Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took his second successive victory – his fourth this season – after resisting a race-long challenge from Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull Racing’s team-mate Mark Webber finished in third after surviving a clash with Lewis Hamilton, who was forced to retire with damage to his McLaren.
That crash at Turn 7 on lap 36 with the championship leader has dented Hamilton’s title ambitions dearly. Lewis tried to snatch a position off Mark after a lapped Virgin Racing car of Lucas di Grassi held up his Red Bull Racing rival.
Hamilton slipstream past Webber on the run down to Turn 7 and took an outside line – but his left rear wheel was tagged by his rival on the exit of the corner and he was pushed wide.
Although Webber was able to continue and finish on the podium, the impact damaged Hamilton’s car enough to force him out of the Singapore Grand Prix. Another disappointing result especially when he retire from the previous race at Monza.
For Mark Webber, finishing in third was the best reward following a row three qualifying spot. The Australian still leads the drivers’ championship with 202 points, eleven ahead of race winner Alonso, twenty over Hamilton and twenty-one from team-mate Vettel.
Alonso’s win proved to the relatively straightforward – lights to chequered flag – but with two safety car periods and Vettel never far behind the Spaniard, it was a great result for the double world champion after nearly two hours of intense racing.
The pair even came into the pits at the same time for a single pit stop and their track position remained unchanged to the flag.
Webber’s third place owed much to a tyre gamble when the safety car came out on lap three to remove Tonio Liuzzi’s stricken Force India from the circuit. The Red Bull Racing pitwall decided to gamble and bring in the Australian from fifth to change to the harder Bridgestone tyre – with Webber being the only one of the frontrunners to do so.
He returned to the track in P11 and over the laps that followed regained enough lost ground that Webber was able to leapfrog the McLarens in the pits. Hamilton later had an opportunity to get the position back on a race restart – following a safety car appearance caused when Kamui Kobayashi and Bruno Senna collided at Turn 18 – but heading into Turn 7 the Red Bull and McLaren made contact.
The only consolation for McLaren was Jenson Button finishing in fourth, ahead of Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg. As for Rosberg’s team-mate Michael Schumacher, he had a difficult race after clashing with both Saubers and coming home a lap down in unlucky P13.
For Williams, both Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg finished in the points with sixth and ninth respectively. The pair being split by Renault’s Robert Kubica – who made some spectacular overtaking moves in the final laps thanks to fresh tyres – and Force India’s Adrian Sutil.
After starting last on the grid, Felipe Massa drove a solid race to claim the final point for Ferrari in tenth.
In the battle between the second division of Formula One, Lucas di Grassi finished two laps down in P15 for Virgin Racing while Heikki Kovalainen was classified P16 even though his Lotus burst into flames on the main straight near the end.
Alonso’s victory means he is now within 11 points of Webber with four races remaining. The 15 points the Australian scored on Sunday should be credited to the strength of his front wheel and could be the factor in the outcome of this world championship.
Race result from Singapore, 61 laps:
1. Alonso Ferrari 1h57:53.579
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +0.293
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault +29.141
4. Button McLaren-Mercedes +30.384
5. Rosberg Mercedes +49.394
6. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth +56.101
7. Kubica Renault +1:26.559
8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +1:52.416
9. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth +1:52.791
10. Massa Ferrari +1:53.297
11. Petrov Renault +1 lap
12. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Schumacher Mercedes +1 lap
14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
15. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth +2 laps
16. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth +3 laps
Fastest lap: Alonso, 1:47.976
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 51 laps
Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 35 laps
Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 34 laps
Klien HRT-Cosworth 30 laps
Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 29 laps
Senna HRT-Cosworth 28 laps
Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 26 laps
Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1 lap
World Championship standings, round 15:
1. Webber 202
2. Alonso 191
3. Hamilton 182
4. Vettel 181
5. Button 177
6. Massa 125
7. Rosberg 122
8. Kubica 114
9. Sutil 49
10. Schumacher 46
11. Barrichello 39
12. Kobayashi 21
13. Petrov 19
14. Hulkenberg 18
15. Liuzzi 13
16. Buemi 7
17. De la Rosa 6
18. Alguersuari 3
1. Red Bull-Renault 383
2. McLaren-Mercedes 359
3. Ferrari 316
4. Mercedes 168
5. Renault 133
6. Force India-Mercedes 62
7. Williams-Cosworth 57
8. Sauber-Ferrari 27
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10
Next race: Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka. October 8-10.