• Singapore Grand Prix

Supreme Vettel secures victory

ESPNF1 Staff
September 25, 2011

Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, holding off a late charge from Jenson Button whose second place ensured the title hunt will stay alive for at least another round.

Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are now all mathematically out of the running after finishing third, fourth and fifth on the streets of Singapore. Button was the only man to take the fight to Vettel but the champion elect's concentration never wavered and he was rewarded with his ninth victory of the season.

He led comfortably from the start of the race, extending his advantage at more than a second a lap through the early stages. He then responded to the potential danger of a safety car period by pulling out a similarly impressive lead at the restart before defending from Button's late charge over the final ten laps.

The McLaren was within 1.7s of Vettel at the chequered flag after pushing hard on supersoft tyres and trying to take advantage of backmarkers. However, closing the gap was one thing while actually passing Vettel would have been another challenge entirely and in the end the Red Bull never looked under serious threat. Webber was 27.5s behind Button in third, with Alonso another 26.1s down the road in fourth.

Hamilton battled back to fifth following a clash with Felipe Massa which earned him a drive-through penalty. The collision happened as Hamilton attempted to pass Massa into turn seven and clipped his front wing against the Ferrari's right-rear. The McLaren's front wing decimated on impact and Massa was left with a puncture which ruined his race. After the race Massa made his feelings known to the press and was clearly frustrated with his eventual ninth place finish. Ahead of Massa, Paul di Resta took his best result of the season in sixth after a fantastic drive in which he outpaced Nico Rosberg in seventh and Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil in eighth.

Sergio Perez took the final point in tenth but only after a dramatic race that saw him involved in the incident that brought out the safety car. Varying pit stop strategies meant the Sauber was fighting with the Mercedes cars on lap 27 and Perez seized on the opportunity to pass Rosberg when he ran wide coming out of the final corner. Rosberg fought back with an aggressive pass heading into turn one and punted Perez across the run off area in the process. The Sauber dropped into the clutches of Schumacher behind and, lacking grip under acceleration, Schumacher clipped its rear exiting turn eight. The contact pitched the Mercedes into the air and then the barriers, bringing an instant end to Schumacher's race, who was unharmed and bringing out the safety car.

The caution period cut deeply into Vettel's lead, but with a couple of backmarkers between him and Button, his lead was not under threat at the restart. Jaime Alguersuari also had an accident two laps from the end of the race, but double waved yellows at turn 18 prevented the safety car making another appearance.

Towards the back of the field Renault's disappointing weekend continued with Vitaly Petrov finishing behind the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen. Bruno Senna finished 15th but it was a fall from grace from the promise the team has shown at the last two races.