AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Cars come down the straight at the start of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22:Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull leads Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP into turn three during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Red Bull-Renault driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (bottom R) leads the pack at the start of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Red Bull-Renault driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (R) leads the pack at the start of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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  • Red Bull-Renault driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (L) leads in front of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (R) during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Lewis Hamilton of Geat Britain and Mercedes GP drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus GP drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (R) powers his car during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Scuderia Toro Rosso drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: The wrecked car of Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Scuderia Toro Rosso is recovered after crashing into a barrier during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: A dejected Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Scuderia Toro Rosso reacts after crashing into a barrier during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany drives behind the safety car during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Lotus driver Romain Grosjean of France drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Williams driver Pastor Maldonaldo of Venezuela drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany powers his car during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • McLaren-Mercedes driver Sergio Perez of Mexico (bottom R), Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (C) and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa of Brazil (top L) race during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MOHD FYROL (Photo credit should read MOHD FYROL/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Caterham driver Giedo Van Der Garde of the Netherlands drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Paul di Resta of Great Britain and Force India drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Mark Webber of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull racing is followed by Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus GP during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • McLaren driver Sergio Perez Mendoza of Mexico drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany drives during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
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  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain rounds a corner during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari drives during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • McLaren-Mercedes driver Sergio Perez of Mexico (bottom R), Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (C) and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa of Brazil (top L) race during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MOHD FYROL (Photo credit should read MOHD FYROL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain powers his car during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLare is followed by Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Sauber F1 during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
  • Image Credit: Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (R) powers his car during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (R) drives ahead of Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain (L) during the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 21: Paul di Resta of Great Britain and Force India drives during practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 21, 2012 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 21: ANico Hulkenberg of Germany and Sauber F1 drives during qualifying for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 21, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 21: Mark Webber of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull drives during qualifying for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 21, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull takes the chequered flag and victory during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: of Spain and Ferrari after his engine blew up during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull racing celebrates following his victory during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull racing celebrates following his victory during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull racing celebrates following his victory during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1-PODIUM
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  • Winner Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (C) greets second-placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain (L) while third-placed Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland (R) looks on during the awards ceremon on the podium at the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • F1 Grand Prix of Singapore
  • SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Fernando Alonso (2nd place) of Spain and Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel (1st place) of Germany and Red Bull Racing and Kimi Raikkonen (3rd place) of Finland and Lotus celebrate on the podium following the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1-PODIUM
  • AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1-PODIUM
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel (2nd R) of Germany celebrates his victory on the podium between third-placed Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland (R) and second-placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain (L) after the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on September 22, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix is the Monaco GP of the Orient – a weekend known more for its glamour and time-slot than on-track action, with a temporary circuit that punishes every mistake, usually terminally.

Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas got the best of Free Practice 1, opening the curtain on a possible resurgence of Silver Arrows performance. By the time qualifying was done, though, it was his teammate Nico Rosberg who lined up second on the grid, followed by Romain Grosjean with a beautiful performance in the Lotus, Mark Webber in the Infiniti Red Bull, and Hamilton all the way back in fifth. Behind them were Felipe Massa outqualifying Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button getting the McLaren into eighth, Daniel Ricciardo with another good Q3 effort to get into ninth, and the shocker of Esteban Gutiérrez getting his Sauber into the top ten for the first time this year.

At the front of the pack was Sebastian Vettel. Again. But he was only ahead of Rosberg by a single tenth of a second...


We might as well get this part out of the way right now: in spite of his proximity to Rosberg, Vettel steamrolled the field from the Free Practice 2 until the end of the race. On Friday Kimi Räikkönen said Vettel couldn't be touched. Hamilton said Vettel couldn't be touched. Alonso offered his customary code for 'Vettel can't be touched,' which is some twist on 'We have better race pace, we'll just have to do our best and see what happens.' Button said Vettel was "playing another game."



The timing differences between Vettel and the rest were so big they looked like typos. You could not have treated the other drivers any worse if you had thrown them over the wall into the polar bear pen at the zoo. At one point, when Rosberg in second place decided he was going to try to nurse his tires, Vettel was told to go for it and started putting 2.5 seconds per lap into the chasers, building up a cushion so he could pit without fear of being passed. Two-point-five seconds in 3.47 miles, on the best drivers in some of the most advanced cars in the world. When he wasn't trying, he was only lapping a second per lap faster than everyone else. On super soft tires, which the Infiniti Red Bull chassis supposedly doesn't like. And he made them last for 18 laps, at which point his lead was more than 36 seconds.

