Vettel No. 1 in Singapore
Sebastian Vettel (Getty Images)
Singapore - Sebastian Vettel has taken a huge step towards his fourth straight world
title Sunday with a superlative victory in Singapore that left his
rivals fighting for scraps but again prompted boos from the crowd.
German, starting from pole, fought off Nico Rosberg on the first bend
and despite a safety car intervention, he was untouchable as he took his
third win in a row and a hat-trick of wins in Singapore.
Fernando Alonso finished second to keep up the title pressure on
Vettel, who now leads the championship by 60 points from the Spaniard
with six races remaining.
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen braved back
pain to finish third but there was disaster for Red Bull's Mark Webber,
whose late charge ended in a blown engine and a ride back to the pits on
the wing of Alonso's Ferrari.
Mercedes pair Rosberg and Lewis
Hamilton claimed fourth and fifth, Ferrari's Felipe Massa was sixth and
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez occupied seventh and
But yet again the race belonged to Vettel, who was
literally streets ahead of his rivals on the spot-lit Marina Bay circuit
through the highways of downtown Singapore.
sections of the crowd were not impressed and Vettel, already heckled in
Belgium and Italy, faced an eruption of boos and whistles after he
mounted the winner's podium.
"They're on a tour. They go round with a bus," he shrugged.
world champion added: "The start was quite hairy. Nico had a better
start and I didn't get going. But unfortunately he went a little too
deep and I could get it back.
"With the safety car it was
difficult but as soon as the safety car came off we had very strong pace
with the car. It was just a pleasure to drive around this crazy race."
peerless 26-year-old has now won four of the past five grands prix and
is a racing certainty to become the sport's youngest four-time world
champion, joining Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as only the
third man to win four in a row.
From the start, Rosberg arrowed
past pole-sitter Vettel going into the first turn but his speed carried
him wide at the second corner and the Red Bull man was able to nip back
Behind them, Alonso pulled off a masterful move as he
used the outside of the track to leap from seventh on the grid to third
in the opening seconds.
But as the cars started to string out, it
was all about Vettel as he hared off in front in his customary fashion,
establishing a seven-second lead by lap seven.
As the cars behind
him garaged for medium tyres, Vettel strung out his lead to 36 seconds
and he was able to pit on lap 17 and still maintain an eight-second lead
Force India's Paul Di Resta nipped in behind
Rosberg for third place during the pits shake-up, frustrating Alonso,
who was unable to pass and challenge for second.
By lap 25 of the
61, Vettel was nearly 11 seconds ahead when Daniel Ricciardo, heading to
Red Bull next year, ploughed into the barriers at turn 18 and totalled
his Toro Rosso.
The safety car roared out, erasing Vettel's lead
but when it disappeared five laps later, it was deja vu as the German
shot out to a 3.2-second lead on the first trip round the circuit.
And Vettel showed sheer class again as he scorched to the race's fastest lap and then powered out to a 12-second lead by lap 35.
more fastest laps and the incredible Vettel had stretched his lead to
more than 20 seconds by circuit number 39, before coming in for his
second and final tyre-change a few laps later.
comfortably ahead of Alonso and with 10 laps to go, the lead was pushed
to more than 10 seconds as Vettel zeroed in on his seventh win of the
The real battles were in his rear-view mirror, as Webber
squeezed up inside Nico Hulkenberg to take sixth and Raikkonen pulled
off a peach of a move outside Button for third.
Di Resta ploughed
his Force India into a wall but crucially, there was no safety car and
Webber slipped past Perez and then Button to move into fourth.
was building into a titanic finish until smoke started pouring from
Webber's engine and he eventually had to abandon his Red Bull and hitch a
ride with Alonso - a stunt that earned both drivers a formal
Vettel was already celebrating - more than some of the
spectators - as he heads towards another world title and a place among
the sport's greatest names.
Results from the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday:
1. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault), 61 laps (309.3 kilometres) in 1hr 59min 13.132sec (average speed: 155.671 km/h)
2. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari) at 32.627
3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus-Renault) at 43.920
4. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) at 51.155
5. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) at 53.159
6. Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari) at 1:03.877
7. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) at 1:23.354
8. Sergio Perez (MEX/McLaren-Mercedes) at 1:23.820
9. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Sauber-Ferrari) at 1:24.261
10. Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes) at 1:24.668
11. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault) at 1:28.479
12. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari) at 1:37.894
13. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Renault) at 1:45.161
14. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) at 1:53.512
15. Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault) at 1 lap
16. Giedo van der Garde (NED/Caterham-Renault) at 1 lap
17. Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia-Cosworth) at 1 lap
18. Jules Bianchi (FRA/Marussia-Cosworth) at 1 lap
19. Charles Pic (FRA/Caterham-Renault) at 1 lap
20. Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes) at 7 laps
Reasons for retirements:
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari): accident, 25th lap
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault): mechanical problem, 38th lap
Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes): accident, 55th lap (classified)
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault): gearbox, 61st lap (classified)
1. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 247 pts 2. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 187; 3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 151; 4. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 149; 5. Mark Webber (AUS) 130; 6. Nico Rosberg (GER) 116; 7. Felipe Massa (BRA) 87; 8. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 57; 9. Jenson Button (GBR) 54; 10. Paul di Resta (GBR) 36; 11. Adrian Sutil (GER) 26; 12. Sergio Perez (MEX) 22; 13. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) 19; 14. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 18; 15. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) 13; 16. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) 1
1. Red Bull Racing 377 pts; 2. Scuderia Ferrari 274; 3. Mercedes-AMG 267; 4. Lotus 206; 5. McLaren Mercedes 76; 6. Force India 62; 7. Scuderia Toro Rosso 31; 8. Sauber 19; 9. Williams 1