Lewis Hamilton extended his drivers’ championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 40 points with a straightforward victory in Singapore
• Read Giles’s Richards’ race report
A cracking weekend for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, then. Forty points to the good. What now? Read Giles Richards’s race report:
Related: Lewis Hamilton wins Singapore Grand Prix to extend lead in F1 title race
Once again, Lewis Hamilton stands proud on the top step of the podium, flanked by Verstappen and Vettel. An emotional-looking Hamilton is sweating buckets as the relevant national anthems ring around Singapore. He holds aloft the winner’s trophy before getting the party started. A sombre Vettle guzzles a bit champers, but he’s – understandably – reluctant to join the celebrations.
How did they finish in Singapore?
Lewis Hamilton speaks after recording his 69th career victory. “I’m spent – that was a tough race,” he says. “The team have never given up faith in me, Valtteri and our ability.” Max Verstappen, who finished second, adds: “There were a lot of problems, but I am still very happy.” A glum looking Vettel says: “Overall, we were not fast enough. We did not have the pace in the race. We tried to be aggressive in the beginning and, in the end, it did not work out. We had to just focus on making it home.” Of the 40-point gap to Hamilton, the Ferrari driver adds: “We can only beat ourselves. We didn’t get everything out of our package.”
The Mercedes racks up his fourth win at the Marina Bay circuit, with Hamilton extending his lead in the drivers’ championship to 40 points! Verstappen takes second, with Vettel forced to settle for third. Ferrari simply could not get near Hamilton, who cruised round the track, untroubled, really. The Brit waves to the crowd and cue the celebratory fireworks. “Great job everyone – what a weekend,” Hamilton says. “Keep pushing. Keep pushing.”
Lap 61/61: Hamilton’s got this in the bag …
Lap 60/61: Hamilton’s almost 8.6secs in front of second-placed Max Verstappen. The battle fourth remains the most intriguing, with Räikkönen and Ricciardo intent on finishing strongly in Singapore.
Lap 59/61: Three laps to go! And now Bottas, in fourth, must find a way to get past Sirotkin, the back marker.
Lap 58/61: Things are looking very good, verging on rosy for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. He’s 7secs in front of Verstappen, with Vettel way off. Hamilton’s closing on back-to-back wins in Singapore.
Lap 56/61: Hülkenberg is holding up Bottas, who just cannot past him. That’s a helping hand for Räikkönen and Ricciardo who are not done yet. As for his Ferrari team-mate, Sebastian Vettel has just been parked behind Hamilton almost ever since he pitted after lap 15.
Lap 55/61: It’s surely a straight battle between Hamilton and Verstappen for the top prize. The latter has nothing to lose and, given the way the Red Bull races, will his fearlessness help him give Hamilton a fright in the closing stages? There’s work to do, with the Mercedes now almost six seconds to the good.
Lap 53/61: Räikkönen v Ricciardo is proving a real feast in the fight for fifth. Both have eyes for Bottas, too. Barely two seconds separates the three. “I just can’t get any closer,” Bottas bemoans.
Lap 52/61: Kevin Magnussen, of all people, has just recorded the new fastest lap after bagging a set of new swanky tyres. Down in 18th, he will be grooving around Marina Bay for the next nine laps.
Lap 50/61: The drivers are coping with a cockpit of temperature of around 50 sweltering degrees, but a couple just seem to be feeling the heat. Bottas has a task on his hands to swat away Räikkönen and Ricciardo. Meanwhile, Verstappen is gaining on the race leader, with Hamilton having just lapped Sirotkin.
Lap 49/61: Can Verstappen reach Hamilton? Räikkönen is closing nicely on Bottas in the race for fourth. That’s a contest to keep an eye on as we reach the final stages in Singapore. Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo has just set a lightning lap of 1.43.335, a new fastest.
Lap 48/61: Verstappen has just racked up his best lap, shaving the gap to Hamilton to almost 3.2secs. In turn, the gap to Vettel has opened, to seven seconds. As it stands, Hamilton would extend his lead over Vettel in the drivers’ championship to 40 points.
