Lewis Hamilton Walks Away With F1 Title Lead After Singapore Grand Prix Win

Lewis Hamilton now has a 40-point lead over his closest championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, who needs to pull off quite the comeback to win in 2018.

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
Clive Mason—Getty Images

Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton won the F1 Singapore Grand Prix for the second year running, extending his title lead to 40 points and increasing the pressure on title rival Sebastian Vettel.

All frontrunners made similar getaways when the lights went out, Vettel's Ferrari engine hauling him alongside Red Bull driver Max Verstappen before the first corner. A small lockup forced Vettel to back off and allowed Verstappen to keep the position in which he qualified. Further back, Force India's weekend took a bad turn, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon colliding through Turn 2, pushing the Frenchman into the wall and breaking his suspension. While Vettel squeezed past Verstappen a few corners later, the stewards activated the safety car so marshals could clear the debris from Ocon's wrecked VJM11.

During the safety car, Williams' Sergey Sirotkin made an early stop to clear a piece of Ocon's car from his front wing, switching to soft compound tires in the process in the hopes of running to the end of the race. At the end of Lap 4, when the safety car withdrew, the race restarted unceremoniously, no frontrunner making any moves on another.

Ferrari kicked off the pit stop scramble by switching Vettel to ultrasoft tires at the end of Lap 14, the German exiting ahead of Haas's Romain Grosjean, down in eighth. Hamilton responded by switching to soft tires the following lap, but he exited ahead of Perez, up in sixth. Valtteri Bottas too went for soft tires a lap later, and as he squealed away from his pit box, Vettel slithered his way past Perez.

Verstappen at last made his stop on Lap 17 to cover off Vettel's undercut, but a stuttering engine hampered his getaway and put him alongside Vettel as he exited the pits. Verstappen had the inside line, however, and Vettel played cautious, leaving feet of space, allowing the Dutchman to retain position. Vettel reveals on Lap 19 that he doesn't expect his tires to last the race, though commentators speculate the call to be a bluff.

No further action occurred until Lap 34 when Perez—struggling to pass Sirotkin—hooked left too early after getting alongside the obstructive Russian, puncturing his own left rear tire and trading floor damage with the Williams. He limped back to the pits for new tires, but he would later return again when the stewards issued a drive-through penalty (equivalent to 24 seconds) for his actions.

Hamilton complained of cold tires two laps later, and his race engineer confirmed his observation, but said that wear was not an issue. As the Brit closed on Sirotkin, Grosjean was trying to barge his way past, but to no avail. Their scrap prevented Hamilton from passing, even with blue flags waving, allowing Verstappen to close within striking distance of Hamilton. Unfortunately for Red Bull, Hamilton had an easier time getting past the dueling back marker and reopened the gap to Verstappen. Grosjean would eventually be pushed off the track by Sirotkin, but he would complete the overtake and be slapped with a five-second time penalty, as would Sirotkin for repeating the aggressive defense against Toro Rosso-Honda's Brendon Hartley.

Hamilton eventually topped the podium, flanked by Verstappen and Vettel. Verstappen was voted driver of the day, and Haas's Kevin Magnussen set the fastest lap. 

Full race results below:

  1. Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes
  2. Max Verstappen/Red Bull
  3. Sebastian Vettel/Ferrari
  4. Valtteri Bottas/Mercedes
  5. Kimi Räikkönen/Ferrari
  6. Daniel Ricciardo/Red Bull
  7. Fernando Alonso/McLaren
  8. Carlos Sainz Jr./Renault
  9. Charles Leclerc/Alfa Romeo Sauber
  10. Nico Hülkenerg/Renault
  11. Marcus Ericsson/Alfa Romeo Sauber
  12. Stoffel Vandoorne/McLaren
  13. Romain Grosjean/Haas
  14. Pierre Gasly/Toro Rosso-Honda
  15. Lance Stroll/Williams
  16. Sergio Perez/Force India
  17. Brendon Hartley/Toro Rosso-Honda
  18. Kevin Magnussen/Haas
  19. Sergey Sirotkin/Williams
  20. DNF - Esteban Ocon/Force India