Formula One: Vettel wins Singapore Grand Prix for fourth time as Hamilton retires

German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari celebrates after winning the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore on Sept 20, 2015.
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari celebrates after winning the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore on Sept 20, 2015.PHOTO: AFP
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (far left) of Scuderia Ferrari led from pole to finish during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore on Sept 20, 2015.
German Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel (far left) of Scuderia Ferrari led from pole to finish during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore on Sept 20, 2015.PHOTO: EPA
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP is helped by team mechanics as he retires from the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore, Sept 20, 2015.
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP is helped by team mechanics as he retires from the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore, Sept 20, 2015.PHOTO: EPA
German Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg of Sahara Force India F1 Team exits his car after crashing during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore, Sept 20, 2015.
German Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg of Sahara Force India F1 Team exits his car after crashing during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore, Sept 20, 2015.PHOTO: EPA
A man wandered onto the track during Lap 37, forcing the safety car out.
A man wandered onto the track during Lap 37, forcing the safety car out. SCREEN GRAB: FIA

SINGAPORE - Sebastian Vettel's love affair with the Singapore Grand Prix continues to show no sign of extinguishing as he coasted to victory at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday (Sept 20).

The Ferrari driver led from start to finish throughout the demanding 23-turn circuit and finished 1.4 seconds ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who improved on his third-placed finish in 2014. Kimi Raikkonen was third, another 15.7sec behind, to complete a satisfying weekend for everyone involved with the Italian team.

This was Vettel's fourth win under the floodlights in the Republic, after three consecutive triumphs from 2011-2013 and maintained his remarkable record in Formula One's only night race.

Since the inaugural edition in 2008, the German has never finished lower than fifth and has won four of the last six Singapore Grands Prix and finished second in the other two (2010 and 2014).

The four-time world champion closed the gap between himself and reigning world champion and championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who was forced to retire on Lap 33 after his Silver Arrow appeared to have technical issues.

More drama was in store later on in the evening as a man somehow made his way onto to the track, forcing the reappearance of the safety car as the drivers were forced to slow down and wait until the intruder could be removed from the track.

SCREENGRAB: FIA

Hamilton, a winner in Singapore in 2009 and last year, still leads with 252 points but the Briton has seen his advantage shrink over his Mercedes team-mate and closest challenger Nico Rosberg, who finished fourth and picked up 12 points. Rosberg now sits on 211 points.

Vettel, third in the championship on 203 points after his third win (Malaysia and Hungary earlier in 2015) of the season , has now won 42 F1 races and moved clear of Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna. He is third in the all-time list behind compatriot Michael Schumacher (91 wins) and Frenchman Alain Prost (51 wins).

That is the first time Ferrari have had both drivers on the podium this season - and only the second time that Mercedes have missed it completely.

The remaining top 10 behind Rosberg were Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull), Sergio Perez (Force India), Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso), Carlos Sainz Jr (Toro Rosso) and Felipe Nasr (Sauber).

The next race is on Sept 27 at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

jonwong@sph.com.sg