Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (C) of Britain raises his trophy during the podium ceremony after winning the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore September 21, 2014. Photo by Pablo Sanchez, Reuters.
SINGAPORE - Lewis Hamilton regained the lead in the Formula One drivers' world championship on Sunday when he capitalized on Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg's reliability problems to claim a dramatic victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old Briton led almost throughout from pole position to dominate before and after a Safety Car intervention had reduced his lead and forced him to attack again in the closing stages.
It was the 29th win of Hamilton's career, his seventh this year and his second in Singapore, ending four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel's run of three straight wins on the south-east Asian street circuit.
"I had a dream this would happen last night," said Hamilton.
"But, you know, dreams don't always work out! A huge thanks to the team. What we've done this year is incredible. I know we have a car we can fight with and it was a great feeling throughout the race.
"At the final pit stop, for me, the pressure was not too bad. I didn't know the situation if, for example, the safety car would come out, but I knew we had a chance to get by.
"Things have changed for me -- absolutely. I looked for a clean weekend and this was it for me. We always strive to get both cars 1-2 that was our goal so there are things still to work on."
Hamilton moved on to 241 points and leads Rosberg, who was unable to line up on the grid, by three points with five races remaining in one of the most tense and closely-fought championships of recent years.
Hamilton came home 13.534 seconds ahead of Vettel. It is the second time this year that he has led the championship after having recovered from a difficult start to overhaul Rosberg at the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third in the second Red Bull ahead of a revived Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Felipe Massa of Williams.
"It is a circuit I really enjoy," said Vettel, a podium finisher in the last five Singapore races.
- tyres borderline -
"The atmosphere is great, but it is tough. I had a good start, got past Daniel, then had a decent race, but the Safety Car came at the worst point for us with tyres borderline. I never felt we could win, Lewis had more to spare than I did."
Ricciardo was happy, notably with the vocal support from plenty of Australians who had made the short journey from Perth to support him.
"It is great to have so many mates here!" he joked.
He was less amused by Alonso's decision to hand back a place to Vettel, after passing him at the start, but not also to him. "I will have to have a look.
"He went off, I knew he would give it back to Seb, but he didn't give it back to me. I had to focus on regrouping. To get on the podium, after that, is not a bad result."
Job-hunting Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, due to be replaced by 16-year-old Dutchman Max Verstappen next year, finished sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India, Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India and Dane Kevin Magnussen of McLaren.
Rosberg started from the pit lane but retired after 14 of the 61 laps and, after swallowing his disappointment, watched the finale of an incident packed race from the Mercedes pit wall.
"It wasn't so much a roller coaster ride because it was all downhill for me," he said.
"It was very frustrating to drive behind a Caterham and sit on a grid and watch everyone else leave, but that is the way it is.
"I was stuck with no power, only able to shift gear pedals, but even there not every gear. It was all over the place."
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