Vettel wins fourth Singapore GP in style as teammate Raikkonen finishes third
The 2015 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix last night was marked by two collisions, a two-time deployment of the safety car, and a bizarre incident of an intruder briefly strolling on the track.
At the end of it all, nothing could stop Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel from claiming his third victory since his move to the Prancing Horse earlier this year, after claiming the chequered flags in Malaysia and Hungary.
Starting in his first pole position in Ferrari colours, the 28-year-old four-time world champion led from start to finish in a masterful drive to claim an unprecedented fourth victory in eight editions of the Singapore night race.
As fireworks lit the night-time sky and amid congratulatory hugs and slaps on his back, the German patted his Prancing Horse as if to say "well done, my steed".
Vettel said: "It must be one of my best races. It was pretty intense. Lots of pressure from behind, Daniel (Ricciardo) had a very good race looking after his tyres, and made it tactical towards the end.
"In the second stint, I was dictating the pace. From then, I was trying to control the gap.
"Friday was not perfect, but we improved the car overnight. We picked up so much pace yesterday and I was able to look after my tyres tonight."
"All in all, it was a perfect weekend," added Vettel, who claimed his 42nd career victory to surpass the late Ayrton Senna's record of 41 wins.
Vettel has also equalled F1 legend Michael Schumacher's record of three wins in his maiden season with Ferrari in 1996, after the Singapore race.
Red Bull's Ricciardo and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen started the race last night in second and third, and maintained their positions at the end of the race.
Ricciardo was satisfied with the result, but felt he could have had a go at overtaking Vettel if not for the presence of the safety cars.
The 26-year-old Australian said: "If there was no safety car, we could have been close for the undercut, but the two safety cars came at pretty crucial times.
"It was really good to back up our qualifying results. We matched Seb in race pace and we have got to be pretty happy with that."
Given the difficulties he had faced with his car in Singapore, Raikkonen was surprised to qualify in third, and finish in the same position.
The Finn said: "I didn't expect much today... it was a struggle again today, but we had enough speed to finish third.
"It was a bad few days, to it was nice for the team to finish third."
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg started in sixth but finished fourth, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire midway through the race due to multiple issues with his car (see S13).
With the result, reigning world champion Hamilton's lead over Rosberg in the drivers' championship has been cut to 41 points, while Vettel is just eight points further adrift in third.
The results here have given Vettel some hope of catching Hamilton, although he felt that the Silver Arrows' showing in Singapore was an exception, not the norm.
Vettel said: "If we have more weekends like this, yes we can catch Mercedes. Massive attack.
"Maybe we can make the impossible possible - we will definitely go for it."
The highs and lows
1. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel wins the 42nd race of his career to draw within eight points of Mercedes' second-placed Nico Rosberg on the overall drivers' standings.
2. Race disrupted by a man on the track, prompting a safety car intervention.
3. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton retires for the first time this season, after suffering "multiple issues".
4. Collision between Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg knocks the German out of the race and also brings out the safety car.
5. Seventeen-year-old Max Verstappen fights back from last to eighth, after refusing Toro Rosso orders to yield to his teammate Carlos Sainz.
6. Only 14 drivers finish as six cars are forced out on the bumpy, technical street circuit.
SINGAPORE GP RESULTS
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 2hr 1min 22.118sec
2. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) at 1.478
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) at 17.154
4. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) at 24.720
5. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) at 34.204
6. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) at 35.508
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) at 50.836
8. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) at 51.450
9. Carlos Sainz Jr (Toro Rosso) at 52.860
10. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) at 1:30.045
TOP 5 STANDINGS
1. Lewis Hamilton 252 points
2. Nico Rosberg 211
3. Sebastian Vettel 203
4. Kimi Raikkonen 107
5. Valtteri Bottas 101
1. Mercedes 463 points
2. Ferrari 310
3. Williams 198
4. Red Bull 139
5. Force India 69