Germany's Sebastian Vettel shone in Formula One's night race, storming to victory in the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, ahead of Britain's Jenson Button and now climbs to second place in the standings, just 29 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso, who finished third.
The start gave the chance for pole sitter Lewis Hamilton to take an easy getaway, ahead of Williams driver Pastor Maldonado. But Vettel took advantage of the Venezuelan's poor start and rocketed into second behind the Englishman.
By lap 20, Hamilton had eased to a comfortable lead over the reigning world champion, only to have all his good work come to an abrupt halt three laps later, victim of a gearbox failure. Vettel assumed the lead and kept it for the rest of the race. However, the German was challenged a few laps later as HRT's Narain Karthekeyan struck the wall near the bridge part of the track, and the car being in the vulnerable spot, brought out the safety car, and gave Button the chance to restart the race in second position. As the drivers all pitted during this period, the restart a few laps later saw Vettel regain the lead, while the next victim was Maldonado, who was informed on his car radio that his hydraulic system had failed on lap 37. Once again, luck was not on his side.
When racing resumed on lap 40, Michael Schumacher suffered a brakes failure and slowed too late to avoid Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso entry, running right into the back of the Frenchman's car and scattering debris all over the track, bringing out the safety car once more. Williams problems increased as Bruno Senna, who was battling with Red Bull's Mark Webber for the last point position in tenth, had to retire on the last lap with a similar hydraulic problem as his teammate.
With the race at its maximum time of 120 minutes and one lap shorter than normal, Vettel brought his car across the line to keep himself well in contention to become the youngest driver to win three world titles by the age of 25.
"I think it is the toughest race to be honest," commented an exhausted Vettel. "It is a long, difficult two hours, and the circuit is a killer. There are so many bumps and so little space for mistakes, and we benefited from a couple of small mistakes. Generally, we had a strong pace all weekend, and a good start which got us in the hunt. I am just incredibly happy, and I would like to dedicate this to a very special man, Sid Watkins, he will be remembered for sure. He is one of the reasons why we can go out onto the circuit and enjoy ourselves and be reasonably safe. The car is still competitive and we can keep pushing for the next few races."
1 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing
2 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes
3 Fernando Alonso (SPA) Ferrari
4 Paul Di Resta (GBR) Force India
5 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes
6 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus Renault
7 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus Renault
8 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari
9 Daniel Riccardo (AUS) Toro Rosso
10 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing
World Championship Standings-
1. Alonso- 194 points