Lewis Hamilton extended his world championship lead to 40 points with victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.
Starting from pole, the Brit held off the challenge of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished second, while Sebastian Vettel was third as Ferrari again made hard work of strategy.
But Hamilton again proved himself a convincing championship leader. After a wonderful qualifying lap on Saturday – a blitz seventh pole of the season – he got away cleanly at the start and made no mistake over 61 laps, during which he was mostly out in front.
Vettel, who started third, passed Verstappen well on the straight on lap one, but his team brought him in to be reshod at an unhelpful time and probably too soon. The stop left him stranded behind Sergio Perez’s Force India. So when Hamilton emerged from his stop the following lap he was in front of the German (and Perez).
That was pretty much that in terms of the top-two rivalry. The only major threat Hamilton faced came from Verstappen, who got close to Hamilton as the pair of them became ensnared among backmarkers halfway through the race.
SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX RESULTS AND STANDINGS
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1hr 51mins 11.611secs
2 Max Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:51:20.572
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:51:51.556
4 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:52:03.541
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:52:04.612
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:52:05.593
7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:52:54.622
8 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault at 1 Lap
9 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber at 1 Lap
10 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault at 1 Lap
11 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber at 1 Lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren at 1 Lap
13 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas at 1 Lap
14 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso at 1 Lap
15 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams at 1 Lap
16 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India at 1 Lap
17 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Toro Rosso at 1 Lap
18 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas at 2 Laps
19 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams at 2 Laps
Not Classified: 20 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 0 Laps completed
Fastest Lap: Kevin Magnussen 1min 41.905secs on lap 51
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 281pts
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 241
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 174
4 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 171
5 Max Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 148
6 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 126
7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 53
8 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 50
9 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas 49
10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 46
11 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 45
12 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 38
13 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso 28
14 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas 27
15 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber 15
16 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 8
17 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 6
18 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber 6
19 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Toro Rosso 2
20 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams 1
Constructors’ standings: 1 Mercedes 452pts, 2 Ferrari 415, 3 Red Bull 274, 4 Renault 91, 5 Haas 76, 6 McLaren 58, 7 Force India 32, 8 Toro Rosso 30, 9 Sauber 21, 10 Williams 7.
Hamilton was alert to the danger and planted his Mercedes straight in Verstappen’s path. Romain Grosjean was given a five-second penalty for ignoring the blue flags.
The victory was another important milestone for Hamilton. With six races, and 150 points, remaining, he has a tight grip on the title destiny. All the more so because the Marina Bay Circuit in the centre of Singapore was meant to favour the characteristics of the Ferrari over those of Mercedes.
Verstappen had to dice with Vettel as he emerged from his pit stop and he did so successfully in close combat. ‘Yes,’ he exclaimed.
Perez was heavily involved in the evening’s proceedings. First, he and his team-mate Esteban Ocon collided on the third corner of the race. Ocon complained: ‘I got hit by Sergio badly, badly.’ It seemed that Ocon, in fact, was too rash in thinking he could overtake at that point and, although Perez might have allowed him more space had he spotted him, he was merely holding the racing line. ‘There’s no room and I didn’t even see him,’ said Perez. Neither driver was penalised for the accident, which brought out a safety car for four laps.
The Mexican, however, was punished when he turned into Sergey Sorotkin’s Williams, perhaps believing he had cut clear, at the end of a long duel. Perez was given a drive-through penalty for the indiscretion.
Round and round they went, until two hours after it began Hamilton finished where he started, first – ahead of Verstappen by 8.9sec with Vettel a further 28sec back.