Singapore Grand Prix: Hamilton defies the odds to extend championship lead over Vettel
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News September 18, 2017 Updated: 1:21 AM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes his 60th career victory under the lights of the Marina Bay Circuit at Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix. Photo: Scuderia Ferrari
MARINA BAY, Singapore — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton avoided disaster and was able to extend his championship lead and take his 60th career victory after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen all came together in a massive first turn collision.
After a dominate qualifying performance on Saturday, the stage seemed to be set for Vettel to retake the lead in the driver's championship as title rival Lewis Hamilton only managed to qualify fifth. The only thing that Vettel would have to worry about would be the Red Bull's of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo who have been strong all weekend.
As the lights went out, Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen all went heading into Turn 1 with Hamilton having a strong start catching Vettel. But as all three drivers were about to enter Turn 1, Verstappen found himself in a Ferrari sandwich with nowhere to go. As the three came closer together, Raikkonen and Verstappen's wheels both made contact resulting in a chain reaction sending Raikkonen's car flying into his teammate after which Raikkonen continued on into to Verstappen's car, which also made contact with McLaren's Fernando Alonso, an innocent bystander in the incident. Vettel's car limped on until he lost control heading into turn five and making contact with the barrier destroying his front wing. As fluid was gushing from his radiator, it was evident that the team would have to retire his car sending a devastating blow to Vettel in the driver's championship.
"Obviously today really came to me. As I said, I would have given everything, obviously, if it was dry – would have been a much, much harder race. For some reason the Ferraris and also the Red Bulls are much stronger in those conditions, when it’s warmer and grippier but, it was a nice reset with the rain that came in today, which dropped the grip level, I think. And then obviously being Intermediates to start with, still even in that scenario, I thought they would be a lot closer pace-wise but... yeah, these conditions, as I said, I love, and it’s very much an opportunity to really make a difference with your driving in those conditions, and today I was really able to," said Hamilton.
As for Hamilton things could not have gone any better for the three time world champion, whose focus on damage limitation, was able to take advantage of the gifts that were handed to him. Another gift provided to Hamilton, was the mixed wet conditions that came minutes before the start of the race. Driving well in these conditions is a part of Hamilton's skill set. After holding off a pursuing Daniel Ricciardo and surviving three safety cars, Lewis Hamilton crossed the line 28 points ahead in the fight for the title. For the third year in a row Ricciardo has finished second on the podium but has yet to take a victory on the streets of Singapore.
"I can’t win the bloody thing! I’m trying; I’m trying. I like it around here. Today, we probably didn’t show that Friday pace we showed in practice to have the pace on the Mercedes. A little bit disappointed to miss out on a win but I’ve still got to be pretty grateful and happy with another podium and I think there are more Aussies here than last year and there was more then than the year before, so it’s getting better," said Ricciardo.
Ricciardo finished 4.507s behind Hamilton after having three opportunities to challenge Hamilton for the lead. Valtteri Bottas joined his teammate in the run up the grid to finish third. Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz finished strong taking fourth after teammate Daniil Kvyat lost his car and aquaplaned going into turn seven and straight into the barriers. Sainz' result makes it the highest he has ever finished in his career.
“WOW! What a day, what a result! I’d say this is probably my best day in Formula 1 up until now! After a weekend with so much media attention, to put together a perfect weekend and finish the race in P4 is just amazing," said Sainz
Sergio Perez took home fifth for Force India after a hard push to challenge Sainz for fourth in the closing stages of the race. Jolyon Palmer finished sixth as he added to what could have been a massive result for the team. Unfortunately, teammate Nico Hulkenberg ran into a hydraulic issue and was forced to retire his car.
Seventh went to Stoffel Vandoorne who who kept the fight alive for McLaren after teammate Fernando Alonso was taken out during the Turn 1 incident.
Lance Stroll put points on the board for William's finishing eighth followed by Haas' Romain Grosjean in ninth. Esteban Ocon took the final points paying spot in tenth as only two other cars finished the race with Felipe Massa in 11th who had a small scrap with Kevin Magnussen leading Magnussen to eventually retire from the race due to an electrical issue.
Pascal Wehrlein made the final car to finish the Singapore Grand Prix in 12th after teammate Marcus Ericsson lost his car at Anderson Bridge making contact with the barrier.