In a dramatic result last Sunday, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel claimed his third victory of the season and his fourth in Singapore. The former world champion began from the pole and controlled himself all the way through the 61-lap race at Singapore’s Marina Bay. For the first time in the 2015 season, Britain’s current world champion Lewis Hamilton had to retire because of problems in his Mercedes engine. With Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg taking the fourth place, it was a podium finish without a Mercedes driver – some kind of rarity these days. The race itself was full of incidents with two safety car periods. But it was like old times for the 4-time world champion, whose reign at the top was stopped by Hamilton in 2014. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was second and Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished third to make it two podium places for team Ferrari after a long time.
It was a race to remember for Sebastian Vettel, who had taken the top pole position after the qualifying sessions on Saturday. In a sensational performance, Vettel finished first on the grid ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. For the first time in 15 months, no Mercedes driver could take the front position as Hamilton finished fifth and Nico Rosberg was placed sixth. The third grid spot went to Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and fourth to Daniil Kvyat of the Red Bull. Behind Nico Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas of the Williams was seventh, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was eighth, Bottas’ Williams teammate Felipe Mass finished ninth and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean brought up the rear as tenth.
On Sunday, pole man Vettel pulled away from the pack and took an early 3 seconds lead from Ricciardo even as the first lap was completed. The Red Bull driver fought hard with Vettel and the two drivers traded blows in a battle that lasted all through the 61 laps. The first safety car incident occurred on lap 14, when Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg collided with Felipe Massa’s Williams as Massa exited the pit lane. Hulkenberg went off the track and hit the wall. He had to retire immediately and when the stewards found that Hulkenberg was responsible for the incident, he was slapped a three-place grid penalty for next week’s Japanese Grand Prix. Vettel held his nerve at the restart and continued to lead Ricciardo.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton unfortunately suffered the season’s first retirement, when his engine began to lose power in lap 27. He tried to fight the situation for some laps before retiring on lap 34. A totally unexpected incident took place on lap 37, when a 27-year old man gained an unauthorized access to the track and invaded the field. Fortunately, nothing happened to the race and the man was promptly arrested. But the safety car had come out and another restart was ordered. The battle between Vettel and Ricciardo continued afterwards and the two of them recorded fastest laps one after another in the closing stages. Finally Vettel finished as the winner and Ricciardo a close second. Kimi Raikkonen was third ahead of Nico Rosberg. Williams’ Bottas was fifth, Kvyat sixth, Force India driver Sergio Perez held on the seventh place ahead of Toro Rosso drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Sauber driver Felipe Nasr took the tenth spot.
Before the race on Sunday, everyone talked about Lewis Hamilton equaling Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 race victories but after the Briton’s retirement, it was Vettel, who recorded his 42nd race victory and went past Senna. But both Hamilton and Vettel are way behind 91 victories by Michael Schumacher and 52 by Alain Prost.
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