strong showing and the German's mature drive at least kept some pressure on Hamilton at the front until the end. Fernando Alonso, who could be unveiled as a Ferrari driver before this weekend's race in Japan, did well to grab third. But the Spaniard's decision to dedicate his podium to disgraced the former Renault team director Flavio Briatore was not very wise.

Yes, the pair got on well and enjoyed a close relationship. But at the end of a week in which Formula One made news for all the wrong reasons, Alonso's sentiments, however well-intended, were misplaced. The Italian played a key role in Alonso's two world championship wins, and I understand his desire to want to thank him, but in my view it should have been done over dinner. sports@thenational.ae

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