Formula 1: Vettel Moves to Within Point of Title After Win in Singapore GP 25/09/2011 17:11:00
On the podium in Singapore. Fromt left: Jenson Button (second), Sebastian Vettel (first) and Mark Webber (third together with a Red Bull engineer
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel must wait for the next GP in Japan to seal his second successive world drivers championship title. His ninth and dominant victory from 14 races in Sunday's incident-packed Singapore Grand Prix moves him just one point short of the title with five gps remaining.
Mathematically, the only driver who can beat him and has kept the championship alive, is McLaren's Jenson Button, who finished second ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber on Singapore's street circuit. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fourth from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who recovered from a five visits to the pits, including a drive-through penalty.
Force India's Scottish driver Paul di Resta drove superbly on his debut at one of the toughest races on the calendar and he took an impressive sixth place, ahead of seventh-placed Nico Rosberg on a Mercedes who himself won a breathless battle for seventh place in the closing laps from Force India's Adrian Sutil. Ferrari's Felipe Massa got eighth place by virtue over getting ahead of Sauber's Sergio Perez at the start of the final lap.
Vettel's victory puts him 124 points ahead of Button with only 125 still available in a season in which he has finished first or second in every race except one – when he was fourth.
Vettel stormed off from pole position and managed to gain a 4.4-second lead over Button after three laps. He extended it to 12 seconds before the drivers made their first pit stops - on lap 14 for both leaders - and kept it there for the rest of the race until easing off towards the end.
Button closed on him rapidly as the chequered flag neared, but the illusion of a race was just that - Vettel was in control and if he felt there was danger to his victory he could have got more power from his car.
A safety car introduced after Michael Schumacher's Mercedes was launched into the air after running into the back of Perez had no impact on Vettel. Schumacher emerged unhurt from his wrecked car.
With Button held up behind Jarno Trulli's lapped Lotus at the restart, Vettel again left his pursuers standing and was a massive 8.9 seconds clear after just one lap following the resumption of racing. Vettel said that when the safety car entered the circuit it didn't really fit to his team's plan because they had a big gap. But he believes he was lucky as there were some back markers as he was able to pull a big gap again.
At the end of the race he said: “I love the track, I love the challenge, so great. The car was fantastic. Last year was a tough fight with Fernando (Alonso) all the way, shadowing him, I felt I could have gone a bit quicker, so it was nice to come back here and get the job done."
Jenson Button spent the race controlling the margin behind him to Webber, who had to pass Alonso twice to take third place, the first time into Turn 15, after challenging the Spaniard on the outside into the previous corner.
After losing the place again during the safety-car period, Webber surprised Alonso into Turn 10 after the Ferrari driver was held up by the Toro Rosso of Jaime Algursuari.
For Lewis Hamilton it was another eventful race in what has been an unhappy season for the 2008 world champion. He started fourth behind Vettel, Webber and Button, and lost ground at the start, because he had to back out of an attempt to pass the slow-starting Webber. It dropped him to eighth.
After that, Lewis collided with Massa, damaged his front wing in the incident, with Massa's puncturing a rear tyre and after pitting had to return to the pits for a drive-through penalty that left him stranded down the field in 15th place. But he fought back to finish a creditable fifth.
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