Vettel on top after dramatic Singapore Grand Prix
Four times world champion Sebastian Vettel took his third victory of the season in a bizarre Singapore Grand Prix, which saw a spectator invading the track, and the first did not finish of the year for championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Starting from the pole, the Ferrari number one sprinted away and never appeared challenged throughout the 61 laps around the Marina Bay circuit, on-route to securing his 41st career win, putting him nine victories behind the record of former four times world champion, Alain Prost.
“It must be one of my best races. It was pretty intense. The second stint I was dictating the pace and then using that tactically and from then controlling the gap. The car had so much pace,” a delighted Vettel told former team owner and now BBC analyst, Eddie Jordan, on the podium afterwards.
“If we have more weekends like this, we can catch Mercedes. Maybe we can make the impossible possible - we will definitely go for it”.
Vettel’s victory in the sweltering Singapore humidity ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, was in stark contrast to a miserable weekend for the season dominating Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Having qualified on the third row of the grid, the team’s lowest of the season, neither of the Silver Arrows appeared to have the pace of the Ferraris or Red Bulls as Rosberg eventually finished fourth, while Hamilton had his championship lead cut to 41 points after retiring mid-race with what was later identified as a faulty clamp between the intercooler and plenum.
“The clamp was on the plenum and holding the plenum together and when that jumped off it caused a boost leak. It's a freak thing. We've run the design for a long time and it just broke,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky F1 after the race.
In a race often characterised by the deployment of safety cars, Hamilton’s loss in power and eventual retirement came not long after an incident involving the Williams of Felipe Massa and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Existing the pits after completing his first stop, the Brazilian seemed unaware of the German trying the go around his outside at turn one. The locking of wheels sent the Force India into the barriers with the stewards later slapping the Le Mans 24 Hours winner with a three place grid penalty for the next race. Massa, although able to continue, was forced to retire on lap 30 with an overheating gearbox.
Proceedings then took a bizarre and potentially dangerous twist a few laps later when a spectator somehow managed to gain access to the track and started walking down the barriers at one of the fastest points of the track.
He eventually found gap in the fence and climb over the wall to safety, but not after the safety car had been deployed again. It was later reported that the 27-year old had been arrested and would be questioned by the FIA in an incident that reminded of similar events during the 2000 German and 2003 British Grand Prix.
Once the safety car had returned, Vettel was able to extend his lead over Ricciardo while Raikkonen had to settle for third after being stuck behind the Manor of F1 debutant, Alexander Rossi, at the restart.
The American, who replaces Roberto Mehri for the next five races, had been having radio problems and was unaware of the call for cars a lap down to pass the safety car and catch-up to the rear of the field.
Behind Rosberg in fourth, Massa’s Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas crossed the line in fifth ahead of the second Red Bull of Danill Kvyat, and Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Having stalled at the start and re-joining effectively one lap down, Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen benefited from the numerous safety cars and incidents to finish eighth despite vehemently denying a team order in the closing stages, for his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr, to overtake. The Spaniard had to settle for ninth with the final point going to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr in tenth.
Despite showing initial pace, the season-long difficulties continued for the reunited McLaren Honda team as both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso retired with overheating gearboxes.
The F1 circus now makes its way to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix this coming weekend.
SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX RESULTS
|2.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+1.478|
|6.||Danill Kvyat||Red Bull||+35.508|
|7.||Sergio Perez||Force India||+50.836|
|8.||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||+51.450|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||+52.860|
|13.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||+2 Laps|
|14.||Alexander Rossi||Manor||+2 Laps|
|15.||Will Stevens||Manor||+2 Laps|
|DNF||Jenson Button||McLaren||52 laps, gearbox|
|DNF||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||33 laps, geabox|
|DNF||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||32 laps, mechanical|
|DNF||Felipe Massa||Williams||30 laps, gearbox|
|DNF||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||12 laps, accident|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||73|
|8.||Danill Kvyat||Red Bull||66|
|9.||Sergio Perez||Force India||39|
|11.||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||30|
|12.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||30|
|16.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||11|
IMAGE sourced from telegraph.co.uk
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