Vettel Wins in Singapore but Championship Celebrations Must Wait Until Japan


Sebastian Vettel leads the field through the opening corners of the Singapore Grand Prix - Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel leads the field through the opening corners of the Singapore Grand Prix - Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

 

Sebastian Vettel took a straightforward yet flawless pole-to-flag victory in the Singapore night race but will have to wait until the next grand prix in Japan before confirming his second title.

Jenson Button finished the race second and now remains the only possible challenger to Vettel. However, for Button to win the title this year, he will need to win all of the remaining five races and hope that Vettel does not score a single point.

Mark Webber came third but Fernando Alonso missed out on a podium finish for the first time in Singapore after finishing fourth.

Lewis Hamilton had another eventful race which included a collision with Felipe Massa and another drive-through penalty before recovering to finish fifth. Paul di Resta secured his best-ever F1 finish to take sixth whilst Nico Rosberg and Adrian Sutil finished seventh and eighth. Massa and Sergio Perez took the remaining points.

Sebastian Vettel got a great start and scampered off into the first corner leading the race. Mark Webber once again lost places off the line, and was down to fourth by the end of the first lap. Jenson Button realised his target of being second into the first corner and Fernando Alosno jumped from fifth to third.

Lewis Hamilton was the biggest loser on the opening lap though, dropping from fourth to eighth in a matter of corners. He found himself staring at the back of Michael Schumacher's Mercedes in the early laps – a sight he will be sick of after events in Italy a fortnight ago.

Luckily for Hamilton, DRS got him past the seven-time world champion on Lap 4. However, by the end of that lap, Vettel had a lead of 5.5 seconds over Button already, and looked on course for another straightforward victory.

Hamilton used the same tactics to get past Nico Rosberg on the next lap, but this Mercedes yielded more readily than Schumacher had. Hamilton was up to sixth, and Felipe Massa was his next target.

Nico Rosberg was the first person to pit, coming in at the end of Lap 9, and Schumacher followed his Mercedes team-mate in on the following lap.

Webber managed to pull off a brave overtaking manoeuvre on Alonso for third place and, once the position was lost, the Ferrari driver then dived in to the pits for a set of the slower prime tyres.

Massa and Hamilton both came in at the end of Lap 11 but, despite the best efforts of the McLaren pit crew, Hamilton remained behind Massa. Then, in the same corner were Hamilton clashed with Webber last season, he tried an audacious move on Massa and made contact with the back end of the Ferrari. Hamilton lost his front wing in the clumsy manoeuvre, and gave Massa – who did little wrong – a right-rear puncture.

Massa came into the pits at the end of that lap, but Hamilton continued to drive round with only half a front wing. He came in the next time round and took on a set of the Prime tyres at the same time. Hamilton came out of the pits in P16 and was then handed a drive-through penalty by the stewards for causing the accident.

Whilst this was happening, Mark Webber made his first pit stop, but could not overtake Alonso in the stop. Vettel and Button pitted at the end of Lap 14 and retained their track positions.

At the end of Lap 16, just over quarter race distance, Vettel had a lead of 11.4 seconds over Button. Paul di Resta, who started the race from tenth place on the prime tyre, was running third, but had not yet stopped. Alonso was fourth, Webber was fifth, but Hamilton, having just served his drive-through penalty, had dropped down to nineteenth.

Hamilton steadily made his way back up through the field and, on Lap 25, passed Massa for P12. There was no repeat of the previous shenanigans – Massa made a mistake on the way into the DRS activation zone and Hamilton did not even need to open his rear-wing.

There was drama on Lap 30 when Michael Schumacher misjudged an overtaking manoeuvre on Sergio Perez. He ran straight into the back of the Sauber driver, the nose of his Mercedes lifted right into the air, and he came to a halt buried deep in the barrier. This led to the traditional Singapore safety car appearance and a flurry of pit stops.

The top five behind the safety car was Vettel, Button, Alonso, Webber and Di Resta.  Hamilton was now running ninth, and Massa was down in twelfth. Vettel had a lead of over 20 seconds before the safety car had come out, but that margin was significantly eroded by that safety car period. However, there were three lapped cars between Vettel and Button as the safety car came back into the pits at the end of Lap 33.

Mark Webber caught Alonso napping just before the chicane on the restart lap, and made it up into third place. Hamilton was the driver on the move though, getting past Sergio Perez, Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg, and Paul di Resta in the space of six laps, quickly making it up into fifth place. Next in his sights was Alonso – thirteen seconds down the road – but the Ferrari driver was lapping at a similar place.

Webber pitted from third at the end of Lap 47, and he re-joined the field just behind Hamilton, but got past the Brit later that lap.

Button came in at the end of Lap 48 for a set of super-soft tyres, and Hamilton also came in behind his team-mate, though he chose the soft Pirelli compound. Vettel responded at the end of Lap 49 to make his third stop of the afternoon. He was given a set of super-soft tyres by his Red Bull pit crew before Team Lotus almost spoiled his afternoon by releasing Heikki Kovalainen into Vettel's path on exiting the pit lane. Alonso also came in, taking on a set of soft tyres.

Ten laps from the end of the race and the order was Vettel leading, with a 12.3 second lead over Button. Webber was a further 7.7 seconds down the road and Alonso was 20.9 seconds further back. Paul di Resta and Nico Rosberg were fifth and sixth, but they were quickly being hunted down by Lewis Hamilton once again. Hamilton was up to fifth just three laps later.

Button then began a futile attempt to chase down Vettel in those closing ten laps, taking about a second out of the German's lead on each lap. McLaren were throwing caution to the wind, clearly remembering the Canadian Grand Prix from earlier this year when Button overtook the world champion on the final lap.

Three laps from the end though, Button encountered traffic, including the two Williams drivers having an intra-team squabble. The gap grew again, and Button's slim hopes of catching the leader completely evaporated. Jaime Alguersuari crashed in the tunnel under the grandstand, bringing out some yellow flags for the remaining two laps.

Vettel crossed the line unchallenged, increasing his lead to 124 points – just one point short from taking his second championship. Jenson Button finished 1.7 seconds behind him, and remains the only possible title challenger to the German.

 

Click here for race results and team reactions