Britain's Lewis Hamilton admits he was fortunate to claim victory after benefiting from title rival Sebastian Vettel’s first-lap crash to take a seismic step towards his fourth world championship crown in Singapore.
Hamilton started proceedings fifth and had claimed he would need a miracle to win under the floodlights of the Marina Bay circuit, but led every lap of a race which saw the safety car deployed on three occasions.
The 32-year-old was given an unexpected early boost when Vettel collided with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and crashed out following a potentially season-defining incident.
Hamilton crossed the line ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to move 28 points clear of Vettel at the top of the drivers’ championship with six races remaining.
“Yesterday we struggled and we had no idea what would happen,” said Hamilton. “We are very fortunate with the Ferraris at the beginning but I could not be happier. I am really grateful.
“God blessed me today, for sure. I capitalised on the incident. Who would have known that will happen? Really unfortunate for the Ferraris but a great result for the team.
“When we got to turn three I had Sebastian in front and I thought I was going to have a real race here. I am just glad we brought it home.”
Verstappen pulled no punches and lay the blame for the early collision, which resulted in Ferrari retiring both cars on the first lap for the first time, at the door of Vettel.
“If you are fighting for the world championship you shouldn’t take those risks squeezing someone that much,” said Verstappen, 19. “You can see what happens. Lewis is leading the race and the three of us are out.”
Having taken advantage of the first-lap chaos, Hamilton produced a masterful drive and began reeling off fastest laps on a track which started wet but was dry for half its distance. The race was reduced from 61 to 58 laps because of the two-hour limit.
The quest for the world championship reconvenes in Sepang on 29 September on a track which is expected to suit Hamilton as he bids for a fourth successive race win.