2018: Round 15/21, SINGAPORE GP, Marina Bay

EPIC POLE BRINGS LEWIS UNEXPECTED VICTORY

Vettel and Ferrari mess-up again as title hopes wilt

1st    LEWIS HAMILTON         Mercedes

2nd   MAX VERSTAPPEN       Red Bull

3rd    SEBASTIAN VETTEL     Ferrari

Singapore dealt a further body blow to Vettel’s championship hopes as Hamilton won at a Mercedes bogey circuit. Mercedes had worked hard to improve their poor Marina Bay record but it wouldn’t have been enough left to Bottas. Hamilton produced a stunning pole 0.7s faster than his teammate and vitally, 0.6s up on Vettel. He made a perfect start, seeing off every challenge thrown at him: the lap 5 SC restart; Vettel’s attempted lap 14 undercut, and again when badly held up in traffic mid-race. In hot and testing conditions, his display was pluperfect. Vettel’s wasn’t. He lost valuable time in FP2 after hitting a barrier, then in Q3 allowed Verstappen to claim the front row alongside Hamilton. The rest of his problems were down to his team! Having superbly passed Verstappen for P2 in the opening moments, his team mired him in traffic with a very early stop, then chose tyres that left Seb 40s behind Lewis at the flag. And on lap 17 they allowed Verstappen, with a smart overcut, to reclaim P2 despite a slow pit-stop due to the drivability of his Renault engine. This was a dull race, the top six finishing in grid order, and plenty of evidence throughout the field of dirty air impeding overtaking. Unable to pass a sluggish Williams for lap after lap, Perez drove into Sirotkin in frustration, having already side-swiped his teammate on lap 1. Nil points for Force India after qualifying P7 and P9. Alonso showed class with best of the rest P7.

Incidentally…
Hamilton’s epic pole lap was Senna-esque, almost otherworldly. “I don’t really know where it came from. That lap felt like magic.” It was over 1s faster than the best in Q2 and 3.5s up on last year’s pole. Some hailed it as one of the great laps in F1 history, others that it was championship-winning, his pole setting up the victory. Vettel’s despondent third place behind Verstappen left him 40 points short of Hamilton with six to go.

The Championship Chase
Hamilton 281, Vettel 241, Räikkönen 174, Bottas 171, Verstappen 148

Mercedes 452, Ferrari 415, Red Bull 274, Renault 91, Haas 76

RS
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