Hamilton comes out tops in night of high-speed drama

AFTER all the tyre smoke, haze and wail of engines had eased, one thing became clear at the Marina Bay Street Circuit last night - the Singapore Grand Prix continues to excite.

The seventh edition of Formula One's only night race delivered its usual stunning visuals but had a few extras thrown in to mark the debut of Singapore Airlines as the event's new title sponsor.

A high-flying Lewis Hamilton grabbed the headlines with his second win in Singapore but it was his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, forced to retire from the race early, who will be most talked about after a drama-filled night on a humid and hazy evening.

The Mercedes duo, starting in the top two spots yesterday, were expected to give the 84,454 fans in attendance and 100 million more watching on television a duel to remember.

But Rosberg's F1W05 car suffered electronics problems, and despite it lasting 14 of 61 laps, he never recovered from the setback.

That gave bitter rival Hamilton not just the win in Singapore but also the drivers' championship lead after the Briton overtook the German to now lead 241 points to Rosberg's 238. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo took second and third place respectively.

Hamilton, who received his winner's trophy from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, said: "When I came here, I wanted to gain points. Anything more than that is a bonus.

"I dedicate this win to my fans. When we win, we win together. They lift you up so much."

Pre-race, there was concern over the haze which has blanketed the island for the past week. As the race started at 8pm, the Pollutant Standards Index reading provided by the National Environment Agency was at 58, which was in the moderate range. But the acrid smell produced by the veil of ash particles was unmistakable.

Still, it failed to put a dampener on the race weekend, with a total of 253,362 spectators - including celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay - turning up at the races as star acts such as Robbie Williams and Jennifer Lopez rocked the Padang.

From Nelson Piquet Jr's deliberate crash in 2008 to Rosberg's costly showing now, the Singapore GP has kept up its reputation of delivering. As Vettel, winner of the last three Singapore grands prix, summed up: "It is a circuit I really enjoy. The atmosphere is great but it is tough."

meng@sph.com.sg

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