Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2018

Formula One: No speed, no chance, says Vettel

A downcast Sebastian Vettel walking past the Mercedes of Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, after finishing third in the race to fall further behind the Briton in the drivers' championship. Esteban Ocon's car being removed from the track, af
A downcast Sebastian Vettel walking past the Mercedes of Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, after finishing third in the race to fall further behind the Briton in the drivers’ championship.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
A downcast Sebastian Vettel walking past the Mercedes of Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, after finishing third in the race to fall further behind the Briton in the drivers' championship. Esteban Ocon's car being removed from the track, af
Esteban Ocon’s car being removed from the track, after he hit the wall following a collision with Force India teammate Sergio Perez on the opening lap.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A downcast Sebastian Vettel walking past the Mercedes of Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, after finishing third in the race to fall further behind the Briton in the drivers' championship. Esteban Ocon's car being removed from the track, af
The safety car in operation following the Force India incident – but not before Vettel manages to overtake Max Verstappen of Red Bull to temporarily slip into second behind Hamilton.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A downcast Sebastian Vettel walking past the Mercedes of Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, after finishing third in the race to fall further behind the Briton in the drivers' championship. Esteban Ocon's car being removed from the track, af
Yuey Tan proudly flying the Singapore flag as he represented the Novu Racing Team and won the pro-am category of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race yesterday. The 36-year-old, who spent the earlier part of the year competing in Porsche races in Europe, was taking part in his 10th race in Singapore.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Ferrari driver laments sluggish car, bungled tyre strategy also backfires as he finishes 3rd

The main ingredient is rubber. Add a dash of oil, a sprinkling of sulphur and a dash of carbon.

Lewis Hamilton opted for a stronger version of this recipe and it worked as he won the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix last night. His opponent Sebastian Vettel went for a milder variant with a disastrous outcome.

While finishing third at the Marina Bay Street Circuit was a creditable result, it did the Ferrari man's chances of winning the drivers' championship no good as Hamilton now has 281 points, 40 more than the German with six races left this season.

Vettel, 31, was puzzled why the Prancing Horse, with plenty of power and speed on tap, was unable to break the Silver Arrow as the 23-turn, 61-lap course had been expected to favour his Ferrari.

But, for the second year running, it was Hamilton who took the chequered flag.

Vettel briefly ran second having overtaken Max Verstappen on the opening lap but lost out to the Red Bull driver at the pit-stop.

"Overall we were not fast enough, didn't have the pace in the race," Vettel said. "With the way we raced, we didn't have a chance. There may be something extra in the fact that we were not quick enough…

SIMPLY NOT QUICK ENOUGH

With the way we raced, we didn't have a chance. There may be something extra in the fact that we were not quick enough… I think I said before the weekend that we can only beat ourselves, and I think this weekend we didn't get everything out of our package.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Ferrari's four-time world champion, on his car falling short of the pace required.

"I think I said before the weekend that we can only beat ourselves, and I think this weekend we didn't get everything out of our package."

Starting on the pink hypersoft tyres which were least durable but afforded the highest grip, he attempted to chase down pole-sitter Hamilton. But there was no way past the 33-year-old Briton even though the Mercedes was arguably the less powerful car.

"At the start, the plan was to get ahead of Lewis but, obviously, it didn't work. I wasn't confident I could make it to the end. It was a surprise to see the front disappearing," said Vettel.

So on lap 15, Ferrari pulled Vettel in, fitted him with ultrasoft tyres with the hope of regaining ground.

That backfired as Hamilton, now fitted with more durable soft rubber, managed to endure the rest of the race to take the chequered flag.

But Vettel refused to blame his team for the strategy.

He insisted: "I always defend the team. The decision was to try to be aggressive. If it worked, it was great. Today, it didn't work by quite a bit.

"We saw something and went for that. The car cannot be on top of everything. We were aggressive but had to go through traffic. That bid cost us to lose second. It's easy to criticise."

While he managed third, the podium place felt like a defeat of sorts for Vettel, who has to hope Hamilton slips up in the run-in.

Both men are on four world titles each (Hamilton in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017 and Vettel in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013) and another crown would move this season's champion alongside the great Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio with a quintet of championships.

Still, Vettel is not giving up, saying: "We didn't come here expecting to lose 10 points, but there are still a lot of points to score."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2018, with the headline 'No speed, no chance: Vettel'. Print Edition | Subscribe