Lewis Hamilton has vowed not to rest on his laurels despite tightening his grip on the world championship with a commanding win in Singapore.
Hamilton heads into the concluding six rounds of the season with a 40-point lead over Sebastian Vettel, who finished only third at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday.
The slow-speed temporary track was expected to be a bogey venue for Mercedes, but Hamilton’s brilliant pole lap in qualifying paved the way for victory.
On a brilliant night for Hamilton, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished ahead of Vettel following a curiously premature pit stop by Ferrari.
Hamilton, who heads to Thailand for a sponsorship commitment on Monday before taking a couple of days off, is now the overwhelming favourite to claim his fourth championship in just five years.
But the 33-year-old Briton insisted he will not be taking his foot off the accelerator with 150 points still on the table.
“I’ve been here a long, long time so I know I can’t get ahead of myself,” Hamilton said. “We have to continue to remain humble and just keep working as hard as we can.
“Right now, I just feel, job done and I’m really happy with it, but there are still lots of points available.
“With this performance, and this focus that we have as a team, I truly believe that we can deliver impactful weekends like this for the rest of the season. That is our goal.”
On his arrival in Singapore, the 33-year-old batted away suggestions that the promotion of his debut Tommy Hilfiger fashion collection in Shanghai and New York – a journey that saw him rack up a staggering 25,000 air miles in just 10 days – was something of a gamble. Here, on Sunday, he was vindicated.
“I know there were questions at the start of the week as to whether these things outside of Formula One are a distraction to me,” Hamilton said.
“I came here, and I thought, ‘Jeez, if I put one foot wrong, people are going to point to the things I do as a result of it’.
“But you can see that it doesn’t affect my performance and, if anything, those things add to the performance. The last two weeks have been intense so I am looking forward to a couple of days off.”
The Mercedes driver led from pole to chequered flag, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen more than eight seconds behind and Ferrari’s Vettel a distant third.
Here, we look at the key takeaways from Singapore.
The Briton produced a stellar performance to secure his fourth win in Singapore.
He pushed hard, stayed composed and drove solidly around Marina Bay Street Circuit, when the easy option could have been to sit back and not to take risks.
The 33-year-old controlled the race from pole and didn’t encounter any difficulty as he held off a determined Verstappen and Vettel.
Hamilton now has a seventh win this season – and the result in Singapore only strengthens his grip on a fifth world title even more.
Top marks to the Mercedes team for another flawless strategy.
It looks over for Vettel
The race was always going to be a war of tyre management. It would come down to the team and driver with the best strategy and if they could utilise the tyres the most around the sweeping Asian street circuit.
Unfortunately, Ferrari failed in their strategy calls again, by opting for the German to pit on ultra soft tyres on lap 15. He came out of the pits in P5, got held up behind Sergio Perez for a lap and then Verstappen outsmarted him from the pits on lap 21.
He didn’t seem to have pace to challenge Hamilton either on a poor tyre and struggled in the final laps when he fell a staggering 23 seconds behind second-place Verstappen.
With 40 points separating him from Hamilton in the drivers standings, it looks like his chances of a fifth world title are all but over.
Coupled with some poor team strategy and his own personal errors this season, the 31-year-old has simply buckled under the pressure of his own ambitions.
Misery for Ocon
A disappointing weekend for the 21-year-old.
With uncertainty over his F1 seat next season, a formidable finish would have put some gloss on a difficult few weeks for the talented Frenchman. But he crashed out on the first lap after a shunt from his teammate Perez.
It’s the third time this season that he has retired on the first lap, adding to previous woes in Azerbaijan and France.
The Mercedes-contracted driver is clearly one of the most gifted performers on the grid, and if he is unable to secure a seat for 2019, then expect him to return to paddock in 2020.
He is too good to be left out of the sport, but unfortunately results and internal politics have gone against him this season.
It was a sensational performance from Verstappen to collect his fifth podium of the season.
Although he would have been happier to win the race, the confidence he showed to nip ahead of Vettel after a pitstop and then attack Hamilton late in the race was remarkable.
With Hamilton’s tyres losing some fizz with 20 laps remaining, Verstappen closed the gap to 1.5 seconds at one point, but that was as close as he could get.
Still, it was a commendable second place for the 21-year-old, who is slowly looking back to his best after recent disappointments in Hungary and Silverstone.
His teammate Daniel Ricciardo could only manage to finish sixth.
The Renault duo of Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg shone in Singapore to finish eighth and 10th respectively – their sixth top-10 finish this season.
Sainz, in particular, had a solid race under the radar, leapfrogging his teammate Hulkenberg early in the race, before rising three more places to eighth.
Their five points collected in Singapore means Renault are now fourth in the constructors’ championship – 10 points ahead of Haas and 162 behind Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix with a scintillating final lap.
The 33-year-old turned on the style to claim his fourth pole at Marina Bay Street Circuit and edge out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified third with Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth.
Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg occupy the other positions in the top 10.