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Hamilton defeats Vettel as Rosberg retires

Lewis Hamilton moved into the lead of the championship with a dominant victory in Sunday night's Singapore Grand Prix, taking full advantage of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg's terminal car problems.

Staff Reporter
21 September 2014, 4:42pm
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel came home second, with Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium.

Rosberg, who held a 22-point advantage over Hamilton heading into the race, was forced to start from the pit lane after issues on his way to the grid resulted in him failing to pull away on the formation lap.

This gave Hamilton a relatively smooth run to the first corner, with Vettel jumping Ricciardo and assuming second after Alonso, who had dived across the sizeable Turn 1 run-off area, relinquished the position.

While Hamilton gradually pulled away from Vettel in the opening stint, Rosberg struggled to make inroads.

Having failed to find a way past Marcus Ericsson's Caterham with vital elements such as DRS not working, the German retired from the race at the first round of stops, when his upshift paddle failed to select a gear.

Hamilton's tyre strategy, consisting of three bursts on the Super Soft rubber and a late Soft stint, was the fastest option according to supplier Pirelli, but it almost turned sour when his main rivals made earlier switches.

Vettel and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo moved to Soft tyres at the second round of stops, while Alonso, who had briefly led Vettel as their strategies diverged, made the swap during a mid-race Safety Car period, sparked when Force India driver Sergio Pérez knocked off his front wing in a clumsy collision with Sauber's Adrian Sutil.

This meant that Hamilton had to build up an advantage equivalent to a pit-stop on ageing Super Soft rubber before his mandatory switch, a feat he appeared to achieve by lapping around two seconds per lap faster.

Despite his final pit-stop being a clean one, Hamilton rejoined behind three-time Singapore winner Vettel, but it was no major drama for the Briton, as he took just one lap to reclaim the position on much fresher rubber.

Hamilton duly romped to his seventh victory of the 2014 campaign, a result that puts him three points clear of Rosberg and atop the championship standings for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

Vettel had just enough life left in his Pirelli tyres to keep Ricciardo at bay for intra-team honours, while Alonso had to settle for fourth position, despite showing signs of fighting for much more earlier in the race.

Felipe Massa took valuable points for the Williams team in fifth, a result of even greater importance after team-mate Valtteri Bottas slid out of the top 10 positions on the final lap as he struggled with his tyres.

Having gambled on a stop after the Safety Car phase, Toro Rosso's Jean-Éric Vergne made a series of late passes to cross the line sixth, crucially getting a run in clean air to absord a penalty for exceeding track limits.

Sergio Pérez took seventh with a fine recovery, ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen and Force India team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, while McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen rounded out the points-paying places.

Jenson Button had been set to score, but pulled off the track in the closing stages after his car shut down.

In addition to Button and Rosberg, the Saubers of Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez returned to the garage with race-ending technical problems, while Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi retired on the formation lap.

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