Fernando Alonso kept his hopes of a third drivers’ title very much alive with victory from pole position in Sunday’s Singapore night Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver held off the challenge of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel to register his fourth victory of the season in a time of 1 hour, 57 minutes and 53.579 seconds.
Championship leader Mark Webber secured third spot in the second Red Bull followed by defending world champion Jenson Button of McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes took a blow after the Briton failed to finish for the third time in four races after tangling with Webber while attempting to overtake the Australian.
With four races remaining, Webber heads the drivers’ standings on 202 points, followed by Alonso on 191 and Hamilton on 182. Vettel is one point behind the McLaren driver with Button fifth on 177 points.
“This win means a lot in the battle for the championship, it seems that we are competitive on every track,” said the Spaniard.
“It remains very tight; all five contenders have the same possibilities.” In an eventful race, Alonso started strongly from pole, holding off Vettel going into the first corner, and never looked like being passed by any of his rivals.
“In the beginning I had to let him go a little bit,” said Vettel.
“I tried to push him as hard as I could to make a mistake but he didn’t make a major mistake.” Webber, who started from fifth on the grid, decided on a different tactic to the other championship challengers by switching on to hard tyres on lap four during an early safety car phase.
“We decided to pit. I questioned the team to start with and they said it was the right thing,” said Webber, explaining the move.
The tactic paid dividends as the 34-year-old first passed Kamui Kobayashi on lap seven before overtaking Michael Schumacher four laps later to move up to eighth.
Meanwhile, Alonso opened up a consistent three-second gap on Vettel at the front as the Red Bull driver looked to protect his brakes.
Hamilton began to lose touch in third while Button fell even further off the pace in fourth.
Vettel slowly began reducing the gap to Alonso from lap 25 onwards while Hamilton was the first of the leaders to pit on lap 29, coming out behind Webber.
Alonso and Vettel both pitted a lap later with the Ferrari driver returning ahead of the German.
The safety car returned on lap 32 after first Kobayashi and then Bruno Senna crashed at Turn 18. Normal racing resumed at the end of lap 35 with Hamilton crashing out on the next lap after tangling with Webber while looking to pass the Red Bull driver.
Incredibly, Webber sustained no damage and continued in third place while Button moved up one place to fourth.
“Unfortunately we made contact,” said Webber. “It was a key part of the race for me to keep him out. There was contact and that is not something that you want all the time.” Alonso, meanwhile, maintained his narrow lead over Vettel to take the chequered flag for the second race in succession following his win in the Italian GP at Monza.
“I just controlled the gap with Sebastian as much as I could and took a lot of precautions on the last couple of laps.” said Alonso. The 2010 F1 season continues with the Japanese GP on October 10 in Suzuka.
Keywords: Singapore Grand Prix