Advantage Hamilton

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SINGAPORE — Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday in dominant fashion to increase his F1 championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 40 points with just six races remaining.

The Mercedes driver led from pole to chequered flag, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen more than eight seconds behind and Ferrari’s Vettel a distant third.

“Great job everyone, what a weekend,” said Hamilton on team radio immediately after winning at the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the second year running. “Keep pushing — we’ve got this guys.”

A unique set of challenges makes the steamy track in the heat and humidity of Singapore’s tropical climate the toughest physical test of the season.

The duration of the race, with each of the 61 laps of the 5.063km track having 23 bends and 80 gear changes — more than any other on the F1 calendar — means that drivers and machinery are worked to breaking point.

“I’m spent. It felt like the longest race of my life so I’m glad it’s over,” said Hamilton when interviewed on track. “Max put up a great fight as well — but what a day, what a weekend.”

Hamilton got the perfect start from pole position as Verstappen was slower away from second on the dirty side of the grid and saw his Red Bull come immediately under pressure from Vettel.

The German four-time world champion used his superior Ferrari power to outdrag Verstappen down Raffles Boulevard and just managed to nip past the Dutchman before the safety car brought a temporary halt to hostilities on the first lap for the third year in succession in Singapore.

It was prompted by a collision between the Force Indias that put Esteban Ocon into the wall and out of the race after a sideswipe from teammate Sergio Perez.

Hamilton controlled the restart four laps later to sprint away more than a second clear of Vettel.

Vettel was first to pit for ultrasoft tyres, but it soon looked an ill-judged move as he rejoined behind the slower Force India of Perez.

Hamilton pitted on the next lap, but he crucially opted for the soft compound that had been predicted to last until the end.

Vettel’s frustration increased as Hamilton rejoined in front and then boiled over as Verstappen jumped him when he too pitted for softs.

There’s “no chance” of winning, Vettel moaned over team radio.

“We were too late again,“ he bawled. “These tyres will not make it to the end.” — AFP