Hamilton capitalises on Vettel's drama in Singapore

From ESPN - September 17, 2017

MARINA BAY, Singapore -- Lewis Hamilton won a chaotic and rain-hit Singapore Grand Prix to extend his championship lead to 28 points over title rival Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel was involved in a dramatic first corner incident with Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, which saw the trio all retire from the race on the opening lap. Hamilton, who started fifth on the grid, managed to avoid the carnage and took the lead as Vettel's initial crash damage resulted in him spinning out on the run to Turn 4. A replay showed fluid streaming out of Vettel's damaged sidepod after Turn 1 and it is likely it caused him to lose the rear of his car and hammer his Ferrari against the barrier. Although Vettel continued for a short distance, his team soon came on the radio to tell him to stop due to a loss of water pressure.

Through drying conditions and three safety car periods, Hamilton led a reduced field of cars until the race time limit of two hours elapsed on lap 58. Despite having his lead zeroed during at three Safety Car restarts, he held off Daniel Ricciardo in second place and crossed the finish line with a 4.5s lead over the Red Bull. Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas fought back from sixth on the grid to finish third, completing a strong result for the team, which now has a 92-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

The result also has huge ramifications for the drivers' championship as Hamilton extended his lead to 28 points -- enough for him to retire from the next race and still lead the championship regardless of Vettel's result. What's more, Hamilton's victory -- his seventh of the season -- came on a track where Mercedes had struggled all weekend and Vettel was expected to win from pole position.

First corner carnage

As the cars arrived on the grid 15 minutes ahead of the race, rain started to fall and lightning lit up the sky over Singapore. It was the first time in the Singapore Grand Prix's history that rain had hit on race day and the grid was a mix of drivers opting for intermediate and full-wet tyres.

Verstappen -- who qualified second on the grid -- made a good start, but so did Raikkonen from fourth and he was soon alongside the 19-year-old's car. Vettel's getaway was routine but he soon found Verstappen closing in on him on the inside, and the Ferrari driver moved across to cover the Red Bull, apparently unaware Raikkonen was on the other side of the No.33 car and next to the pit wall.

Sandwiched between the two Ferraris, Verstappen made contact with Raikkonen, sending the Finnish driver's car into the pit wall. Raikkonen touched Vettel and lost control of his car as he collected Verstappen and Fernando Alonso in Turn 1. The incident took Verstappen and Raikkonen out on the spot, while Vettel continued with a scarred sidepod and fluid draining from the cooling systems within. Alonso also continued despite a large chunk of his sidepod and floor missing, but he retired on lap eight after McLaren lost all telemetry from the car.

A second Safety Car


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