Superb Seb Shatters Singapore GP
Fresh tires equal fastest lap
After masterfully showing his superiority on Saturday by completing just a single fiercely fast Q3 lap to take the pole position, “Superb Seb” had an uncommonly fresh set of supersoft tires at his disposal when he pitted for the second time late in the race on Sunday. Already outpacing his opponents, the 26-year-old built a gigantic gap that allowed him to stay out in front despite making a pit stop on Lap 44. And the supersofts gave him even more speed. He came out of the pit lane to race the day’s Fastest Lap in 1min 48.574, setting a new lap record on the slightly altered Marina Bay Street Circuit that was a full second faster than the next fastest lap. What followed was a series of runs that saw Vettel outpace his chasers and build a colossal 32.6-second lead to the finish line.
“Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull is a combination of car and driver that is simply impossible to beat at this very moment in Formula 1,” said DHL’s F1 expert, Christian Danner, after the race.
Fourth title in reach
The chasers simply couldn’t keep up and were left to watch the three-time World Champion score his third consecutive victory. With an enormous 60-point deficit to overcome in the six remaining Grands Prix, it appears likely they’ll be left watching the German wunderkind pilot his way to a fourth Formula 1 title. Now at 247 points, the champ could realistically seal the victory with another checkered flag in one of the next two Grands Prix. Only Alonso (187) has even the slightly chance of catching Vettel, while Mercedes Lewis Hamilton (151) and Räikkönen (149) appear to be out of reach. Ferrari’s number one driver, currently number two on the driver’s table, admits that “to win the title now, we would need a lot of luck.”
It was Vettel’s 33rd career Grand Prix victory, which now puts him ahead of Alonso. It was also his seventh win this season.
“I’m enjoying the moment, the car is fantastic. It’s no accident that we are up here,” he said after the race.
Hard-fought podium spots
The two drivers who joined Sebastian Vettel on the podium in Singapore certainly fought hard to get there after poor qualifying results. Alonso drove a superb race from P7 to take second and Lotus F1 Team driver Kimi Räikkönen found third after a huge up-field charge from P13.
“Today’s second place is like a victory for us,” said Alonso at the end of the day.
After an exciting start, which saw Alonso shoot from P7 to P3 off the grid and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg pass Vettel briefly in Turn 1, fans initially watched a rather uneventful, even lethargic, race. In the end, they weren’t disappointed as the chase to join Vettel heated up like the asphalt on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Vettel’s future teammate, Daniel Ricciardo first stirred things up when he broke too late in Lap 25 and crashed his Toro Rosso into the barrier, bringing out the safety car – a sight that has become somewhat of an establishment in the floodlit race. There has been a race-neutralizing accident at every Grand Prix-in Singapore since its debut in 2008.
Shortlived chance for the chasers
What first appeared to give the chasers a chance to catch up to the champ turned into yet another opportunity for Vettel to display his dominance. He put up an unbelievable pace to build up an even greater lead.
A decisive phase of pit stops ensued which saw Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton dive into the pits for fresh rubber and return to the track in the middle of the pack. Vettel stayed out on the track on superb tire maintenance and with a 32-second gap between himself and Alonso he had no trouble remaining in the lead during his final pit.
Iceman Räikkönen again showed us what he is made of, making an ice-cold move on Jenson Button in the McLaren to take P3 in the final laps.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton followed his teammate Nico Rosberg for fifth place and enough points to keep himself in third place for the championship.
Although Alonso, Räikkönen and Hamilton all added a double-digit numbers to their championship point tallies, Vettel’s three consecutive wins have slowly moved him nearly out of reach.
With six races to go, Vettel now has 247 points, extending his lead to 60 over Alonso. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton follows in third with 151 points. The Iceman’s crowd-pleasing charge from P 13 to P3 allows him to maintain P4 on driver’s table. In the team standings, Red Bull remain out on their own on the top. Ferrari, for now, is successively fending off the silver arrows.
Sebastian Vettel’s dominance includes the DHL Fastest Lap table, where he leads with five Fastest Laps and is on course for tripleheader. Teammate Mark Webber is his closest rival with three.
“The DHL Fastest Lap award is an easy target for Sebastian Vettel,” said DHL’s F1 Expert and former F1 driver, Christian Danner. “Towards the end of the race he was on the soft tire and then he could set fastest lap without a big effort.”