Anton Andres / FIA, Formula 1, Mercedes-AMG F1, Red Bull Racing | September 18, 2017 15:14
Lewis Hamilton extends championship lead after dominant drive in Singapore
The new championship leader had every reason to celebrate his win in Singapore after saying he 'needed a miracle' in the tough city circuit. Hamilton scored his 60th career win amid challenging conditions, numerous safety car periods and a chaotic start. With that win, Hamilton extends his championship lead to 28 points.
The track was wet when the race started and the front row didn't even make it to the first turn when the mayhem unfolded. Sebastian Vettel made aggressively defended his lead by swinging into the path of Max Verstappen. At the same time, Raikkonen had a rocket start from fourth, giving the Red Bull driver no space to let Vettel through.
Sandwiched by two Ferraris, Verstappen had nowhere to go when the rear wheel of Raikkonen touched the front tire of the Red Bull, which then careened into the side of the Ferrari of Vettel. With the loss of a wheel, Raikkonen had no more control of his car and speared the side of Verstappen's car. Hamilton was barely able to avoid the crash by going to the outside while Fernando Alonso got tangled in the incident. Vettel drove away with damage on his cooling system and spun out on his own coolant, crashing into the wall and losing the Ferrari's nose cone in the process. The safety car was deployed immediately.
With the two Ferrari's out, Hamilton had a clear run at the front and had Daniel Ricciardo behind him in second. When the safety car headed back to the pit, Hamilton wasted no time in building up a hefty lead as Riccardo had no answer to the leader's pace. Ricciardo then started pulling away from Nico Hulkenberg, who was sitting in third at the time. Further back Jolyon Palmer dived on the inside of Valtteri Bottas with the latter still struggling with the greasy conditions. A few laps later, Daniil Kvyat locked up his braked and crashed into wall, forcing another safety car period.
This year's Singapore Grand Prix saw a high rate of attrition. Just past the halfway point and a significant amount of drivers have retired from the race, namely Vettel, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Alonso and Kvyat. A spin from Marcus Ericsson would put him out of the race and bring out the safety car yet again. During that time, the Renault of Hulkenberg would suffer from hydraulic problems, costing him his third place. He later retired from the race. Last of those who would fail to finish the race was Kevin Magnussen. Secured in a points finishing postion, the engine in his Haas went into limp mode just a few minutes away from the finish.
Meanwhile, Bottas was slowly bouncing back as the track dried out, inheriting the podium place from Hulkenberg. Also moving up from Hulkenberg's misfortunes was Carlos Sainz Jr. He kept the nose of his Toro Rosso clean and would be locked in the top five, his career best. Back in front, Hamilton was unchallenged and led the field by 4.5 seconds. Ricciardo was able to hang on to second despite ste up and gearbox problems while Bottas rounded up the top three. As mentioned, Sainz Jr. finished fourth with Force India's Sergio Perez in fifth.