Lewis Hamilton leads the Formula 1 field in Singapore under the lights.PHOTO BY MOTORSPORT IMAGES-LAT
Sebastian Vettel finishes third to fall 40 points back in the championship
BY: SAM HALL
Lewis Hamilton put one hand on the Formula 1 championship trophy with an workmanlike, almost too-easy, lights-to-flag victory at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.
With the victory, the seventh of the season in 15 races and the 69th of his F1 career, Hamilton increased his points lead over Sebastian Vettel to 40 with just six races remaining. About the most interesting part of the day for the reigning champion would be finding out that this is the 44th time that he has won from pole position a number that adorns his Mercedes.
“I’m spent,” said Hamilton. “That was a tough race. I had such great support here. We had a great start, the team have just never given up faith in me and in Valtteri (Bottas) and in our ability and it was a real blessing.
“It was a long race. It felt like the longest race of my life, so I’m glad it’s over. Max (Verstappen) put up a good fight as well but what a day, what a weekend. I’m super blessed.”
Red Bull’s Verstappen finished second, 8.961 seconds back. Vettel completed the podium, nearly 40 seconds off the pace.
The only moment of danger for Hamilton came late in the race when Hamilton had to get past backmarkers Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin. The two were embroiled in their own duel and as Sirotkin slowed for the blue flags, Grosjean decided to attempt a pass on the Russian rather than obey the flags. Grosjean would later receive a five-second penalty for this, but it briefly allowed Verstappen to close right onto the tail of the championship leader.
“I think I was a little bit unlucky with the traffic,” said Hamilton. “These guys (Sirotkin and Grosjean) were moving around and it’s quite difficult to follow. I think Max was probably a little bit lucky in getting by in terms of what point on the track and the guys wouldn’t let me by so, jeez, it was definitely close. My heart was definitely in my mouth for a minute, but once I got clear of them, I was able to get the pedal down and pull away.”
Ferrari had come into the weekend expecting to take pole on Saturday and the win on Sunday so if failing to do so in Belgium was disappointing, failing again in Italy was painful then a further failure in Singapore is a punch to the gut.
After qualifying just third on Saturday, Vettel made a good start to pass the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, but an early pit stop to attempt an undercut on Hamilton failed. It dropped him briefly behind Serio Perez in the Force India, but ultimately cost him ground on Hamilton and track position to Verstappen.
Running the ultra-soft tires while those around him ran the more durable soft tire, Vettel hit the team radio questioning whether they would make the end of the race without another stop. You could hear the defeat in his voice and, while he was able to make the flag, third place and over half a minute off victor Hamilton will seem like a defeat.
“Overall we were not fast enough,” said Vettel. “We didn’t have the pace in the race, but also I think we tried to be aggressive in the beginning and it obviously didn’t work out so after that I think I had a different race to the other guys. On the different tire and I wasn’t very convinced that we could make it to the end. Pitting was no option because you lose too much time in the pitstop so we just focused on making it home. “
Turning his attention to the championship battle and the 40-point deficit he now faces Vettel added, “It (today’s race) doesn’t help. Obviously, I’m mostly thinking about today’s race and I think today with the way we raced we didn’t have a chance. There might be something extra in the car that fact that we maybe were not quick enough but I think I said before the weekend that we can only beat ourselves and I think that this weekend we didn’t get everything out of our package.”
Early drama came when Perez and Force India teammate Esteban Ocon tangled on lap 1 of the race, putting Ocon out of the race on the spot. A brief safety car period bunched the pack up but the only real action after this came when Perez again had a coming together with Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, this time receiving a drive through penalty for his troubles.
Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix results
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||1:51:11.611|
|2||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+8.961 secs.|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||+39.945|
|4||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||+51.930|
|5||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||+53.001|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+53.982|
|7||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team||+1:43.011|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Renault Sport Formula One Team||+1 Lap|
|9||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo SauberF1 Team||+1 Lap|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport Formula One Team||+1 Lap|
|11||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo SauberF1 Team||+1 Lap|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|13||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||+1 Lap|
|14||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||+1 Lap|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|16||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Force India F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||+1 Lap|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||+2 Laps|
|19||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing||+2 Laps|
|20||Esteban Ocon||Racing Point Force India F1 Team||DNF