Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel recorded yet another start-to-finish win at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday to further extend his lead in the Formula One championship.
The German was in a class of his own under the Marina Bay lights, winning by a massive 32.6 seconds over Fernando Alonso and boosting his championship lead on the Ferrari driver from 53 points to 60 with six races remaining.
Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen was third, ahead of the Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Starting in pole, Vettel lost the lead at the first corner to Rosberg but took it back as the Mercedes driver ran wide at turn two, and even a safety car period just before half distance, which eroded his 12-second lead, could not prevent another Vettel victory.
“The start was quite hairy, Nico had a good start, but fortunately he went a little too deep and I was able to get him back,” Vettel said.
“With the safety car, it was difficult but we came back …. we had very, very good pace.”
Red Bull teammate Mark Webber had sharply different fortunes in the race.
As the Australian was threatening Raikkonen in the closing stages, he suffered an engine failure that saw him pull off the track with his car in flames on the closing lap.
Webber hitched a ride back to the pits on the sideboard of Alonso’s Ferrari, with the Spaniard feeling in a generous mood after an impressive showing.
Alonso got a superb start, going around the outside of several drivers to vault from seventh to third after two corners, and later capitalised by pitting under safety car conditions to complete the entire second half of the race on the same set of the harder tires.
“We knew we didn’t have the pace today, we had to invent something,” Alonso said.
“I had a good start, and a different strategy … it tastes like a victory to us.”
Raikkonen’s participation in the race had been in doubt due to a back injury that affected him badly in Saturday’s qualifying, but the Finn sliced his way through the field in the latter half of the race to move up from 10th to a podium.
“Luckily not too much (pain during the race) but now, afterwards, it’s not 100 percent but I have time to rest and get it right,” Raikkonen said.
“Third place – we could not have expected any more today.”
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was sixth, ahead of the McLaren pair Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Adrian Sutil completing the top ten.
Vettel’s victory was his third in a row in Singapore, his seventh of the season, and 33rd of his career, moving him out of a tie with Alonso and into outright fourth place on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.