Hamilton extends championship lead as Vettel falters again

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton celebrates after taking pole at the Singapore Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton tightened his grip on securing a fifth Formula One world title by coming from nowhere to claim a stunning pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix in his Mercedes on Saturday.

Hamilton's seventh win of the 2018 season gives him a 40-point advantage over Vettel with six races remaining.

Vettel sits 30 points behind Hamilton in the championship with seven rounds remaining and described himself as his own worst enemy after losing points through driving errors throughout the season, but the German looked focused in a balanced vehicle ahead of qualifying. That was a tough race.

The result was a fourth win in five races for Hamilton, arguably all of which Vettel could and perhaps should have won himself. They are accompanied by Romain Grosjean of Haas-who out-qualified his teammate Kevin Magnussen by 1.3 seconds-and Nico Hülkenberg of Renault, who squeezed McLaren driver Fernando Alonso out of Q3 at the last minute.

Carlos Sainz Jr. did likewise to take eighth place while Charles Leclerc also adopted that strategy to score ninth - his first points since Austria.

Vettel's pass on Verstappen into Turn Seven on the first lap came just before a safety vehicle was called after Force India's Sergio Perez pushed his team-mate Esteban Ocon into the wall on the exit of the first chicane.

The German was on course to challenge Raikkonen and Hamilton's best times before he clipped the wall on the final bend, causing him to abort his lap and dart into the pits with a fluid leak.

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Ferrari led after the second and third practice on a track suited to its vehicle. It would nearly certainly give up hope of gaining track position at the time, but it would allow him a run at Hamilton on fresher tyres at the end of the race.

"The best case is to try and preserve the tyres, go long and make a one-stop work". On lap 18, Verstappen pitted for set of softs and thanks to a quick-fire stop, came out just ahead of Vettel despite being on the slower tyre, working to the advantage of Hamilton.

"There was a lot of other cars around but you can't blame it on that".

With Verstappen using the Soft Pirelli compounds over Vettel's Ultrasofts to the end of the race, Verstappen was able to pull away from the Ferrari in the latter stages of the race. The second incident of race took place on lap 34 when a frustrated Perez collided with Sirotkin, pushing the Mexican to the back of the grid.

Hamilton withstood a challenge from Verstappen as the pair threaded their way through some back markers.

Hamilton certainly came under no pressure from his main challenger in the drivers' standings and it was only during a brief period of traffic that Verstappen could get close.

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