Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s chances of taking the F1 world titles this season as Lewis Hamilton took his Mercedes to a seemingly easy victory under the bright lights in Singapore. Having taken a stunning pole position, the Englishman extended his lead to 40 points, giving Vettel a very difficult job to do if he is to overhaul him by season’s end.
The race began smoothly for the front runners with Vettel having a charge on Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, the Dutchman having started on the front row, and taking the place from him after the first corner. Behind them things were not so good in the Force India camp, as the two drivers went side by side into turn three, with Sergio Pere nudging team mate Esteban Ocon into the wall. The safety car was immediately deployed.
Up front, Hamilton appeared to have things under control as he managed the gap to his pursuers, and it was Ferrari who made the first move on lap 14, bringing Vettel in for a new set of ultrasoft tyres. This would be a crucial choice. Hamilton followed a lap later, the Mercedes crew putting him onto the soft option, and rejoins the pack ahead of his rival.
A little light rain caused a brief scare approaching half-distance but came to nothing, and at lap 30, with the pit stops done, Hamilton led Verstappen – who had jumped Vettel in the pit stop stage – by little more than 4 seconds, with Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes next, followed by the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, and a fast-charging Daniel Riccardo in the Red Bull.
Perez In the Wars
This would not be a great afternoon for Sergio Perez as, having already taken his team mate out of the race, on lap 34 he had a moment with the Williams of Sergei Sirotkin which would earn him a penalty. Hamilton was clear at the front despite Verstappen’s very best efforts, with Vettel dropping away as his tyres could not keep up the pace – the ultrasoft was the wrong choice.
The order would remain the same despite a few shuffles in the mid-field, with Hamilton taking the flag to win the Singapore Grand Prix by a shade less than 7 seconds from Max Verstappen, with Vettel some 33 seconds behind the leader at the end.
In fourth place was Valtteri Bottas, the Mercedes driver having gamely held off an attack from a faster Raikkonen who finished just over a second behind, with sixth going to Ricciardo and Red Bull. In 7th place was Fernando Alonso, giving McLaren their best result for a long time, whilst the man who replaces him at McLaren next year – Carlos Sainz – took 8th for Renault. Charles Leclerc, who moves to Ferrari for 2019, had another good race for Sauber with a 9th position finish, while the final point went to Nico Hulkenberg in the other Renault.
Hamilton now leads the driver’s championship from Vettel by 40 points, with Ferrari some 37 points behind in the constructors table. The next race is the Russian GP in Sochi, in two weeks’ time.
Images Copyright of: F1.