Singapore Grand Prix: Vettel dominates the night as Hamilton retires

Sebastian Vettel led the Singapore Grand Prix from lights to finish in a display that was reminiscent of his form that saw him dominate the 2013 season. Whilst Vettel took his third victory of the season, championship leader Lewis Hamilton retired from the race which he feels he had a chance of winning. 

Vettel’s former Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo finished on the podium for Red Bull ahead of Vettel’s current team-mate at Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen. Nico Rosberg came home fourth for Mercedes.

Vettel looked untroubled over the course of the 61 laps and pulled a big lead from Ricciardo,  Ricciardo simply did not seem to have an answer for the pace of the Ferrari.

After a slow start to the race, Ricciardo seemed to slowly close the gap to Vettel, but the German had the situation under control and the result never looked in doubt. Vettel had a lead of three seconds after Lap 1. An early Virtual Safety Car brought the action to a halt for a collision between Felipe Massa who was exiting the pit lane after a stop and Nico Hulkenberg. The Force India man failed to see the Williams exiting the pits as the two collided.

The incident ended Hulkenberg’s race, but Massa lived to fight another day. Hulkenberg now goes into next week’s race at Suzuka with a three-place grid drop for the collision. Although Massa did continue, he did not see the chequered flag after a gear box issue forced the Williams driver to retire from the race. Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas eventually came home to finish fifth for Williams.

Whilst Ricciardo went home to finish in second place, the Australian felt as if the win was within his grasp, Ricciardo lost out on a chance of victory thanks to a bizarre moment that involved a spectator. In an act that could only be described as pure lunacy, a spectator found his way onto the circuit. CCTV footage shows the fan making his over the barrier and walking across the track as the leading two of Vettel and Ricciardo approached. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the man involved was arrested.

Much like Ricciardo, Hamilton also felt as if the win was in reach. Hamilton did not get the best of starts but managed to hold onto his starting position of fifth place. At the first round of pit stops, Hamilton opted to run the prime and slower tyre in a bid to be faster at the end of the race and switch to the faster super-soft tyres.

Ferrari and Red Bull opted to run the option compound meaning in the later stages Hamilton could come at them. For a moment it looked as if that Mercedes had hit the nail on the head in terms of strategy with Hamilton matching or lapping closer to the front running cars until his engine cried enough and was forced to retire. Both Hamilton and Rosberg passed Daniil Kvyat as the Russian pitted before the VSC was deployed for the Massa and Hulkenberg incident.

Hamilton was looking to match Ayrton Senna’s record of 41 wins in 106 starts.

The Toro Rosso boys continued with their impressive form this season with both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz once again finishing in the points. Verstappen fell to the back of the grid and after failing to get away at the start with Carlos Sainz running into gearbox problems when his car suddenly went into neutral. Verstappen finished ahead of Sainz despite the team telling the teenager to let Sainz past on the last lap.

McLaren who were expecting to be stronger this weekend failed to get either car to the finish. Both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were running in the points until they both ran into reliability problems. 

Despite failing to finish the race, Hamilton still has a forty-one point lead in the championship with just six races remain. Today really was a chance missed by Rosberg who could have made huge inroads into Hamilton’s lead. Vettel now lies just eight point behind Rosberg.

What did you make of Singapore? Leave your comments below.