Hamilton wins in Singapore, Button edges closer to title 27 Sep 2009
Lewis Hamilton sorely wanted to win in Singapore after his slip up recently at Monza, and on Sunday evening he drove a pluperfect race for McLaren to deliver a richly deserved triumph.
The world champion took the lead at the start, and led throughout apart from a four lap period from 47 to 50 when Renaults Fernando Alonso went ahead before making his own final pit stop.
After a safety car period between the 21st and 25th laps had reduced his advantage after Force Indias Adrian Sutil collided with Toro Rossos Jaime Alguersuari and then collected BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld after spinning, Hamilton coped with massive pressure from Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, but it was an illusion.
The German refuelled for the second time on the 39th lap, whereas Hamilton had sufficient fuel to run through to the 46th, and thereafter all he had to do was conserve his brakes in a race that finished just before the two-hour time limit.
Behind him Jenson Button increased his world championship points lead by one point over Brawn team mate Rubens Barrichello as they finished fifth and sixth, but the final podium places were far beyond them. They fell to Timo Glock, who drove superbly on a great pit stop strategy from Toyota, and Alonso, who was in feisty form all weekend for the beleaguered Renault squad.
Vettel should have beaten both, but had to take a drive through penalty after speeding in the pit lane during his second refuelling call.
The man who was kicking himself most afterwards was Williams Nico Rosberg, a lowly 11th in a race in which he shouldered up to second ahead of Vettel at the start, and might just have challenged Hamilton later on. The German was a comfortable second when he pitted on Lap 18, but unaccountably he crossed the white line exiting the pits and plummeted after the safety car period when he too had to serve a drive-through penalty.
Heikki Kovalainen drove an undistinguished race for seventh in the second McLaren, and Robert Kubica kept his BMW Sauber ahead of a duelling Williams Kazuki Nakajima and Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps to grab the final point.
Behind Rosberg, Jarno Trulli was an overshadowed 12th in the second Toyota ahead of a lacklustre Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Ferrari, and Vitantonio Liuzzi who gathered more experience of the only Force India to finish.
Both Toro Rossos retired in the pits after fuel rig problems, caused when Alguesuari did a Massa and dragged his rig with him during his second stop after taking off before instructed by the teams lollipop man. The Spaniard was classified 15th, after ultimately succumbing to brake problems, ahead of team mate Sebastien Buemi, who went out with transmission woes.
Mark Webbers race was ruined when, having taken fourth place on the opening lap after a bold skirmish with Alonso and Glock, he was ordered to hand it back by the race stewards for running wide during the move. Later, after losing out in the pit stops, he crashed out after brake problems affected his Red Bull.
Sutils incident with Heidfeld came in Turn 14 on the 20th lap when he tagged the back of Alguersuaris Toro Rosso, which had been holding up a train of cars since the start. As the Force India spun it hit an innocent Heidfeld and both retired. Romain Grosjean was the other retirement, stopping early with suspected brake problems on his Renault.
The result leaves Button on 84 points to Barrichellos 69 with three races to go, while Vettel remains third with 59 and Webber fourth on 51.5. In the constructors stakes, Brawn have 153 points to Red Bulls 110.5, but McLaren are closing fast on Ferrari with 59 to 62.