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26 Sep 2011

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory in an incident-packed Singapore Grand Prix to move to the brink of the world title.

The German's ninth victory in 14 races means he needs just a point from the remaining five races to seal the title.

The only man who can mathematically beat him is Jenson Button, who finished second ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fourth from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who recovered from a drive-through penalty.

Force India's Paul di Resta drove superbly on his debut at one of the toughest races on the calendar and the Scot took an impressive sixth place.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won a breathless battle for seventh place in the closing laps from Force India's Adrian Sutil, who just held off Ferrari's Felipe Massa after the Brazilian passed Sauber's Sergio Perez for ninth at the start of the last lap.

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard said: "He's got a great car and a great team, but how he is using it. It's fantastic what we're seeing this year."

It has been a story of almost total domination by the reigning champion, and this grand prix encapsulated it.

Vettel stormed off from pole position and had a 4.4-second lead over Button after three laps. He extended it to 12 seconds before the drivers made their first pit stops - which was on lap 14 for the two leaders - and kept it there for the rest of the race until easing off towards the end.

Button closed on him rapidly as the chequered flag neared, but the illusion of a race was just that - Vettel was in control.

A safety car introduced after Michael Schumacher's Mercedes was launched into the air after running into the back of Perez had no impact on Vettel. Schumacher emerged unhurt from his wrecked car.

With Button held up behind Jarno Trulli's lapped Lotus at the restart, Vettel again left his pursuers standing and was a massive 8.9 seconds clear after just one lap following the resumption of racing.

"When the safety car came out it didn't really fit to our plan because we had a big gap," said Red Bull's defending world champion.

"I was quite lucky there was some backmarkers because I was able to pull a big gap again, that was lucky because towards the end there was traffic and it is not that easy to get through. I love the track, I love the challenge, so great. The car was fantastic.

"Last year was a tough fight with Fernando all the way, shadowing him, I felt I could have gone a bit quicker, so it was nice to come back here and get the job done."

Button's race was spent controlling the margin behind him to Webber, who had to pass Alonso twice to take third place.

"Pretty happy to be second," said Button. "I couldn't really find the grip with the car. I needed to find a pace that was comfortable in the car and not damaging the tyres too much.

"The pace was pretty good but there was no catching Seb. Second is as good as it can be. "

Webber took Alonso's Ferrari with a cleverly worked moved into Turn 15, after challenging the Spaniard on the outside into the previous corner.

After losing the place again when stopping during the safety-car period, Webber then surprised Alonso into Turn 10 after the Ferrari driver was held up by the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari.

"The battles with Fernando are enjoyable, but I don't want to sign up for them all the time because it means I'm with him when I probably shouldn't be," Webber said.

"Ultimately it cost me a place today but Button put in a very good last stint so that would have been a good battle if I had had track position."

It was another eventful race for Hamilton in what has been an unhappy season for the 2008 world champion.

Hamilton, who started fourth behind Vettel, Webber and Button, lost ground at the start, because he had to back out of an attempt to pass the slow-starting Webber.

That dropped Hamilton to eighth place and in his attempt to come back through the field, he collided with Massa when refusing to give up a move around the outside of Turn Seven that was never going to come off.

Hamilton damaged his front wing in the incident, while Massa's rear tyre was punctured. That meant Hamilton needed to pit for a new wing, but he also then received a drive-through penalty, which left him stranded down the field in 15th place.

Coulthard added: "It was just a bit clumsy from Lewis unfortunately. I was talking to Lewis this morning about street tracks and I said: 'You sit very low in car, do you get enough visibility?'

"He said: 'Although I sit low the visibility is fine'. But I wonder if he's missing out in close-quarter racing by sitting so low."

After his earlier indiscretion, Hamilton was initially dispirited as he fought with the lower midfield, and asked his team over the radio: "Would you please give me some info on how I'm doing, what I'm racing for?"

He was reassured that he was still fighting for points, and fought back in clinical style - and with the help of the safety car - up to fifth place by the end of the race.


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