Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix with a faultless drive from pole position to redeem himself after his last lap crash in Monza. But his task was made easier by key errors made by his two main rivals, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.
Both made mistakes in pit stops which brought them drive through penalties; Rosberg had done the hard work at the start, passing Vettel off the line to take second place, but then he got into trouble when he made a slip after his pit stop and crossed the white line on the pit exit.
Vettel was penalised for speeding in the pit lane. Rosberg was doubly unlucky as his penalty was handed out just as a safety car was deployed and it meant that he had to serve it when the field was all bunched up, which dropped him down to 14th place. Any hope of that first victory were gone.
Vettel had a little more luck. Although he lost second place through his error, his drive-through happened later on in the race and he was able to rejoin in seventh place and then pick off other cars when they made their second stops. He ended up fourth. “It’s all we could do in the end. I had a chance of a podium. I was surprised when I got the call for speeding in the pit lane. It’s disappointing because the car was quick.”
Apart from Hamilton, the happiest man in Singapore tonight will be Jenson Button. He extended his lead over Rubens Barrichello in the points table to 15 with three races remaining thanks to a strong recovery drive from 12th on the grid. He had quite severe brake problems at the end of the race and had to nurse the car home, but managed to finish in fifth place, one spot ahead of Barrichello. Button was helped by a call from the pits not to pit after Mark Webber had a crash. Many drivers thought that a safety car might come out so they dived into the pits, but Button stayed out, correctly as it turned out and jumped both Heikki Kovalainen and Barrichello.
For Hamilton it was a second victory of the season and proof that he and McLaren are ending the season as consistent front runners, “I came here wanting to redeem myself after the last race and I did it, ” he said. “The race was straightforward for me. I built a big enough gap and was never under serious pressure. I felt it was a nicely controlled race. I had not problems in the car but the team came on the radio and said there was a fault with the KERS so I had to disable and then re-engage it but it was no problem. The focus you need here is as much as you can get, it’s just corner after corner, there is no let up and it’s bumpy.”
Arguably the driver of the day was Toyota’s Timo Glock, who equalled his best ever result in second place. He drove a perfect race, which was made by his audacious pass on Alonso at the start. His luck was really in as Mark Webber was told to let Alonso through as he had retained his position by going off the race track and in order to do that he had to let Glock through first. So Glock gained two key places.
Alonso being passed by Glock was a decisive moment because he was never able to get back on terms with the Toyota driver. Nevertheless after the two weeks Renault has just endured, it is appropriate that they should get their first podium of the season here.
“The result is great for us, first podium of the season and it was a great race, ” said Alonso.
Webber didn’t finish the race, he clearly had brake problems when he made his second stop, but the mechanics inspected his right front brake and sent him back out. Shortly afterwards he had a brake failure which pitched him off the circuit.