x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Alonso wins first F1 night race

The two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso of Renault wins the inaugural night race at the Singapore GP after starting from 15th.

Renault's Fernando Alonso writes his name in the history books as the first winner of a Formula one night race.
Renault's Fernando Alonso writes his name in the history books as the first winner of a Formula one night race.

SINGAPORE // The two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso of Renault has won the inaugural night race at the Singapore Grand Prix after starting from 15th on the grid. The Spaniard finished ahead of the Williams' driver Nico Rosberg, while Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was third. Alonso's 20th grand prix victory was helped by a catastrophic pit-stop accident for Felipe Massa of Ferrari, who had started in pole position.

Massa drove away with the gasoline hose attached to his car, tearing it off its mooring and spewing gasoline in the air as it trailed the Brazilian's car. The Brazilian led the early part of the race from pole position, but his race was ruined when he pitted after the end of a safety car period at the start of lap 20. Massa pulled away from his stop prematurely, taking the fuel rig and hose with him up the pit lane, knocking over one of his mechanics - who was taken for medical treatment - and almost collided with another car as he pulled away from the garage. By the time the Ferrari crew was able to sprint the length of pit lane and wrestle the rig out of the waiting car, Massa had dropped from the lead to 18th and last. He then incurred a drive-through penalty for an "unsafe release from a pit stop". Massa finished in 13th place. It was a dismal race for Ferrari, with the reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen crashing out on the 58th of 61 laps. The Italian team's pointless finish and Hamilton's third place lifted McLaren to the top of the constructors' standings by one point. The Toyota driver Timo Glock was fourth and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel took fifth. In sixth was the BMW driven by Nick Heidfeld, ahead of the Red Bull driver David Coulthard and Kazuki Nakajima of the Williams' team. Rosberg led the race and Robert Kubica was fourth for BMW after the first set of stops and safety-car period. But they were subsequently penalised with stop-go penalties for pitting under safety car conditions before clearance was given. They were forced into those stops due to lack of fuel. Rosberg got the benefit of delaying his stop-go penalty for a few laps at the front of the field, so even after his penalty he emerged only just behind Alonso. The Red Bull driver Mark Webber was running in second place, only a second behind Alonso when his car lost seventh gear and he was forced to retire in the middle part of the race. The safety car was deployed again on lap 52 after Adrian Sutil for Force India hit a barrier and blocked turn 18. That stacked the whole field together, completely negating the 23.5-second lead that Alonso had built up. However, the Spaniard immediately sprinted away from the field upon resumption of racing and was untroubled in winning by 2.9 seconds. *AP