Hamilton Wins After Vettel's First Lap Crash in Singapore Grand Prix Shocker
The Brit expands his lead to 28 points in the drivers' championship with just six races to go.
After qualifying in fifth for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, Mercedes maestro Lewis Hamilton needed everything to go right for him, and everything else to go wrong for rival Sebastian Vettel.
Luckily for Hamilton, that's precisely what happened after the Ferrari ace suffered a first lap crash that knocked him out along with his teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen. This allowed Hamilton to fight for first on the crowded city circuit and eventually take P1 to blow his lead wide open for the drivers' title.
Vettel started on pole position with everything in his favor to begin the race. Fleets of rain throughout the night made the track damp and slick, less than ideal at Marina Bay. Seb pulled in for the squeeze against Verstappen, who started second on the grid and eventually collided with the young Dutchmen. Vettel would continue on after the crash but lost control of his car on turn three, running into a concrete barrier.
The accident not only retired Vettel, Max and Raikkonen. The unfortunate Fernando Alonso stumbled upon the accident, notching another DNF to his long 2017 season.
"If you are fighting for the world championship you shouldn’t take those risks squeezing someone that much," Verstappen explained. "You can see what happens. Lewis is leading the race and the three of us are out.
“I don’t think it was a racing incident," he added. "They took in total three cars out and I was in the middle doing nothing wrong. We’ll see what happens. I’m happy not only I retired but all three of us so we all have a bit of pain."
This opened the field for the rest of the grid with Hamilton, Ricciardo and Bottas hopping to the front of the race. Lewis was keen to surpass the first-lap mayhem and commanded the lead through a majority of the race. If it weren't for Ricciardo breaking up the podium, Mercedes could have cruised to a 1-2 finish in the race and catapulted its lead in the Constructors' Championship even further.
While Hamilton's lead is now larger than a single victory, Vettel may also have to start worrying about the other Silver Arrow pilot Valtteri Bottas. They are actually closer to each other in the standings after Sunday's race as the difference between the two was narrowed to just 23 points. Ricciardo remains in fourth place, sitting 50 points behind Bottas.
A string of delays including Toro Rosso's Daniil Kyvat and Sauber's Marcus Ericcson forced the race out on the two-hour time limit after having ran just 58 laps.
Vettel was obviously upset by the outcome of his short race, and he demonstrated as much to reporters after the race.
"There's nothing we can do now. It doesn't change much. We're not in the race now and can't show the pace that we had. I'm sure there will be more opportunities."
Hamilton, meanwhile, was elated with the luck that helped him gain his third straight victory, the 60th of his career.
"God blessed me today, for sure. I capitalized on the incident. Who would have known that will happen? Really unfortunate for the Ferraris but a great result for the team," Hamilton said.