Our 2022 Singapore Grand Prix ended much earlier than we would have liked, with both drivers failing to see the chequered flag around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
A torrential downpour 90 minutes before the race had been scheduled to start led to a 65 minute delay, with proceedings getting underway on intermediate tyres.
Alex Albon would spin at T7 on the opening lap which saw the Thai racer drop to the back of the field, whilst Nicholas Latifi climbed up to P17 on the first tour of this 23-turn venue.
Nicky was soon in a battle with his former sparring partner George Russell, but the Mercedes, who had started from the pit lane, would eventually get past on Lap 5.
Our Canadian was then engaged in a duel with Zhou Guanyu, and the pair collided going into T5 on Lap 7, with the Alfa Romeo driver having to pull to the side of the road, bringing out the Safety Car.
Nicky made it back around to the pits with just a puncture, but suspension damage was spotted in the box and the decision was made to retire the car.
The stewards deemed the contact to be the fault of our No6 and he will face a five-place grid drop next week in Japan.
Alex, now our sole entry left in the Grand Prix, remained in P17 through the Safety Car period and into a Virtual Safety Car spell caused by Fernando Alonso’s retirement on Lap 22.
All the time, the track was drying and conversations were ongoing as to when the switch to slick tyres would be made.
At the VSC restart, Kevin Magnussen would get the jump on Alex before his race would be brought to a premature end.
On Lap 26, he would lock up and slide into the wall at T8, losing his front wing and picking up a puncture for his troubles.
He would limp back around to pits and the call was made to put him onto the medium compound, however, he would not return to the circuit as, like his teammate, further damage was discovered and his race was over – a cruel end after a remarkable return to action following respiratory failure during an appendectomy just three weeks ago.
An early end for both of our drivers
“It’s a bit frustrating and was difficult out there tonight,” Alex explained after hopping out of the car, continuing: “It’s confusing with nothing different from the previous lap, however, I just locked up on the front left with the wet making it difficult to predict the brakes.
“Whilst there wasn’t an issue and ultimately it comes down to driver error, the brakes are very tricky in the wet and it’s hard to get them in the right window.
“We knew coming into Singapore we likely wouldn’t be fighting for points, so whilst it’s difficult, we can look to Japan and come back fighting.”
Nicky reflected on a difficult afternoon by sharing: “From the previous corner I had looked in the mirrors to see where Zhou Guanyu was.
“I didn’t see he was there, so I took my normal approach for the racing line on the following corner.
“I don’t know if he was in a blind spot of the car where the mirror can’t pick up. Unfortunately, he was there and in hindsight, I needed to leave more room, but I can only go off what I can see in the mirrors.
“The aim was to see the chequered flag and learn from the experience with it being my first race here, however, the incident caused suspension damage which forced us to retire the car.”
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Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, completed our reaction by sharing his views from the pit wall.
“Conditions once the race started were like those we had yesterday, with intermediate tyres the correct choice for the race start as the track was taking a long time to dry,” he explained.
“Pace was dependent on whether the wear rate of the intermediates matched the rate of track drying. Even when the track dried, it remained very slippery and racing was particularly difficult.
“Alex’s spin on the opening lap cost him some places but also damaged the car, which harmed the aero for the rest of the weekend. When he hit the wall again, the damage was too significant to continue and so we retired his car.
“Nicholas was fighting to hold off Zhou Guanyu early in the race, which ended in contact and suspension damage on Nicholas’s car.
“It has been a tough couple of days, and we have some work to do to get the cars ready for the race next weekend.
“However, we are looking forward to going back to Suzuka and taking on the challenge of one of the drivers’ favourite tracks on the Formula One calendar.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Jamie Chadwick was unable to claim her third W Series title after hitting the wall just a handful of laps before the end of the race – her first DNF in the championship.
She remains 50 points clear of the rest of the field with just two races left in the season.
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