Lewis Hamilton achieved his 44th career victory in Formula 1 was a dominant display at the Singapore Grand Prix as another Ferrari tactical blunder cost Sebastian Vettel the chance of race win.
Vettel had to settle for third position behind Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton and Vettel made the best starts of the top three and the pole-sitting Mercedes cut cleanly through the first three corners as second-placed Verstappen had to defend his position from Vettel.
Behind them, Sergio Perez nudged his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon into the outside wall at Turn 3, eliminating him from the race and bringing out the safety car.
But before race control took the decision to neutralise the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel had made use of a better exit from Turn 5 to draw alongside Verstappen and pass him on the outside into Turn 7.
In their wake, the majority of the top ten got away in grid order – Bottas in fourth followed by Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean – but ultrasoft runners Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz Jr each gained two positions on the opening lap, at the expense of Nico Hulkenberg and the now-absent Ocon.
The race got under way again on lap four but the frontrunners were running cautiously, nearly 11 seconds off qualifying pace, to manage their fragile hypersoft tyres and extend the first stint as far as possible.
As the lap count entered double figures the frontrunners lifted their pace in anticipation of the pitstops. Vettel was the first to dive in, on lap 14, taking on a set of ultrasofts.
The stop would prove disastrous for Vettel, since he emerged behind Perez and spent two laps bottled up behind him.
Meanwhile Hamilton and Verstappen pitted on successive laps to take on soft Pirellis with a clear strategy of running to the end with no further stops.
Hamilton returned seamlessly into the net lead, and although Verstappen’s engine stuttered slightly as he left the pit apron, he just squeaked ahead of Vettel into Turn 3.
The initial pitstop phase left Hamilton with a three seconds lead over Verstappen once Ricciardo became the last of the frontrunners to change tyres, on lap 27.
Vettel was a frustrated third, telling his Ferrari team: “We were again too late. We will not make it to the end.”
As at the Monaco Grand Prix, drivers starting outside the top ten with a free tyre choice benefitted as some of those ahead on softer rubber pitted first.
Conversely, when Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Grosjean shed their hypersoft boots they emerged behind the tail-end Williams pairing of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, who had started on soft tyres and had no plans to stop promptly.
This prompted the race’s second significant incident when Perez grew impatient with Sirotkin and swerved at him as he finally went past at Turn 17 on lap 33, picking up a puncture in the process and enabling Hulkenberg to nip through.
As Grosjean tried to follow Hulkenberg through the pair baulked Hamilton as he came up to lap them, briefly enabling Verstappen to enter attacking range.
Once clear, though, Hamilton stretched his margin out to three seconds again and remained out of reach until the chequered flag, eventually finishing 8.9 seconds clear – with Vettel a further 30.9 seconds down the road.
While Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel and Bottas nursed their tyres to the finish, a battle for fourth place erupted in the closing laps as Ricciardo closed in on and challenged Raikkonen, who in turn crept up on Bottas. But nothing came of it and Bottas crossed the line 1s clear.
Fernando Alonso won ‘class B’ for McLaren from 11th on the grid, taking advantage of a long first stint on the ultrasofts to gain track position at the expense of Perez and Grosjean, and then undercutting Sainz for seventh place when he made his single stop on lap 38.
Charles Leclerc, another driver to start outside the top ten on ultrasofts, followed Sainz home in ninth place, while Hulkenberg completed a solid recovery drive to round out the top ten after losing track position on the opening lap.
So a fantastic result for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. That magic pole in qualifying sealed an important track position to take race victory. A massive 40-point advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is just perfect and it’s going to be a real challenge to fight back.
Singapore Grand Prix race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 61 1h51m11.611s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 61 8.961s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 61 39.945s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 61 51.930s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 61 53.001s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 61 53.982s
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 61 1m43.011s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 60 1 Lap
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 60 1 Lap
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 60 1 Lap
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 60 1 Lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 60 1 Lap
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 60 1 Lap
14 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 60 1 Lap
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 60 1 Lap
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 60 1 Lap
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 60 1 Lap
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 59 2 Laps
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 59 2 Laps
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 0 Collision
1 Lewis Hamilton 281
2 Sebastian Vettel 241
3 Kimi Raikkonen 174
4 Valtteri Bottas 171
5 Max Verstappen 148
6 Daniel Ricciardo 126
7 Nico Hulkenberg 53
8 Fernando Alonso 50
9 Kevin Magnussen 49
10 Sergio Perez 46
11 Esteban Ocon 45
12 Carlos Sainz 38
13 Pierre Gasly 28
14 Romain Grosjean 27
15 Charles Leclerc 15
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Lance Stroll 6
18 Marcus Ericsson 6
19 Brendon Hartley 2
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1
1 Mercedes 452
2 Ferrari 415
3 Red Bull-Renault 274
4 Renault 91
5 Haas-Ferrari 76
6 McLaren-Renault 58
7 Force India-Mercedes 32
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 30
9 Sauber-Ferrari 21
10 Williams-Mercedes 7