Hamilton wins chaotic GP
Singapore race finishes with just 12 drivers
Lewis Hamilton won a chaotic and rain-hit Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday to seize control of the Formula One world championship as his title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out on the first lap.
Ferrari’s Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen all went out just after the start of the first wet race in Singapore, which saw three safety cars and finished with only 12 drivers.
It all played perfectly into the hands of Mercedes driver Hamilton, who went from fifth on the grid to first and held off Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to clinch his third win in a row.
With his 60th race victory and seventh this season, Hamilton – who had said he needed a “miracle” after struggling in qualifying – stands 28 points ahead of Vettel with six Grands Prix left this year.
“Guys what can I say – what a turnaround today! Fantastic job with the team strategy,” Hamilton said over the radio, before leaping out of his car and hugging his engineers.
“God blessed me today, for sure,” he said later, dripping with champagne. “I capitalized on the incident – who would have known that would happen?
“It was really unfortunate for the Ferraris but a great result for the [Mercedes] team.”
Some drivers had expressed concerns about visibility in the wet under floodlights, but the night race had hardly started when it lost three of the first four cars on the grid.
Raikkonen plowed into Red Bull’s Verstappen on the first corner, taking both cars out of the race and also heavily shunting Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.
Pole sitter Vettel, who had been looking to reclaim the world championship lead from Hamilton, spun further ahead and lost his front wing, a crash that also ended his race.
“Obviously it sucks being on the wrong side of the track now, but that’s what it is,” Vettel shrugged after returning to the paddock.
But Hamilton dodged the pileup and he progressed from fifth on the grid to first, ahead of Ricciardo, as the race finally restarted after a safety car.
Alonso lasted just a few laps before the damage sustained at the first corner forced him to retire, and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat became the fifth man out when he plowed nose-first into a barrier – prompting a second safety car.