Sebastian Vettel wins Singapore Grand Prix on night of high drama

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel celebrating on top of his car after winning the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix last night. His flawless pole-to-flag victory is a record fourth in eight editions here.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel celebrating on top of his car after winning the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix last night. His flawless pole-to-flag victory is a record fourth in eight editions here. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A man venturing briefly onto the track during the race last night before climbing back out, in the first incident of a track invasion.
A man venturing briefly onto the track during the race last night before climbing back out, in the first incident of a track invasion.PHOTO: FORMULA 1'S TWITTER FEED

SINGAPORE - A shock retirement for the world champion, a win by a less powerful car, multiple crashes and in a first incident of its kind, a track invader - entertainment and controversy were not in short supply at Sunday (Sept 20) night's Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

As Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel drove a flawless pole-to-flag victory, a record fourth in eight editions here, world champion Lewis Hamilton's car packed up early for the first time this season after 34 laps. The Briton's Mercedes suffered a power loss in his engine and fading brakes.

Vettel said: "It was one of my best races. It was pretty intense.

"I was dictating the pace, it was not easy but I kept chipping away and controlled the gap. It was really a great weekend."

Meanwhile, Hamilton decided to pack it in when he realised his Silver Arrow was losing steam. "We might as well save this engine, guys - for all we know, this driving might be killing it more and more," he said.

But there was also drama on Lap 37, when a trespasser ventured onto Sector 2 of the track close to Suntec City, causing Vettel to scream on the radio: "There is a man on the track! Man on the track!" After skirting along the edge of the tarmac for a brief moment, the man climbed back over the barriers.

It was also a thrilling performance from Toro Rosso's 17-year-old Max Verstappen. His car stalled at the start and he was lapped by the entire grid, but the Dutch teenager recovered to finish eighth.

A total of 260,192 spectators attended the festivities at Marina Bay over the three days, a daily average of about 87,000. It is the third-best gate figure, bettered only by 2008 and 2013.

The only consolation for Hamilton is that he still leads the drivers' title race with 252 points, 31 ahead of his closest challenger, teammate Nico Rosberg, who was fourth. But a fast-moving red speck in his rear-view mirror bears watching.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2015, with the headline 'Vettel wins race on night of high drama'. Print Edition | Subscribe