Lap 45/61: Marcus Ericsson, in ninth, has still not pitted. He will surely have a lively final few laps. In seventh, Fernando Alonso, the 2008 winner at this circuit, is enjoying himself, setting a new fastest lap. Hamilton leads Verstappen, by 3.7secs.
Lap 44/61: Drat, Romain Grosjean is handed a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags. That tango between the Haas and Sirotkin momentarily stifled the top three: Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel.
Lap 43/61: Ocon’s been speaking about that first-lap incident, and sounds pretty unimpressed with Pérez. It did end his race, after all. At the front, Hamilton leads Verstappen by 3.6secs, with the Dutchman still comfortably ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who’s third.
Lap 39/61: The key man in this race? Sergey Sirotkin, believe it or not. Pérez, meanwhile, will be penalised for that incident with the Russian. He has a drive-through penalty waiting for him. “These guys are being crazy,” Hamilton says of those pesky back markers.
Lap 38/61: The back markers cause havoc for Hamilton! Sirotkin shuts the door as Grosjean locks up wide, but as that unfolds, Hamilton has to resist the temptation to lap the pair. Verstappen, meanwhile, is happy to watch it all unfold. The Red Bull is really closing on the Mercedes, who has lost a little momentum.
Lap 37/61: Down the team radio, Hamilton sounds the alarm, concerned that his tyres are losing a bit of fizz. He thinks they’re too cold. Mercedes seem calm about the matter, though. Hamilton leads Verstappen by 2.475secs.
Lap 36/61: Things are spicing up at the back of the field too, with Hartley taking 17th from Magnussen off the track. They wrestle, but it’s all good natured. Meanwhile, confirmation that the stewards are taking a good look at that clash between Pérez and Sirotkin.
Lap 34/61: It gets worse for Force India! Pérez’s race looks run. Just as the Mexican looks to have finally got the better of Sirotkin, he clashes with the Williams. The beneficiary of that incident is Hülkenberg, who flies down Raffles Boulevard having zoomed into 13th. Pérez has a puncture, floor damage and enters the pits. He’s had a torrid
night at the office.
Lap 33/61: Just over the halfway stage, here’s how we are looking: Hamilton leads Verstappen by just north of five seconds, with Vettel pondering in third. Ferrari will do well to get close to Hamilton now. Bottas is fourth, with his Finnish compatriot, Räikkönen, fifth.
Lap 31/61: Force India have had a pretty miserable race. Ocon crashed out on the first lap, after a shunt from his team-mate, Sergio Pérez. And now the Mexican driver, down in 14th, is having a moan at the traffic. “This is a joke, really,” Pérez says, fuming at the stubborn Sergey Sirotkin in front of him.
Lap 30/61: Carlos Sainz has had a decent race under the radar so far. He’s up four places to eighth, with Leclerc behind him still yet to pit. Sainz has Alonso, four seconds to the good, firmly in his sights.
Lap 28/61: Hamilton’s back on top, then. And that exchange between him and his race engineer, Peter Bonnington, a moment ago suddenly feels a long time ago. “I feel like we’ve have we stopped too early,” worried Hamilton. “No, we’re looking good compared to those around us,” came the reply from the paddock.
Lap 27/61: Lewis Hamilton regains the lead! Ricciardo, the race leader since that reshuffle kickstarted by Ferrari and Vettel, eventually pits. The Red Bull’s in and out inside 2.3secs, and flies out of the pits on hypersofts in sixth, ahead of Fernando Alonso.
Lap 26/61: Leclerc leapfrogs Gasly, who is really struggling for front-tyre grip. Great driving by Leclerc, the Sauber who bypassed him down the iconic stretch of Anderson Bridge.
Lap 25/61: It’s drizzling in Singapore. Race engineers across the paddock are looking nervously at the sky.
Lap 24/61: Pérez is in trouble down in 16th, agitated at the traffic in front of him, namely Sirotkin. Further up the grid, Gasly is enjoying another decent start, up to ninth, with Leclerc for company, half a second behind him. The Toro Rosso started 15th on the grid.
