Sebastian Vettel took his third victory of the season at Singapore, leading every lap and surviving a virtual safety car and two actual safety cars to take the win in a race that went the full two-hour distance.
The Scuderia Ferrari driver made a great start from pole position to lead Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo into the first corner, and was untouchable for the remainder of the afternoon to take his 42nd career victory to move into third place outright in the all-time winners list ahead of Ayrton Senna.
A crash on the thirteenth lap between Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa saw the Sahara Force India driver end up in the turn three barriers, while the Williams Martini Racing driver continued, with Hulkenberg deemed responsible, with the stewards handing the German driver a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Japan.
The virtual safety car was initially called, but enough debris was on the track for officials to release the actual safety car, negating the five-second lead Vettel had over Ricciardo.
The second safety car was far more serious, particularly for the Singapore officials, when a fan found his way onto the circuit and walked along the side of the track. The safety car interventions ruined any chance of the race being affected by strategy, with Vettel, Ricciardo and third placed Kimi Raikkonen all pitting under both safety cars.
It was status quo for the top three until the end, with Raikkonen dropping back from the front two to finish 17.154s back, but completed a good afternoon for Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton was on course to finish fourth after jumping ahead of Daniil Kvyat during the first round of pit stops as the Briton benefited from pitting under the virtual safety car while the Russian pitted under green-flags, but his Mercedes developed a fault that affected his acceleration, and after dropping back through the field, he called it a day just after half distance for his first retirement of 2015.
His Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg inherited fourth as a result to close the gap to Hamilton in the championship to 41 points.
Valtteri Bottas survived a late issue with his gearbox to finish fifth for Williams, just ahead of Kvyat, who lost ground in both pit stops due to the safety cars.
Sergio Perez continued his good run of form with seventh for Force India, holding off the challenge of Scuderia Toro Rosso do Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr over the closing laps. Verstappen lucked in during the first safety car period as he had stalled at the start, and rejoined a lap down, but was able to recover that lap when Hulkenberg and Massa crashed.
Sainz was equally impressive to finish ninth after losing ground after his car went into neutral on the second restart, but followed his team-mate through past the Sauber and Lotus drivers and into ninth.
Felipe Nasr took advantage of a grip-less Romain Grosjean to take the final point for the Sauber team, while the Lotus driver retired on the penultimate lap after falling out of points contention due to his tyre issues.
Marcus Ericsson was just outside the points in eleventh in the second Sauber, just holding off Pastor Maldonado in the second Lotus on the final lap, while Alexander Rossi finished ahead of Manor F1 Team team-mate Will Stevens on his Formula 1 debut despite running more than half the race without a working pit-to-car radio.
Both McLaren-Honda drivers were in points contention in the early stages, but both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso retired with gearbox issues, joining Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Massa in retirement, the Brazilian retiring with an electrical issue on half distance. Button had earlier hit Maldonado, breaking his front wing and ruining his chance of points and damaging the Lotus driver’s diffuser.
Hamilton still leads the championship by more than a race win’s advantage from Rosberg, while Vettel’s victory means he is only eight points behind the second Mercedes, while Raikkonen’s podium promotes him into fourth, albeit well adrift of the top three.
Singapore Grand Prix Race Result
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||+1.478s|
|6||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||+35.508s|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+50.836s|
|8||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||+51.450s|
|9||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||+52.860s|
|13/RET||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Lotus-Mercedes||+2 Laps|
|14||53||Alexander Rossi||USA||Manor-Ferrari||+2 Laps|
|15||28||Will Stevens||GBR||Manor-Ferrari||+2 Laps|
|RET||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||Retired|