Lewis Hamilton did one of his most impressive drives winning the Singapore grand prix.
Hamilton, who started fifth after struggling in qualifying, was leading within four corners after Vettel collided with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at the start.
The race started competitively, Verstappen starting second, made a better start than Vettel did from pole, but both were out-done by Raikkonen, who moved to the inside and was soon edging ahead of the Red Bull.
Not knowing his team-mate was there, Vettel veered aggressively across the track to defend from Verstappen, leaving the Dutchman nowhere to go.
Verstappen tried to edge left to avoid Vettel, but he and Raikkonen touched, the Finn spun and collected his team-mate.
Fernando Alonso goes flying – an innocent victim in the first-corner madness
Raikkonen slid sideways down the track and hit Verstappen broadside at the first corner, the two careering into Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, which was briefly up to third place behind Vettel and Hamilton and ahead of Ricciardo as he took his usual outside line at the first corner.
Alonso’s car was launched, and spun in mid-air, damaging his floor and side-pod and leading to his retirement after a few slow laps.
Vettel, who was in scintillating form in taking pole on Saturday, tried to continue, but his car was badly damaged, its front wing missing and fluid leaking from the rear.
This caught him out as he accelerated out of Turn Three, and he spun into the wall after losing grip on his car’s own fluids at Turn Four. He was told to retire before getting halfway around the first lap.
It was the first time Ferrari has retired both cars on the first lap, ever
But the Briton managed to avoid the chaos on the run to the first corner and slotted into the lead ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian would have been expected to challenge Hamilton, Red Bull have had a clear pace advantage over Mercedes.
But Hamilton began reeling off fastest laps, and he ran to only 58 of its scheduled 61 laps because of the two-hour time limit.
It could be a defining moment in the championship as Vettel was expected to re-take the lead at a track on which Ferrari had an advantage over Mercedes.
Instead, Hamilton heads into the final six races of the season with a 28-point advantage.
– Asuzu A I VON