Hamilton wins Singapore GP with controlled drive
Lewis Hamilton has won the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix with a convincing drive that saw the Mercedes driver extend his lead in the world championship.
Controlling the pace in the opening stages, Hamilton then set a series of blistering laps around the pit stop sequence to remain in the lead to then head the field to the flag.
Second place went to Max Verstappen, who used strategy to pass Sebastian Vettel before mounting a brief challenge on Hamilton.
He was ultimately forced to settle for second, while a strategy gamble from Ferrari netted Vettel just third.
It was status quo off the line, Hamilton leading from Verstappen and Vettel into the opening sequence of turns, the Ferrari driver quickly deposing of the Red Bull with a move under power as the field headed up Raffles Boulevard.
In the pack, Esteban Ocon made contact with his Racing Point Force India team-mate Sergio Perez, bouncing the Frenchman into the wall and tearing the right front wheel off his car on the wall at Turn 3.
It triggered an opening lap Safety Car, which was deployed moments after Vettel had completed his move on Verstappen to take second.
Hamilton skipped to a comfortable lead at the restart, opening more than a second advantage to move himself clear of the DRS zone.
The field remained comparatively compact as the leaders protected their fragile hypersoft tyres, which Pirelli predicted would last only until Lap 15.
It saw the race settle into a predictable and processional rhythm as drivers preserved their cars, lapping more than 10 seconds off the time Hamilton set to claim pole.
Lap times began to drop as the opening round of stops approached, Hamilton stretching his legs to build a gap to both protect himself from the undercut and pull clear of the midfield which had remained tenuously in touch courtesy of the slow opening laps.
Vettel was the first to stop after 14 laps as Ferrari tried to force Mercedes hand and gain the strategic advantage.
It immediately triggered a reaction from Hamilton who took all of the performance his Mercedes would offer before the four-time world champion boxed at the end of the next tour.
The gamble failed to reap returns, with Vettel caught behind Perez while Hamilton emerged ahead of the Ferrari with a tyre that would see the Englishman make the flag.
Vettel, by contrast fitted a set of ultrasoft tyres, which provided more grip but were marginal as to whether they’d reach the end of the race.
Verstappen was in the lane after 17 laps, his 2.5 second stop leaving him furnished with a set of soft compound tyres and rejoin wheel to wheel with Vettel.
The Red Bull driver won that tussle courtesy of holding the inside line for Turn 3, a disastrous outcome for Vettel who found himself relegated and in need of an additional stop over both Hamilton and Verstappen ahead.
Ricciardo finally stopped from the race lead on lap 27, swapping his hypersoft tyres for a set of ultrasoft tyres for the run to the flag.
The Australian had nursed his tyres in the opening stretch, and saw him rejoin sixth behind Kimi Raikkonen.
A frustrated Perez made contact with Sergey Sirotkin as they battled over 13th, the pair running side by side until the Force India jinked into the side of the Williams.
It saw him pick up a puncture and damage to his floor as he dragged the car back to the pits, while on track Nico Hulkenberg took just half a lap to complete the job Perez had been unable to.
Perez’s move caught the ire of the stewards, who handed the Mexican a drive-through penalty for his clash with Sirotkin.
Following the battle with Perez, Sirotkin became a cork in the bottle, which caught out Hamilton as he came up to lap the Williams driver who was busy defending against Romain Grosjean in the Haas.
The delay saw Verstappen close up to the rear wing of the race leader, after the Dutchman had been homing in on the back of Hamilton in the preceding laps.
It would be as close as Verstappen would get, Hamilton opening the lead back out once he was through traffic to hold a comfortable advantage to the chequered flag.
Verstappen trailed him to the flag in a lonely second place from Vettel, and Valtteri Bottas, who was under pressure from Raikkonen in the closing stages, took fourth.
Ricciardo closed on Raikkonen with 15 laps to go, the Australian unable to find a way passed the Ferrari to end the race sixth.
Fernando Alonso claimed seventh ahead of Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, and Hulkenberg.
Hamilton now sits 40 points clear from Vettel in the drivers’ championship on a weekend that on paper looked set to favour the Italian team over the might of Mercedes.
Result: Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Renault||+8.961|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||+53.982|
|7||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Renault||+1:43.011|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Renault||+1 lap|
|9||Charles Leclerc||Sauber Ferrari||+1 lap|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1 lap|
|11||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||+1 lap|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Renault||+1 lap|
|13||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso Honda||+1 lap|
|14||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||+1 lap|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||+1 lap|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||+1 lap|
|17||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso Honda||+1 lap|
|18||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||+2 laps|
|19||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Mercedes||+2 laps|
|DNF||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes|