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Lewis Hamilton wins Singapore Grand Prix

By Cameron Kirby, 17 Sep 2018 Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton wins Singapore Grand Prix

British driver reigns under lights and moves closer to his fifth championship

LEWIS HAMILTON cruised to victory under lights in Singapore, at a venue where many expected Ferrari and Red Bull to dominate.

The plans for Hamilton’s usurping of the preconceived running order were laid in qualifying, when he put on a masterclass to steal pole from Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.

Read next: Hamilton scores stunning win in 2017 Singapore Grand Prix; Ricciardo second

Where the trio started is where they would finish the Singapore Grand Prix. However while Hamilton had it relatively easy at the lead of the race, Verstappen was forced to work for his second-place finish.

The Dutchman was on the dirty part of the grid, and Vettel got a run heading through the first complex of turns, but couldn’t make a pass stick.

However, the Ferrari driver drained his entire battery on the long run to turn five, slipping past the Red Bull in the nick of time before a Safety Car was called.

Bernd Maylander was summoned to the front of the field as Esteban Ocon’s Force India laid mangled and broken following contact with the circuit’s unforgiving concrete walls.

Ocon was the first and only DNF for the race, crashing at turn three after a bump from his teammate Sergio Perez that was awfully reminiscent of the pair’s multiple clashes last year.

As the official F1 safety car driver, Maylander has now led the fourth-most number of laps at the Singapore Grand Prix, overtaking Nico Rosberg after his 18th appearance in 11 grands prix at the venue.

Vettel held onto second during the opening portion of the race while the field played a game of tyre management on the hypersoft compound. Ferrari attempted to perform an undercut on Hamilton, but it backfired when Vettel was fed back out behind lapped traffic.

Read next: Daniel Ricciardo’s Singapore GP challenge

The situation then got worse for Vettel, who was on the ultrasoft compound, when Verstappen exited pit lane ahead of the Ferrari wearing the harder soft compound.

The 20-year-old Red Bull driver was battling with a powertrain that wanted to select neutral at part throttle, but Verstappen held onto his second place position to the end of the race.

Valtteri Bottas finished fourth behind Vettel, but ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, and Daniel Ricciardo. Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc, and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.

The most entertaining part of the 61-lap affair was Sergey Sirotkin’s antics in the bottom half of the field.

The Russian driver was ahead of Sergio Perez for most of the first half of the grand prix, much to the Mexican’s chagrin.

The Force India driver finally passed the Williams at the halfway point of the race, but with the red mist fogging Perez’s visor, the faster driver moved hard left, causing a collision with Sirotkin. Perez was handed a pit lane penalty for his efforts.

Then it was Kevin Magnussen’s turn to tussle with the Russian. The pair were duelling when race leaders Hamilton and Verstappen arrived on the scene.

The two backmarkers did little to abide by the blue flags, allowing Verstappen to close in on Hamilton. Despite a look down the inside by Verstappen as he and Hamilton lapped traffic, the order at the lead of the race remained unchanged.

Read next: Three of Formula 1’s most spectacularly regrettable swaps

Kiwi Brendon Hartley was the third and final driver to rub shoulders with Sirotkin, with the Williams driver being handed a five second penalty for almost forcing the Toro Rosso into the barriers.

Hamilton now has a 40-point lead over Vettel with just six grands prix left in the championship. With only 25 points available for a victory, the odds are being stacked against Vettel in the fight for a fifth world title. There's still aglimpse of hope for Vettel insofar as he can win if he finishes the remaining races first, with Hamilton consistently second. His fate is, for the time being at least, in his own hands.

However, in Formula 1 you can never be assured of victory, as Vettel knows all too well.