Sebastian Vettel tightened his grip on a fourth consecutive world championship with a dominant victory under the floodlights of the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.
From pole position the German sped away in his Red Bull and would barely have had to look back had it not been for the introduction of the safety car at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. He now leads the overall drivers’ standings by 60 points with just six races to go.
But again the driver who ran him closest was Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard made an astonishing start to move up from seventh on the grid to third by the first corner and through a combination of talent, clever strategy and luck finished second to keep Vettel’s gain to the minimum.
The Ferrari driver was among those who opted to head into the pits for a tire change when the safety car was deployed on lap 24 after an accident involving Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso and the distances built up between the cars were eliminated.
At the time it cost him two positions, but it meant unlike rivals Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton, he could potentially manage his tires to avoid a third stop, allowing him to move up to second when they pitted.
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, who also pitted under the safety car, finished third in front of the two Mercedes of Rosberg and Hamilton. Alonso’s Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa was sixth.
Still in second
The Asturian driver remains in second in the overall drivers’ standings on 187 points to Vettel’s 247 and 36 in front of Hamilton.
“We didn’t know exactly how long the tires would survive,” Alonso said of his risky strategy after the race. “We were maybe not expecting that long, but we are 60 points behind the championship — if it works ‘OK,’ if it doesn’t work, maybe we don’t finish second, we finish fourth or fifth and it is nothing really.
“We were again too slow this weekend. We were not at a level we should be, so we tried different things and it paid off at the end with a fantastic second place for us which tastes like a victory.”
The season continues with the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam in two weeks’ time.