Lap 23/61: Räikkönen pits, switching on to the yellow-striped soft tyres. It was not a slick stop, and things are not exactly going to plan for Ferrari. Hamilton, for now, is sitting pretty in second, behind Ricciardo, who leads but only by the virtue that he is yet to pit.
Lap 22/61: Hamilton is gaining ground on the front two, with the Mercedes closing the gap to 12 seconds. Will Ferrari keep Räikkönen – yet to pit – out on track to frustrate Hamilton? That may help Verstappen too. In 15th, Pérez is struggling to bypass Sirotkin.
Lap 21/61: Red Bull tell Verstappen that Vettel believes his tyres will not last. “You know what to do,” is the message. Verstappen will be oozing with confidence after outsmarting Vettel from the pits.
Lap 20/61: Ferrari, who thought they had outwitted the Mercedes, appear to have been flummoxed. “These tyres will not make it to the end,” panics Vettel down the team radio. “We had a chance but were too late.” At the back of the grid, meanwhile, is Brendon Hartley.
Lap 19/61: Räikkönen is the race leader – for now. Ricciardo is 3secs behind him in second. Neither, though, have pitted. Lewis Hamilton, who has, is in third ahead of Verstappen and then Vettel.
Lap 17/61: Verstappen is told to box over the team radio, and in comes the Red Bull. He’s in and out in no time, with soft tyres going on. He rushes out of the pits to nip in front of Sebastian Vettel out of turn five. They go neck-and-neck for a moment but he’s done it. “Yes,” yells Verstappen down the team radio, before his race engineer urges him to focus.
Lap 16/61: Verstappen is the new race leader, with Räikkönen second after Bottas also pits. Hamilton on to the soft tyre, then. The rest of the front 10 are mainly on the hypersofts, apart from Vettel who has switched to ultrasoft tyres. Grosjean has also pitted.
Lap 15/61: Ferrari blink first, as Vettel pits! He stops for a precious 2.7secs. On go the fresh ultrasofts. And, right on cue, Hamilton responds with a slightly slower pit but makes his way out of the paddock into fifth, just ahead of Vettel, with Pérez sandwiched between them.
Lap 14/61: Lewis Hamilton, who leads Sebastian Vettel by 2.3secs, has just set a new fastest lap of 1min 44.929secs. The Mercedes is whizzing around, while there are a few splodges of rain on track.
Lap 12/61: “There’s a lot left in the tyres,” Hamilton insists, before Vettel, over the team radio, seems to have misunderstood the message from the Mercedes. He thinks Hamilton has rubbished his tyres, leading Vettel to shake his head in disbelief. “I don’t believe him,” he mutters. In fourth, the Finns are fighting it out, but they’re not doing a lot to help out their team-mates out in front.
Lap 10/61: The hypersofts are showing a few signs of tiredness, with Alonso closing on Grosjean. Towards the front, Ricciardo is a little detached from Räikkönen in fifth, 2.5secs off the pace.
Lap 9/61: There is not an awful lot between the front three of Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen. In fact, there is only 27-odd seconds between first and 18th. The pits will prove pivotal at Marina Bay. “The car’s really good,” Verstappen, the Red Bull driver, says.
Lap 7/61: Vettel sets the tone early on, with a fastest lap of 1min 47.397sec. Meanwhile, a nugget of news on that damage to Sirotkin, whose Williams ended up with a bit of Ocon’s car in its front wing. Elsewhere, Pierre Gasly has made a decent start, up three to 12th.
Lap 6/61: A nimble Verstappen, with the help of DRS, is trying to eat away at the gap to Vettel. That’s piling the pressure on the Ferrari, who is firmly on the tail of Hamilton, the race leader.
5/61: We’re back racing! After crawling through the final throws of the safety car, Hamilton bolted away from Vettel, acutely aware the Ferrari could do with a bit of time to warm-up his tyres to find some pace. He leads Vettel by just over one second, with Verstappen, the Red Bull, a healthy 2sec behind the German.
Lap 4/61: A good start by Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso who have leapfrogged Nico Hülkenberg into ninth and 10th respectively. Further back the grid, Sergey Sirotkin seems to have a bit of damage to his front wing. Meanwhile, Ocon’s car has been scooped off the track and the driver is heading for the paddock. “I got hit by Sergio – badly,” he says. For now, the safety car continues to lead the way.
