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Ferrari and Red Bull steal the Marina Bay thunder

20 September 2015, Singapore - Sebastian Vettel served notice that the world championship is still very much alive when he stormed to the fourth Marina Bay Street Circuit victory of his career in Sunday’s 2015 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX.

Vettel, a three-time winner in Singapore with Red Bull, coped with two Safety Car periods and sustained pressure from Red Bull Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo to take his fourth Singapore win for Ferrari. It was the 28-year-old German’s third victory in his first year with the famous Italian team.

‘It was pretty intense,’ said an elated Vettel. ‘There was a bit of a breather with the Safety Car, but there was still a lot of pressure from behind. That made it a bit tactical towards the end, but I was able to look after my tyres and control the pace. But it was a great day, we had a great weekend.’ 

Ricciardo lived up to his pre-race promise of a strong showing on the Singapore streets when he took his second podium of 2015 in second place, with the Ferrari of Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen third – and not a Mercedes in sight.

‘It’s good to back it up,’ said Ricciardo. ‘I’m always careful not to be over-confident but I think the pace we showed all weekend was strong. The race pace was good: I think we matched Seb, so we’ve got to be pretty happy with this weekend.’ To confirm Ricciardo’s feeling, he set the fastest lap of 1 min 50.041 secs, an average of 165.701 kilometres per hour, on the last lap of the race.

World Champion Lewis Hamilton started from the third row but was never an actor in the Singapore drama, retiring after 33 of the 61 laps as his Mercedes-Benz’s engine lost power. 

Having already seen Vettel deny him the chance of an eighth successive pole position that would have equalled Ayrton Senna’s all-time record, Hamilton also failed in his bid to match the great Brazilian driver’s career record of 41 victories in 161 starts.

‘It hasn’t been our weekend as a team,’ admitted Hamilton, ‘but sometimes that happens.’

Teammate Nico Rosberg did make it to the finish in fourth place, carving 12 points out of Hamilton’s lead, but the 30-year-old German will now also be looking behind him since Vettel’s victory puts him only eight points behind Rosberg with six races remaining.

Valtteri Bottas recovered from a lacklustre practice and qualifying to take fifth place for Williams ahead of the second Red Bull driven by Daniil Kvyat, maintaining the young Russian’s recent run of points-scoring finishes.

Mexican Sergio Perez was seventh for Force India, who lost their other car when Nico Hulkenberg clashed with the Williams of Felipe Massa as it exited pit lane and hit the wall at Turn 3 on lap 12. 

Hulkenberg was adjudged to have caused the collision and will serve a three-place grid penalty next weekend in Japan. ‘Do I agree with the stewards’ decision?’ asked the German driver. ‘It finished my race, he’s still in the race. I was on the racing line for the corner so no, I don’t agree.’

In eighth and ninth places were two of the young stars of 2015, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso Renaults. The teenaged Verstappen surprised everyone by bouncing back after stalling on the grid and picking his way through the field – but he refused to obey an order from his team late in the race to cede the place to Sainz as they both chased Perez.

“It was an amazing race, I enjoyed it a lot!’ said the young Dutchman. After stalling at the start I thought it was over, as I was pushed to the pit-lane and then re-joined the race one lap behind… But I just kept on pushing and to finish P8 is just fantastic! My pace was great and once again I really enjoyed all the overtaking! I don’t think there was any reason for me to give up my position after going from being one lap behind to being back in the points, I think I deserved that P8.”

The final point went to another Formula One™ rookie, Brazil’s Felipe Nasr, in the Sauber Ferrari.