Vettel takes comfortable victory in Singapore

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Sebastian Vettel has claimed his ninth victory of the season in Singapore and has almost clinched his second successive world championship.

As Jenson Button finished second, Mark Webber third and Lewis Hamilton fifth, the German is only one point away from a back-to-back world championship win.

Three of his pursuers are now out of the title race, leaving only Button mathematically able to overhaul him, but this would require the McLaren man to win all of the remaining races, while Vettel was scoring zero points each time.

The reigning champion was unassailable right from the start in Singapore, immediately building a clear lead from turn one.

What might otherwise have developed into a quiet Sunday drive was spiced up by the usual Singapore safety car deployment. This was triggered by Michael Schumacher and Sergio Perez on lap 29.

The record title winner was shaping up to pass the Mexican and was looking to make his move on the inside. Perez, who was covering the track ahead of him, then seemed to lift off the accelerator, causing Schumacher to mount his rear right wheel and take a flyer.

The Mercedes driver was a passenger from then on, slamming into the barrier and ending his race prematurely. Fortunately, he emerged from the smash apparently none the worse for wear.

Vettel's position was not compromised by the safety car. Like the majority of the pursuing pack, he used the opportunity to absent himself briefly from the track for a fresh set of tyres. Although his 20-second lead was drastically cut back, he steadily rebuilt it and then successfully eked it out towards the end of the race as Button mounted a late challenge.

Alonso was the only front-runner not to stop under safety car conditions, which allowed Webber to snatch the third podium spot – the Australian was able to use his fresh tyres at the end of the safety car period to overtake and then cruise off into the distance.

Meanwhile, there was frenzied action in the midfield, with no fewer than four drivers contesting the fifth place. Last in the group was Hamilton who had got off to a poor start and then collided with Felipe Massa.

This not only cost him part of his front wing but also time, as he was hit with a drive-through penalty. Which meant he had to work his way back up the field all over again. When he caught up with the pursuing group, he passed Sutil, Rosberg and di Resta in quick succession to take P5 before having to make yet another pit stop – and then had to repeat the whole process from scratch.

He eventually finished fifth having overtaken Perez for good measure too. Di Resta hung on to cross the line in sixth place ahead of Rosberg, Sutil, Massa and Perez.