Lap 3/61: Clearly, that incident between Pérez and Ocon was a result of the former not giving his Force India colleague racing room. Pérez is very apologetic, Ocon, whose race is over and car’s front wheel dangling by a thread, does not sound quite so unforgiving, though.
Lap 2/61: Of that incident at turn three, Sergio Pérez says: “Sorry guys, there was no room. Basically, I did not even see him.” The stewards are investigating that clash between the two Force Indias. Already then, we have a safety car, after a very clean start by Vettel – who went toe-to-toe with Verstappen down Raffles Boulevard – and Hamilton out in front.
Hamilton zooms off the front of the grid, but behind him there’s a bit of drama, with Esteban Ocon heading off into the wall, via his Force India team-mate Sergio Pérez. Vettel and Verstappen go wheel-to-wheel down the chicane and we have a safety car owing to that Ocon first-lap incident and the resulting debris on track.
We are just a formation lap away from the off. The top 10 drivers are all starting on the hypersoft tyres. Under the lights of the Marina Bay circuit, the stage is very much set in Singapore …
The grid is teeming with drivers, engineers and team entourages. We’ve had the national anthem, Majulah Singapura and the 11th Singapore GP is almost upon us; sixty-one gruelling laps, a track temperature of 34 degrees and humidity approaching 70%. Lovely!
A few words from Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, before the off. “Max [Verstappen] has nothing to lose, this is probably his best chance to win a race this year,” he says. Kevin Magnussen, the Haas driver, meanwhile adds: “It’s a little bit slippery, I’m not sure why. It’s definitely the toughest race of the year. It will be a long race.” Max Verstappen says: “I’m confident, I’ll see what I can do.”
It’s 29 degrees out in Singapore, so plenty of the drivers – from Räikkönen to Ricciardo – have been sinking into ice baths over the past couple of days. One of the biggest challenges around the circuit will be that heat and humidity, almost 70%, though Hamilton made pretty light work of one of the toughest tracks to navigate.
The pre-cursor to the main event in Singapore was, of course, Liam Gallagher taking centre stage before qualifying. The Oasis singer dedicated Some Might Say to none other than Lewis Hamilton, with the Mercedes driver proceeding to record a memorable pole. Post-pole, The Killers performed, while Jimmy Carr has been parading around the Mercedes paddock today. All fun and games.
Alain Prost, the four-times F1 champion, is back at the heart of the sport as a special adviser to Renault. As he tells Giles Richards, being an outsider battling against the odds is a key motivating factor:
Related: Alain Prost: ‘Getting Renault back on top is so difficult I find it interesting’
1 Hamilton 2 Verstappen
3 Vettel 4 Bottas
5 Räikkönen 6 Ricciardo
7 Pérez 8 Grosjean
9 Ocon 10 Hülkenberg
11 Alonso 12 Sainz
13 Leclerc 14 Ericsson
15 Gasly 16 Magnussen
17 Hartley 18 Vandoorne
19 Sirotkin 20 Stroll
Lewis Hamilton turned on the style early on in qualifying, smashing the track record with a magical first lap around the spectacular Marina Bay circuit, meaning the rest of Saturday’s action made pretty comfortable viewing as he put his feet up. It could prove a lap and a pole that just gives Hamilton the chance to accelerate from Sebastian Vettel, the Ferrari who trails him by 30 points in the drivers’ standings and could only manage third. The Red Bull of Max Verstappen, meanwhile, managed to join the Brit on the front of the grid. Hamilton’s lap left Vettel reeling, Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal lost for words and his longtime race engineer, Peter Bonnington, absolutely ecstatic. “That was pretty epic,” he beamed after watching Hamilton whizz around in 1min 36.015sec. As for Hamilton, he said: “That lap started perfect and it just kept going. It felt like one of the best – if not the best lap I’ve ever done. It is the most challenging circuit for us – it is Monaco on steroids.”
Lights out: 1.10pm (BST)
Source: Formula 1