Huge win for Hamilton as Ferraris crash out in Singapore
Disaster for Vettel as rival takes 28-point championship lead
Lewis Hamilton took a massive step towards a fourth world drivers championship by winning the Singapore Grand Prix while his title rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out on the first lap.
Hamilton began the day as a 1-2 shot to win the championship, but is no better than 1-6 after stretching his lead over Vettel from three points to 28 with six races remaining. The Ferrari ace, who had been odds-on to win at Marina Bay, can be backed at 4-1.
Mercedes had been expected to be on the backfoot at the street circuit, and so it seemed after qualifying, with Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas only fifth and sixth on the grid.
However, a heavy rain shower minutes before the start made the track treacherous and as Red Bull's Max Verstappen, pole-sitter Vettel, and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen approached the first corner three abreast they collided and all suffered race-ending damage.
The fast-starting Fernando Alonso was also caught up in the melee.
Though the drivers finished the race on dry tyres, there was plenty more drama and three safety-car appearances before the two-hour time limit was reached with only 58 of the scheduled 61 laps completed.
Hamilton had been a top-priced 12-1 to win, but drove a near faultless race to deny 5-1 chance Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian claimed his third straight runners-up trophy in Singapore.
Bottas came home third to reward punters who backed Mercedes to score the most constructors points in the race at 16-1.
The next grand prix is in Malaysia on October 1, and the Sepang circuit is expected to suit Mercedes much better. However, the venue has a history of rain-hit races and Hamilton retired with a blown engine there last year while holding a commanding lead.
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