Date: 22nd September 2013 at 5:59pm
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Sebastian Vettel completely overshadowed the opposition on his way to a dominant victory at the Singapore Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel completely overshadowed the opposition on his way to a dominant victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, taking the checkered flag over 30 seconds ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. The German was joined on the podium by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, who braved a bad back and rose from 13th on the grid to 3rd.

t the start Sebastian Vettel momentarily lost the lead to the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, however the German was unable to make the move stick as he ran wide on the exit of Turn 1. This allowed Sebastian Vettel to regain the lead of the race through Turn 2, which ultimately set the tone for what was a superior display of pace from the reigning Champion. Lewis Hamilton was also unable to hit the apex of the opening corner, as the Briton ran wide during the melee at the start.

As the field jostled for position through Turn 7 Lewis Hamilton continued to endure a tough start to the race, as the 2008 World Champion ran wide at Turn 7 yet managed to overtake the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. This in turn saw the race stewards instruct the Briton to hand the position back, which ultimately left him down in 7th after the opening few laps. After the opening lap of the race Sebastian Vettel managed to open up a competitive +4.1 second lead to Nico Rosberg in 2nd, a gap which only increased as the opening laps ticked away to +7.2 by Lap 10.

Whilst Sebastian Vettel simply cruised into the distance at the front, Kimi Raikkonen began clawing his way through the field after overtaking both Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez to 11th. The Finn soon became the first driver to make a scheduled pit-stop on Lap 10, as Fernando Alonso managed to produce the fastest lap of the race. Kimi Raikkonen was soon followed by Esteban Gutierrez and Jean-Eric Vergne in the pit-lane, as the first of the suspected three-stoppers began pitting. Throughout the next few laps both Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button also dove into the pit-lane, as the gap at the front only increased between Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

On Lap 14 Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez elected to pit, before the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were called in for an impressive double-stop a lap later. Whilst the opening pit-stops of the race ensued up and down the order, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado became locked in a grueling battle for 12th, 13th and 14th position. The trio were engaged in extremely close racing, and amazingly avoided any major collision. Nico Hulkenberg managed to overtake Sergio Perez, however the stewards deemed his pass illegal for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, which therefore forced the German to hand the position back.

After a stunning opening stint for the race leader, Sebastian Vettel finally elected to pit on Lap 17. The Red Bull mechanics once again carried out a flawless stop for the German, who unsurprisingly managed to rejoin the action with a comfortable lead over the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. Despite qualifying way down in 17th position, Paul di Resta managed to silently rise through the order to 3rd during the opening pit-stops. The Scotsman continued to circulate behind the race leaders for several laps before pitting, holding up Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in the process.

Daniel Ricciardo created the first and only safety car period of the race on Lap 25, after the Australian driver simply ran into the retaining barriers at Turn 18. The front-right suspension of the Toro Rosso was utterly destroyed, as the marshals began clearing the stricken machine. Only moments after the safety car was deployed, many drivers including Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez all pitted for fresh tyres. After five laps behind the safety car, the race was resumed on Lap 30 allowing Sebastian Vettel to once again open up a considerable lead at the front ahead of Nico Rosberg.

After a competitive performance during qualifying and a relatively decent start to the race, Romain Grosjean?s evening was destroyed on Lap 33 when the Frenchman was informed of an air consumption issue on his Lotus. This saw him return to the pits for a painstaking 40 seconds for a refill from a Renault mechanic. Although he managed to return to the action plum last, Romain Grosjean was eventually forced into a disappointing retirement several laps later,

As the race progressed, Sebastian Vettel began opening up a considerable lead once again. Further down the order Esteban Gutierrez was lucky to avoid a heavy impact with the barrier at Turns 22 and 23, after the Mexican driver ran extensively wide on the amounting marbles off of the racing line. Meanwhile Nico Rosberg was informed that he was loosing pace due to rubber lodged in his front-wing, accounting for Mark Webber who was beginning to close the gap to the German.

Several laps later more pit-stops began occurring up and down the field, as Mark Webber and Adrian Sutil pitted on Lap 40. Nico Rosberg did so a lap later, and was understandably frustrated to find Mark Webber ahead of him when he rejoined the action. Sebastian Vettel eventually pitted from the lead on Lap 44, switching back to the super-soft tyre compound and once again rejoining the action in the lead of the race.

Due largely the earlier safety car deployment, many drivers elected not to pit for a third time. This created an utterly thrilling conclusion to the Singapore Grand Prix, as the likes of Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were forced to battle their way around the likes of Esteban Gutierrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. Due to stopping during the safety car period, both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen soon found themselves in 2nd and 3rd position respectively.

As the race entered its closing stages the trio of Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton gradually began carving their way through the likes of Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg. In the process, Felipe Massa began joining them in what was a frenetic final few laps around the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Whilst many jostled for the final points-paying position, Paul di Resta ran straight on at Turn 7 and into a highly embarrassing retirement. Luckily the stricken Force India machine was cleared under double-waved yellow flags, as the Mercedes duo became locked in a ferociously tight battle for 7th.

Whilst one Red Bull cruised around to secure his 33rd victory, the other in the form of Mark Webber endured a frustrating conclusion as he was first instructed to short-shift all of his gears before then being instructed to maintain low revs due to a mechanical issue. The saw the Australian driver plummet through the order, eventually retiring with flames flicking out of the rear of his car at Turn 7 on the final lap. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel stormed to a commanding victory over Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, with Kimi Raikkonen securing an impressive 3rd despite serious back issues.

As the Formula 1 paddock prepares to pack up and head to Korea in several weeks time, Sebastian Vettel now sits a proud 60 points ahead of Fernando Alonso in the Drivers? Championship on 247 points. With the German notorious for stepping up a gear during the latter half of the season, it would be a very uneducated gamble to bet against Sebastian Vettel on securing his fourth successive Drivers? Crown.

Author: Andy Young

TWITTER: @AndyYoungF1


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