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FORMULA 1 2018 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX RACE DAY ROUNDUP

Fourth Singapore win puts Hamilton streets ahead in title race

Lewis Hamilton's fifth World Championship came a whole lot closer when the Mercedes driver and his Mercedes team outsmarted Ferrari to claim another superb victory on Singapore's Marina Bay Circuit.

Starting from pole, Hamilton raced into the early lead, produced a series of super-quick laps to keep Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari at bay at pit stop time, then responded to everything Max Verstappen's Red Bull could throw at him in the closing stages to claim his fourth victory on the Singapore streets.

'Great job everyone!' yelled Hamilton on his radio as he finished the 61-lap race almost nine seconds clear of Verstappen. 'We've got these guys!' That meant Ferrari, for whom Vettel could finish no higher than third to fall 40 points behind the Englishman in the title race with six races to go.

Tyre strategies were the key to the race as Ferrari gambled on bringing Vettel in after 14 laps and putting him on to Pirelli's medium compound, the Ultrasoft, only for Mercedes to respond by calling Hamilton in next time around and putting him on to the yellow Softs, the hardest available.

Tyre strategies were the key to the race as Ferrari gambled on bringing Vettel in after 14 laps and putting him on to Pirelli's medium compound, the Ultrasoft, only for Mercedes to respond by calling Hamilton in next time around and putting him on to the yellow Softs, the hardest available.

Vettel's woes were underlined by a fine performance from Verstappen, who refused to yield to the German as he brought his Red Bull out after his pit stop and claimed second place as the two went side-by-side through the first two corners.

'Yes!' screamed Verstappen, who was then told to focus and did so well enough to keep that place and secure his first Singapore podium ahead of the disconsolate Vettel. And it might have been more: Verstappen tried valiantly to force his way past Hamilton as the two men closed in on a mid-race squabble between Sergey Sirotkin's Williams and the chasing Haas of Romain Grosjean.

Hamilton held firm, saying 'These guys are crazy,' while Verstappen used more vulgar language to vent his own frustration - and Grosjean was given a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags telling the slower cars to clear the way.

Valtteri Bottas claimed fourth for Mercedes ahead of Kimi Räikkönen in the other Ferrari, with Daniel Ricciardo's run of four straight Singapore podiums coming to an end when the Australian could bring his Red Bull home only sixth.

The race's major incident happened on the opening lap when Esteban Ocon tried to move round the outside of Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez but was edged into the wall and instantly out of the race - a move which left Ocon seething but brought no action from the race stewards.

Perez was involved once more when he caught Sirotkin, complained to race director Charlie Whiting about the Russian's blocking over the radio, then forced his way past only to cut across his bows and cause contact - a rash moment which this time earned him a drive-through penalty.

Sirotkin then blotted his own copybook, earning a drive-through penalty of his own when he pushed the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley wide as they both braked into a corner.

On a night when Hamilton's existing lap record was obliterated time and again, it was Haas's Kevin Magnussen who finally set the fastest lap of 1:41.905, an average speed of 178.860 km/h, on lap 50 - and yet the Dane was 18th of the 19 classified finishers.

Hamilton's seventh victory of 2018 is the 69th of his F1 career and puts him on 281 points to Vettel's 241. 'It felt like the longest race of my life,' he said, 'I'm glad it's over.' Perhaps the bigger race - for his fifth world title - is too.