Vettel dominates for Singapore victory

By on Sunday, September 20, 2015
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel dominated proceedings at the Singapore Grand Prix to claim his and Ferrari’s third victory of the season.

Vettel led every lap from pole position and kept Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo at bay to win the event for a fourth time and move ahead of Ayrton Senna in the all-time standings with 42 Formula 1 victories.

Ricciardo collected second place to equal Red Bull’s best result of 2015 while Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium in third position.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire following a loss of power in his Mercedes W06 Hybrid while running in fourth position.

Vettel streaked away from Ricciardo on the opening lap to lead by over three seconds as the top seven drivers maintained their grid positions, while Max Verstappen stalled and re-joined the action a lap down.

Vettel upped his gap to five seconds but towards the end of the first stint Ricciardo brought the gap down slightly, until the Virtual Safety Car was deployed when Felipe Massa collided with Nico Hulkenberg.

Massa was exiting the pit lane following a tardy stop and emerged narrowly behind Hulkenberg, who had also suffered a slow than usual stop a lap beforehand.

Massa hit Hulkenberg as the pair approached Turn 3, his right front interlocking with the Force India’s left rear, pitching the German into the wall on the outside of the corner. The stewards investigated the incident and handed Hulkenberg a three place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The leaders all came into the pits to change tyres, Ferrari and Red Bull stayed on Options but both Mercedes switched to Primes and jumped Daniil Kvyat, who made his stop prior to the Virtual Safety Car and missed out as a result.

After a couple of laps the Safety Car was deployed due to the debris at Turn 3, wiping out Vettel’s lead and allowing Verstappen to un-lap himself.

Vettel led away at the restart with Ricciardo and Raikkonen in close contention, as Hamilton pair kept a watchful eye a couple of seconds further back on the Prime tyres.

Hamilton retained his position until he began losing several seconds a lap due to a loss of power, dropping down the order as he was unable to defend.

As the Briton saw his lap time and positions drift away, Vettel put the hammer down and pulled a gap of over three seconds, having previously been just a few car lengths ahead of Ricciardo, who also surged clear of Raikkonen.

Hamilton soldiered on for a few laps but having dropped to the back of the pack he called it a day, retiring for the first time in 2015.

The Safety Car was called again on lap 38 when a spectator climbed onto the circuit and walked along the circuit on the Esplanade Driver, prompting the leaders to make their second stops.

Vettel duly led at the restart from Ricciardo, while Raikkonen was delayed by the lapped Manor Marussia of Alexander Rossi.

The gap between Vettel and Ricciardo stabilised at the three second barrier and the Ferrari driver edged away during the closing laps to ease to victory, moving him to within 49 points of Hamilton in the championship.

Raikkonen was a lonely third while Nico Rosberg collected fourth on a difficult weekend for Mercedes.

Valtteri Bottas jumped Kvyat during the second pit stop phase to take fifth position, while Sergio Perez beat Toro Rosso pair Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. to seventh.

The rookies charged through the pack after problems, Verstappen after stalling and Sainz Jr. following an engine glitch, while Verstappen ignored a team order towards the end to allow the Spaniard through.

Felipe Nasr inherited the final point when Romain Grosjean went wide on the penultimate lap and retired shortly afterwards, promiting Marcus Ericsson into 11th place.

Pastor Maldonado was 12th, Grosjean classified in 13th and Rossi and Will Stevens rounded out the finishers.

Massa was forced to retire when his Williams entered neutral and developed a further problem, while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso held a position inside the top 10 until a gearbox issue halted him mid-race.

Jenson Button was also on course for points until a collision with Maldonado was followed by another McLaren gearbox problem, forcing him into retirement.

Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 41 points in the championship, with Vettel only eight behind his compatriot.

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