Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull won the Singapore Grand Prix to secure his third straight victory and extend his lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second and Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus third in last night’s race at the Marina Bay street circuit. Vettel’s 32.6-second winning margin, watched by a crowd including David Beckham and singer Tom Jones, was the largest so far this season.
The victory put Vettel, who’s seeking his fourth straight driver’s title, 60 points clear of Alonso atop the standings with 150 points available from the remaining six races.
“Obviously we’re in a very good position, very strong position but I’m enjoying the moment,” Vettel said in a news conference. “I love racing and the car’s fantastic and it doesn’t happen by accident. Days like this it’s just a pleasure to be in the car.”
Fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber failed to finish after a burning engine ended his chances on the final lap. Officials later reprimanded him for collecting a lift back to the pits on the side of Alonso’s car during the Spaniard’s warm-down lap. Webber’s third sanction of the season means the Australian will serve a 10-place grid penalty in his next race.
Webber was punished for having entered the track on foot without the permission of marshals. Alonso also was reprimanded for driving “in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”
After starting in pole position, Vettel briefly lost the lead to Nico Rosberg, though regained it after the Mercedes driver ran wide on the second corner. From that point on Vettel controlled the race, building a gap of almost six seconds after just three laps.
The safety car was deployed on lap 25 after Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso crashed into barriers. The race re-started after six laps and Vettel immediately started to rebuild his advantage over the rest of the field.
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said the 61-lap victory was one of Vettel’s best drives.
“He’s only just 26,” Horner said of Vettel. “The talent’s always been there and as he gets more experience he continues to improve.”
Spain’s Alonso, who started seventh on the grid, surged up to third within two corners and was able to claim the runner-up spot by taking an earlier pit stop than his rivals.
“It tastes like a victory for us,” Alonso said. “It was a risky move, we had nothing to lose.”
‘Killing the Show’
Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier, speaking to Sky Sports after the race, said Vettel and Red Bull’s wins are becoming predictable.
“I don’t think there’s any point trying to catch this car,” Boullier said. “It’s a bit killing the show.”
Vettel, who was again jeered by fans during an interview after the podium ceremony, said that the Singapore Grand Prix is one of the toughest races of the year.
“The start was quite hairy,” said Vettel, who was booed earlier this month after winning in Italy. “After the safety car came out, the car was incredible. It was incredible to drive it around this crazy track.”
Vettel’s 33rd Grand Prix victory took him above Alonso into fourth place on the list of career wins. The defending world champion has won seven of this season’s 13 races.
Rosberg finished fourth ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and McLaren pair Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. Nico Hulkenberg of Sauber and Adrian Sutil of Force India rounded off the top-10 scoring positions.
Vettel has 247 points atop the drivers’ standings, ahead of Alonso on 187, Hamilton (151), Raikkonen (149) and Webber (130).
Red Bull leads the constructors’ championship with 377 points ahead of Ferrari (274), Mercedes (267) and Lotus (206).
The next race is Oct. 6 in South Korea, and the season ends in Sao Paulo on Nov. 24.
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