A ruthless Lewis Hamilton won Sunday’s night’s Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix in dominant fashion, extending his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to a seemingly insurmountable 40 points over his arch-rival Sebastian Vettel, who finished a distant third behind Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

It was an indomitable display by Hamilton, capping off a weekend where the Englishman strung together displays of talent and skill that show why he deserves to become just the third driver to win five World Championship titles. Put simply, he was a class apart.

Coming into the weekend, the Singapore Grand Prix was Ferrari’s seemingly to lose. The weekend began optimistically with the red cars being on the pace in the opening Friday practice session, but dark clouds quickly gathered when Vettel hit the wall midway through FP2 and was out of the session. While his teammate Kimi Räikkönen finished the session fastest and could at least provide Vettel’s side of the garage with useful data to negate the track time lost, there simply isn’t any substitute for proper mileage.

When the same floodlot conditions came on Saturday, Ferrari was found wanting in both pace and strategy. Vettel could manage no better than third-fastest and was left reeling by a scorching lap from Hamilton that secured the defending champion one of the best pole positions of his career.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W09 - 2018 Singapore Grand Prix

Hamilton led the race from the front and was only briefly threatened at mid-distance thanks to some shocking ignorance of the blue flags by Romain Grosjean.

Ferrari therefore needed to be aggressive with its race strategy. Starting from the cleaner side of the grid, Vettel was crucially able to get the jump on second-placed Verstappen on the run down Raffles Boulevard.

Just seconds after completing the move, the field was held behind the Safety Car so Esteban Ocon’s damaged Force India could be retrieved from the barriers at the exit of Turn 3. Replays showed that the Frenchman was squeezed into the wall by his teammate Sergio Pérez as the midfield pack funneled through the opening sequence of corners. For Pérez, this was the beginning of a nightmare race, much of which was self-inflicted.

Once the green flags were waving again, Hamilton controlled the pace at the front and was pursued by Vettel and Verstappen. The trio steadily pulled away from the respective sister cars of Valtteri Bottas, Räikkönen and Daniel Ricciardo who lay in fourth, fifth and sixth.

Hamilton kept the pace quick enough not to be seriously challenged from behind, yet at the slowest possible speed to preserve the Hypersoft compound tyres on which he and his rivals had started their race.

Max Verstappen, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 & Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H - 2018 Singapore Grand Prix

Verstappen exits inches ahead of Vettel after his sole pit stop.

After the first 12 laps he put the hammer down to build a gap to Vettel, and Ferrari responded by calling the German into the pits at the end of Lap 13 in the hope of undercutting the race-leader. Ferrari went aggressive and put Vettel onto the Ultrasoft tyres, instead of the more durable Soft tyres, to see out the race to the chequered flag.

Mercedes responded to cover Vettel’s pit stop, swapping Hamilton’s Hypersoft tyres and making a more conventional switch to the Soft rubber to guarantee he could make it home on the same tyre set.

Verstappen now led and having run a patient race after being passed by Vettel on Lap 1, the Dutch youngster increased his pace and was able to emerge ahead of Vettel – but only just – when he made his sole pit stop at the end of Lap 17.

The yet to stop Räikkönen, and then Ricciardo, took turns in the race lead and made their sole pit stops at the end of Laps 22 and 27. Räikkönen switched to Soft tyres, while Ricciardo’s lengthy opening stint on his Hypersofts opened the door for him to run the rest of his race on the quicker Ultrasoft rubber.

With Hamilton back in the lead, he built a gap to Verstappen and Vettel. His path forward was, at times, hampered by some truly unhelpful displays of driving by several backmarkers he was trying to lap.

The worst came on Lap 36 when Hamilton came across Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin who were disputing fourteenth place. For over a lap Hamilton found himself boxed in behind Grosjean, with the Frenchman oblivious to the blue flags as he attempted to get by Sirotkin’s Williams.

Sirotkin was, by this stage of the race, adopting the Maginot Line philosophy of ‘They shall not pass’. The Russian’s race was compromised by having to make an unscheduled pit stop when debris from the Ocon-Pérez incident became lodged in his front wing. Trying to run the rest of the race on his Soft compound tyres, he had a spiteful scrap with Pérez after the Mexican’s own stop to change tyres.

Sirotkin’s defensive driving was – in the eyes of Pérez – verging on unsporting, as for lap after lap he tried to muscle his much quicker Force India past the Williams. Eventually he drew alongside and the pair ran side-by-side through several corners before Pérez – displaying a pique that can only be described as a complete brain fade – swerved into Sirotkin’s path. The pair made contact, causing damage to both, with Pérez coming off worse by getting a puncture and a drive-through penalty for his stupidity.

Sirotkin, now nursing a damaged car was at the mercy of the remaining drivers behind him. Next up was Grosjean, but he too was given the short shrift as the pair faught an increasingly desperate scrap.

All the while Hamilton was closing in and needing to lap the pair of them. He was held up behind Grosjean for over a lap, which led to his advantage over Verstappen and Vettel completely evaporating. As he finally got by Sirotkin and Grosjean (the latter would rightly be issued a time penalty), Verstappen was almost in a position to strike.

That was, in essence, as tense as the race got. From there on, Hamilton had much better luck with the traffic and eased back into a comfortable lead over Verstappen, while Vettel found his tyres fade away in the final laps as he dropped over half a minute adrift in third. Bottas, Räikkönen and Ricciardo finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively to ensure that the top-six qualifiers finished in the order they started.

Fernando Alonso drove superbly to finish seventh in his McLaren, claiming his and the team’s best result since his trio of seventh placings at the Bahrain, Chinese and Azerbaijan Grands Prix.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished eighth in his Renault, with tenth-placed teammate Nico Hülkenberg allowing the Enstone team to extend its points margin to Haas by 15 points in their battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings. Sandwiched between them in ninth place was Ferrari-bound Sauber driver Charles Leclerc, who put in another excellent display on a circuit he’d never previously raced at.


FORMULA 1 2018 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (61 LAPS)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 61 1:51:11.611
2. Max Verstappen nl Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 61 + 8.961
3. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 61 + 39.945
4. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 61 + 51.930
5. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 61 + 53.001
6. Daniel Ricciardo au Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14 61 + 53.982
7. Fernando Alonso es McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 61 + 1:43.011
8. Carlos Sainz Jr es Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 60 1 lap behind
9. Charles Leclerc mc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 60 1 lap behind
10. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 60 1 lap behind
11. Marcus Ericsson se Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 60 1 lap behind
12. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 60 1 lap behind
13. Pierre Gasly fr Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 60 1 lap behind
14. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 60 1 lap behind
15. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 60 1 lap behind
16. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 60 1 lap behind
17. Brendon Hartley nz Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 60 1 lap behind
18. Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 59 2 laps behind
19. Sergey Sirotkin ru Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 59 2 laps behind
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps
DNF. Esteban Ocon fr Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 0 Collision
Fastest Lap Team / Entry Lap Time
Kevin Magnussen dk Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 50 1:41.905

Post-Race Penalties:

    • Romain Grosjean – who was provisionally classified 14th – was ssued a 5-second post-race time penalty for ignoring blue flags.

Images via Formula1.com

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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