For two races in a row now, Lewis Hamilton has won Grands Prix that he arguably shouldn’t have. After stealing the Italian Grand Prix from under Ferrari’s noses, Hamilton produced another dominant display in Singapore, seeing off the challenge of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to increase his lead in the title race over arch rival Sebastian Vettel, who could only finish third.
Beneath the track’s 1,771 lights, Hamilton used his “magic” pole position from Saturday to great effect, leading off the line as behind him, the Force Indias came together, with Esteban Ocon finding himself out after just three corners.
After Singapore maintained its 100% Safety Car record, Hamilton nailed the restart as Vettel settled into P2, having smartly managed to nip past Max Verstappen just before the Safety Car was deployed. That was about as good as Vettel’s afternoon got though. With Ferrari calling him in for fresh rubber on lap 14, he was unable to make the undercut on Hamilton work, ending up behind Verstappen after the first round of pit stops. That definitely hadn’t been part of the script heading into the weekend…
From then on, Vettel was in damage limitation mode, as he was forced to watch on as his 2018 championship hopes took a further hit. As the chequered flag fell on Hamilton’s 69th career win, the British driver earned himself 25 points to Vettel’s 15, the gap between them in the drivers’ standings now up to a full 40 points.
Having suffered with a misfiring engine throughout the weekend, however, and after complaining of false neutrals in his gearbox at the start of the race, Verstappen was delighted to convert his second place in qualifying into the same position in the race – even if Red Bull had viewed Singapore as their last big chance of securing a win in 2018.
Behind the podium finishers, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas just managed to hold off his fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen for fourth place as Daniel Ricciardo, who’d come away from qualifying puzzled at his lack of pace, could only manage sixth.
Further down the order, it was a great day for McLaren, as Fernando Alonso used his free choice of tyres resulting from qualifying 11th to end up seventh and ‘best of the rest’ in the race, ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz, while Charles Leclerc put in yet another impressive 2018 race performance, the newly-minted Ferrari driver ending up P9.
The second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten, but ultimately, once again they day belonged to Mercedes and Hamilton who once again triumphed on a track that was not expected to suit the W09. BY F1