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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Lewis Hamilton pounces on Ferrari's misfortune to win Singapore Grand Prix: 'I could not be happier'

Mercedes-GP driver opens up a 28-point lead on his main championship rival Vettel who was forced out after a collision with teammate Riakkonen and Red Bull's Verstappen

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo during the Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton went on to win the race. Edgar Su / Reuters
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo during the Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton went on to win the race. Edgar Su / Reuters

Lewis Hamilton acknowledged fortune had favoured him as he took a big step towards winning a fourth drivers’ championship after emerging victorious at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Twenty-four hours after he had said he needed a “miracle” to win after qualifying only fifth as championship rival Sebastian Vettel took pole position, things fell the Mercedes-GP man’s way in spectacular fashion at the Marina Bay Circuit as he claimed his 60th win in F1.

Vettel was eliminated in a collision at the start after he was struck by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who had lost control after making contact with the Red Bull Racing car of Max Verstappen.

The latter pair were out on the spot, while Vettel’s heavily damaged Ferrari spun around on the exit of Turn 2 and pulled over to retire from a race for the first time in 2017.

Hamilton inherited the lead and and would never relinquish it, dominating in the wet after the race had begun in damp conditions after a rain storm before the start, and then in the dry as the race progressed.

The Briton now leads Vettel by 28 points with six races remaining in the championship.

“We were fortunate with what happened with the Ferraris at the beginning but I could not be happier," he said from top spot on the podium, a position he has stood on three times now at the Marina Bay circuit.

“I capitalised on the incident. Who would known what would happen?”

Vettel, who was due to speak to race stewards along with Verstappen and Raikkonen about their coming together, told reporters: “I saw Max and then the next thing I see is Max and Kimi hitting me somewhere.”

Of the damage the incident had done to his chances of a fifth world title and a first with Ferrari, he added: “It doesn’t change much. Obviously we are not in the race and can’t show the pace we have.”

Verstappen blamed Vettel for the collision, believing the German had not given him and Raikkonen enough space.

“Sebastian started squeezing me,” the Red Bull driver said. “Maybe he did not see Kimi on the left but that is not an excuse. He shouldn’t take those risks.”

There were three safety car periods in total, but Hamilton led every lap as he proved too strong for the surviving Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who was second in Singapore for the third successive year.

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Valtteri Bottas was third in the second Mercedes, with the high attrition rate at the front allowing Toro Rosso and Renault to record their best results of the season with Carlos Sainz Jr home in fourth and Jylyon Palmer sixth respectively. The Force India of Sergio Perez finished fifth.

The next round of the season is in Malaysia on October 1.

Drivers’ championship standings after Singapore:

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 263
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari - 235
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - 212
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull - 162
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - 138
6. Sergio Perez, Force India - 68