Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton extends his points lead in the 2018 Formula 1 season after winning the Singapore GP from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
It was a clean start with Hamilton leading from a fighting Verstappen and Vettel as the German got past the Dutchman by the end of the lap to slot into second when the safety car was deployed for an incident in the midfield.
The two Racing Point Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon came together on the entry of Turn 2 with the Mexican on the inside touching wheels with the Frenchman on the outside sending him straight onto the wall.
Ocon retired immediately as Perez apologised on the radio but kept seventh position from Haas’ Romain Grosjean while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso made up two places to be ninth from Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg.
It was a clean re-start as well with Hamilton leading Vettel and Verstappen followed by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in a straight order as qualifying.
Ferrari pulled the plug first on Lap 15 to pit Vettel but opted to go on the ultrasoft tyres as he came out behind Perez’s car. Mercedes pitted Hamilton on the very next lap but went for the soft tyres as he came out ahead of Perez.
The chance was gone for Vettel and he soon came under pressure from Verstappen who pitted on Lap 17. The Dutchman came out of the pits side-by-side to Vettel but the German had to give away the position which further damaged his chances.
It stayed like that for majority of the race but all three came very close to each other when lapping the slower cars. In fact, Verstappen had a look at Hamilton when he was passing the cars of Grosjean and Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin.
The Frenchman was handed a five-second time penalty for ignoring the blue flags. Once cleared, Hamilton was able to pull away from Verstappen and also Vettel with the fight for fourth getting tasty between Bottas, Raikkonen and Ricciardo.
While the Top 6 were settled pretty much, the battle at the back of the field got dramatic especially between Perez and Sirotkin. The Mexican pitted early for the ultrasoft tyres and came out behind Sirotkin who had to pit under the safety car for the soft compound.
Perez tried hard to get by the Russian for handful of laps but couldn’t penetrate through the defences of the Williams driver. He started to get frustrated on the radio which eventually ended up in a collision between the two.
The Force India driver tried a move on the outside in the left-hander and passed the Russian at one stage. But he came back quickly to stay wheel-to-wheel in another left-hander when Perez turned to his left as they collided.
The incident was put under investigation as Perez was handed a drive-through penalty. At the same time, battles continued on outside the points with Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen also involved.
While all this was happening, Hamilton eased into a comfortable lead to win the Singapore GP for the second time in a row and crucially extend his points lead over Vettel to 40 points with the German only third behind Verstappen.
It was close in the fight for fourth but Bottas hung on from Raikkonen with Ricciardo finishing sixth as Alonso made the most of the opportunity to end up as the best of the rest in seventh in a clean race for the Spaniard.
Eighth went to Sainz after he managed to clear a late-stopper Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson as the Swede’s teammate Charles Leclerc worked his race well from 13th to finish ninth while Hulkenberg clawed back into the points to be 10th.
The strategy from Ericsson almost worked but he couldn’t get the hypersoft tyres switched on as he finished 11th fending off McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who also stopped very late in the race.
The two were chased by Grosjean who finished only 0.003s behind Vandoorne in the end. Toro Rosso had a difficult race with Pierre Gasly only 14th after he lost out to Leclerc in a good battle early on in the race.
Williams’ Lance Stroll was 15th from a recovering Perez who had to undertake three stops with Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley in 17th ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Sirotkin. The Dane went for a late stop to set a lap record on the fresher compound.