• Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso holds off Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel
• Mark Webber increases championship lead to 11 points
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari took his third victory in five races at the Singapore grand prix today. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, however, endured another frustrating day in his attempt to regain the world title.
Alonso held off Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull to win an incident-packed race and boost his chances of a third Formula One drivers’ title. The championship leader, Mark Webber, finished third in the second Red Bull to increase his lead in the title standings from five to 11 points with four races remaining. The Australian was unscathed by a collision with Hamilton that forced the Briton to retire.
Webber now has 202 points, Alonso has 191 and Hamilton has 182. Vettel has 181 points and the reigning world champion, McLaren’s Jenson Button, who finished fourth today, has 177. Twenty-five points, the reward for a victory, separate the top five.
Alonso won the first Singapore race for Renault in 2008 after his team-mate, Nelson Piquet Jr, crashed in order to bring out the safety car and help the Spaniard win.
The safety car was deployed today but Alonso, starting aggressively from pole position, drove a brilliant race to hold off Vettel for 61 laps around the floodlit Marina Bay circuit. After an almighty last-lap tussle, the Spaniard crossed the line 0.2 seconds ahead of the German.
Starting the race in fifth, Webber gambled on an early pit stop, during the first safety car period after three laps, and then worked his way through the field for a well-earned third-place finish.
Hamilton retired for the third time in four races. The Briton thought he had passed Webber on turn seven, following the second safety car period, but he was broadsided by the Australian going into the straight.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Hamilton said. “He was in my blind spot so I didn’t even know he was still there. All I know is I went in, I didn’t see anyone alongside me and the next thing I know is my tyre has blown and that’s it.”
The race ended with Heikki Kovalainen steering his flaming Lotus to the side of the finishing straight. With smoke and flames billowing behind him, the Finn jumped out and grabbed an extinguisher that was handed through the wire mesh, to put out the fire himself as cars raced past.