Singapore Grand Prix: A Wasted Opportunity

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIISeptember 28, 2009

SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 26:  (EDITORS NOTE: A SPECIAL EFFECTS FILTER WAS USED IN THE CREATION OF THIS IMAGE) Kazuki Nakajima of Japan and Williams drives down the pitlane during final practice prior to qualifying for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 26, 2009 in Singapore.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The ‘accident’ that gifted Alonso victory in the debut Grand Prix of Singapore was difficult to follow.

The second trip to Formula 1’s first night race was somewhat lacking in such dramatics, but none the less featured its fair share of talking points.

Hamilton’s victory seemed effortless, helped in retrospect by clumsy errors by Nico Rosberg and Sebastien Vettel who portrayed the closest challenge to Hamilton’s commanding performance.

Nico Rosberg produced a stunning display of pace in qualifying, transforming this into a solid competitive showing in the early stages of the race. This display was reminiscent of many of his races this season, as it seems that more than most he is proving capable of outperforming his car.

Yet his clumsy error which forced a drive through penalty at the worst possible position proved very costly. His inability to take his penalty behind the safety car left no room for a points finish as even in his best attempts he still returned from the pits in fourteenth. This emergence from his penalty was damage limitation.

To go from what appeared a guaranteed podium to nothing at all was heartbreaking, especially when considering that minus the safety car he would still have been credited the odd point or two. Nico was helpless in his situation.

This mistake should however have proved a gift to his much slated team mate Kazuki Nakajima. As the only full time driver this season to not score a world championship point the Japanese driver is giving no indication of a level of talent required to compete at the highest level of motor sport.

For every race of this season he has rarely been the slowest, but has yet to manage a performance worthy of note. The closest he has come to breaking his point’s drought has been a couple of top ten finishes. 

This record makes the mind boggle when you remember that Bourdais and Piquet Jr were both replaced for a lack of results. Bourdais seems unlucky in hindsight. Accompany this with the visible fact that beneath him he has a car capable of scoring point’s race in race out and his survival seems remarkable.

For a team to have a lead driver scoring one hundred percent of the constructors’ points shows an abundance of speed and aggression in one driver, weakness and vulnerability in the other.

And the recent Grand Prix in Singapore further highlighted his inability to perform. With one pit stop remaining Kazuki effectively had eighth place and a point in his grasp.

Such a point for Kazuki would provide a boost in his confidence, although it would have done little to improve his future prospects. Nobody expects him to be in a seat next season.

The loss of his possible points finish today was simple when searching for an explanation; he was out-pitted late on by the vastly improved BMW at the hands of Robert Kubica.

At such a crucial period of the Grand Prix Kazuki failed to achieve fast enough lap times to make it count. If he had been able to produce superior laps he would have left Kubica needing to overtake him at a circuit with only one obvious passing point.

Yet this tactical triumph for the Pole left Kazuki finishing agonisingly a second shy of a points finish and left the Japanese driver remaining at the bottom of field.

His only visible saviour this season is that there is no point in William’s replacing him and there never really has been.

Other teams have replaced drivers and due to the in season testing ban have gotten nowhere.

Therefore Kazuki will see out the remainder of the season but you expect it to be regarded as the climax to his career. Even a credible race result would act as nothing more than a consolation for someone who should have a lot more to offer.