Even at the fourth visit to Singapore, the sight of 24 cars shining under spotlights on the Marina Bay grid is still one of the most breathtaking spectacles on the F1 calendar. Unfortunately, the two hour race that followed was not as exciting as so many of this year’s contests, nor was it a great night for Scuderia Ferrari: Fernando Alonso fought bravely to finish fourth, having been a podium contender for much of the evening. Felipe’s run of bad luck continued, as his race was ruined by an impulsive move from Hamilton – punished with a drive-through penalty – which meant the Brazilian had to make an extra stop with a puncture and then fought his way up from the back of the field to ninth at the flag.
Sebastian Vettel, continued his dominating ways to take his ninth win of the year. Joining him on the podium in second place was Jenson Button for McLaren, with Mark Webber taking third in the other Red Bull. At the start, Vettel led from pole, but a bad getaway from Webber saw Button go second and Fernando third, while Felipe made up one place to fifth, followed by Rosberg, and Schumacher who both got past Hamilton who dropped from fourth to eighth. On lap 4 Hamilton passed Schumacher for seventh, and set out to chase down Rosberg in the other Mercedes, while Fernando was 0.6 behind Button, 5 seconds behind the leader. Massa was 7.6 off the lead Red Bull. Lap 5 and Hamilton passed Rosberg to take sixth place.
On lap 6, Webber was the Red Bull meat in a Ferrari sandwich as the Australian tried to close on Fernando, with Felipe pushing hard to get near enough to try and use the DRS system to pass. One lap later it was Webber who had got under the 1 second gap necessary for DRS use on Fernando. On lap 9, Webber was only 0.5 behind Fernando, and Felipe had dropped off Webber’s rear wing but now had to contend with Hamilton’s McLaren filling his mirrors. Rosberg was the first to change tyres, pitting on this lap. Lap 10 and after a couple of corners running wheel to wheel, Webber finally passed Fernando who dived into the pits for fresh rubber, followed down pit lane by Schumacher.
Felipe and Hamilton came in together on lap 11 and left the pits in the same order. The Englishman tried a rash passing move on the Brazilian, removing part of the McLaren wing and puncturing the Ferrari’s right rear tyre which meant another pit stop dropped him way down the order, while Hamilton continued with part of the front wing missing until he limped in the pits on lap 13. He was given a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable accident – no consolation for Felipe who had plummeted to 20th place.
At the front, it was Vettel, Button, Di Resta, Perez all yet to stop with Alonso fifth. Then on 14, Vettel and Button both came in and one lap later Fernando passed Perez. Vettel was way out in front of Button, with Di Resta, the only man not to have pitted in third in front of Fernando, slowing the Spaniard considerably,until he got past on lap 19 to go third, 15 seconds behind Button.
Further back, Felipe was trying to regain places, passing Buemi on lap 21 to go up to twelfth. In fourth place, Webber had upped his pace, lapping a second faster than the Spanish Ferrari driver so the gap between them came down to one second on lap 21. Two laps later and the gap was only 0.6. Lap 25 and Schumacher was the first of the front runners to make a second scheduled stop from fifth place, followed down pit lane by Fernando, who had enough of an advantage over the Force India battle for fifth between Sutil and Di Resta to maintain fourth place.
On lap 30, the Safety Car came out as Schumacher rammed the back of Perez as he tried to pass the Sauber, launching the Mercedes into the barriers. Webber pitted immediately, followed soon after by Di Resta, Sutil, Rosberg, Perez, Hamilton. Vettel came in from the lead with Button following him down pit lane. As the cars followed the Safety Car, Vettel still led Button, with Fernando third, although several back markers were in the mix, with Felipe just outside the points in eleventh. The SC came in at the end of lap 33 and Fernando had no slower cars behind to protect him from Webber, the Australian getting past as the two men ran into traffic. The Safety Car had definitely not helped the Ferrari cause today. Behind Alonso came a fantastic battle for fifth with Di Resta, Rosberg, Sutil and Hamilton all within a second, as Felipe finally hoisted himself back into the points zone in tenth. Hamilton was now on a charge, the McLaren man dispensing with Rosberg and harrying Di Resta for fifth on lap 39, getting past and setting off in pursuit of Fernando. Felipe made his fourth visit to pit lane on lap 42, which dropped him back to 13th.
Lap 47 and Webber was the first of the leaders to three stop, rejoining fifth behind Hamilton and with the advantage of new tyres, he soon got past the McLaren, as Button made his last tyre stop on lap 48,with Hamilton also coming in. Lap 49 saw Vettel come in from the lead, followed by Fernando, but the activity in the pits had no effect on the order of the top four. And so they carried onto the flag, with no change in the order, even if Button ate into Vettel’s lead. Five more races, five more chances to secure a win for the Prancing Horse. The battle resumes in two weeks at one of the calendar’s iconic venues, Suzuka circuit in Japan.