Singapore Grand Prix 2011: Vettel wins to close in on title
Red Bull driver is now just one point from claiming back-to-back world championship titles
Sebastian Vettel moved to within one point of becoming the youngest double world champion as he produced another perfect drive to win the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver took the chequered flag by just 1.7 seconds from McLaren’s Jenson Button, giving him a 124-point lead over the 2009 world champion with just five races left.
Vettel could have won the title on Sunday, but it was always more likely that his day would come in Japan ““ a race the German has won for the last two years.
Vettel’s dominating drive was reminiscent of the way compatriot and seven-time winner Michael Schumacher secured his titles, as his team-mate Mark Webber, who finished third in the race, and Fernando Alonso, who was fourth, were both eliminated from this year’s title race.
“The car was fantastic and we were in a comfortable position for most of the race, which is pretty handy around here because it’s quite a big challenge to put the sectors together in qualifying and in the race,” Vettel said.
“I’m very pleased and it looks like we have another chance to seal the championship at the next race.”
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took fifth behind Vettel, almost 68 seconds behind, with the Briton causing more controversy as he again clashed with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on lap 12, leaving the Brazilian with a puncture.
And the 2008 world champion was handed his fifth drive-through penalty of the season after a stewards’ investigation.
Schumacher was also in the wars as he ploughed into the back of Sauber’s Sergio PÃ©rez on lap 30, bringing out the safety car and obliterating Vettel’s 22-second lead.
The 42-year-old Mercedes driver came close to flipping his car but landed on four wheels before smashing nose-first into the barrier at Turn 8.
Normal service was resumed when the safety car came in, with Vettel again building up a comfortable lead before a late charge from Button saw his cushion cut by a second a lap – but it was not enough to stop the German cruising to his ninth victory of the season.
Scotland’s Paul di Resta produced a stunning drive to finish sixth ““ his best result in his debut year ““ as Force India gambled with a two-stop strategy.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg finished seventh ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil, Massa – who recovered from his collision with Hamilton – and PÃ©rez.
Renault, who suffered their worst race of the season, were fined â‚¬10,000 for giving Bruno Senna incorrect instructions following the safety car period.
The Brazilian was told he was racing PÃ©rez, who was ahead of him on the road but the Mexican was a lap ahead, and the pair collided as Senna tried to overtake
A statement issued by the FIA read: “The team failed to inform the driver of his correct race position which led to an avoidable collision with car #17 Sergio PÃ©rez.”
The stewards also handed a reprimand to Schumacher for his collision with PÃ©rez, despite the German claiming the incident to be caused by a misunderstanding.
Singapore Grand Prix 2011 – Race result
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1hr 59mins 06.757secs
2 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:59:08.494
3 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:59:36.036
4 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 2:00:02.206
5 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 2:00:14.523
6 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 2:00:57.824
7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP at 1 Lap
8 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India at 1 Lap
9 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari at 1 Lap
10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap
11 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams at 1 Lap
12 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap
13 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams at 1 Lap
14 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari at 2 Laps
15 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault at 2 Laps
16 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps
17 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault at 2 Laps
18 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing at 2 Laps
19 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 at 4 Laps
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 at 4 Laps
21 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 5 Laps
22 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 47 Laps completed
23 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 28 Laps completed
24 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 9 Laps completed