So the short story is: he won.



Behind him, Rosberg led the race for about six seconds at the start, keeping the nose of his Mercedes in front all the way to the second turn. That's when he overcooked it and ran wide, letting Vettel back into the lead. He would slowly work his way backward, and over the last third of the race, on Lap 45 when he was in ninth place and being trailed by his teammate, he it seemed like he didn't want to be there. His performance dropped off and when his team told him to fight to the end, he asked, "Why do I have to fight?" When teammate Hamilton started climbing all over the back of him on lap 55, Rosberg came alive and spent the last few laps of the race passing runners in front whose tires had gone off. He would finish fourth, just ahead of Hamilton.



If we were to nominate two more excellent drives behind Vettel, they'd go to the other men on the podium. Alonso, who started seventh on the grid, gained four places by the first corner. The Safety Car came out on Lap 25 because Ricciardo speared his Toro Rosso into the wall at Turn 18, keeping Singapore's Safety Car appearance record at a solid 100 percent. Good pit strategy by Ferrari during the caution had Alonso out behind two cars that hadn't pitted, so he eventually moved up to second behind Vettel. That's where he'd finish, yet again doing more with the Ferrari than most would expect from it. His teammate Massa finished sixth.

Räikkönen took the final step. The Finn suffered from back problems during the lead-up to the race and qualified in 13th, but almost didn't contest the event. Even though he was in pain during the race he carved his way through to third by the end. An on-the-fly pit strategy change after being bottled up behind McLaren of Sergio Perez, the Lotus' usual good treatment of its tires and the fading of late runners in front were all factors in his excellent run. He also pulled off another terrific pass, going around the outside of Button through Turn 14 on Lap 54.



Otherwise, Lotus has had a terrible week. Räikkönen announced his departure over money issues and then fell out of qualifying in Q2, Grosjean was looking to be Lotus' standard bearer – and put in a good drive to help his own future – and probably could have had a podium, but when the pneumatic air valve system on his Renault engine failed his race was done on Lap 40.

One day the F1 version of Deep Throat is going to write a book that explains the pre-race rites and rituals that were used to curse Webber's car. Maybe this mole will even tell us which aboriginal Aussie gods Webber pissed off. On Lap 4 Webber was told to look after his tires, keep a two-second gap to Alonso in front and make sure to keep Grosjean behind. Quick pit stops saw him leapfrog other drivers, and good late-race pace had him in fourth place on Lap 56 and putting in good times. Then the call came from the pit wall on Lap 57 telling him to short-shift. One lap later he was being told to short-shift in all gears even earlier than he was doing. A lap later he was being told to "just get the car to the finish." A lap after that, the penultimate lap of the race, his engine was on fire and he was pulling his car over. Alonso gave Webber a ride back to the pits after the race finished, Webber riding the sidepods like we've seen other racers do in the past. The stewards weren't impressed and slapped Webber with a 10-place grid penalty at the next race in Korea. Slapped him hard, they did.



The rest of the top ten was Button in seventh, who had looked so close to a podium in the final part of the race, Perez right behind him, also swamped by cars behind due to worn-out tires, Nico Hülkenberg doing another excellent job in the Sauber and Adrian Sutil getting some points for Sahara Force India after teammate Paul di Resta – who had been running in tenth – parked his car in the barriers on Lap 55 at Turn 7.

Career victory number 33 for Vettel puts him one ahead of Alonso, eight behind Ayrton Senna and 60 points in front of the Ferrari driver in the championship: Vettel has 247, Alonso 187. It was Vettel's third victory in a row and the third year in a row he's won the Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton, in third with 151, has given up the title chase and is now gunning for Alonso's second spot.



Ferrari actually closed the gap to Infiniti Red Bull in the Constructor's Championship by a single point because it had two cars finish in the points, while Webber's car hates finishing at all. The reigning champs are on 377 points, Ferrari on 274, Mercedes just a single decent finish in arrears at 267.

In Korea in two weeks we'll see if anyone can do anything about the Infiniti Red Bulls. According to the odds in Vegas, every fortnight the answer is increasingly "No."

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