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S'pore's best F1 thriller yet as Vettel wins again

Bad luck for Lewis Hamilton, game on for Sebastian Vettel as Singapore marked its Formula One contract extension with its most thrilling race ever.
The Straits Times - September 24, 2012
By: Terrence Voon
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S'pore's best F1 thriller yet as Vettel wins again Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates victory in last night’s SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. The German is now the nearest challenger to Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the race to the top of the driver’s championship and has six races in which to cl

BAD luck for Lewis Hamilton, game on for Sebastian Vettel as Singapore marked its Formula One contract extension with its most thrilling race ever.

Two crashes, Hamilton's shock retirement and plenty of wheel-to-wheel action ended with Vettel winning the night race for the second year in a row.

McLaren's Jenson Button was second, while championship leader Fernando Alonso was third in his Ferrari.

This was the first time all three drivers on the Singapore podium were world champions, but crucially, Hamilton was not among them. The McLaren ace started well from pole, but a gearbox problem forced him off the track and dealt a huge blow to the Briton's hopes of securing a second drivers' championship.

Germany's Vettel is now Alonso's nearest challenger, and has six races to claw back a 29-point deficit. The Spanish two-time world champion has 194 points after 14 races.

Vettel sprayed the champagne as fireworks lit up the Marina Bay street circuit last night - a spectacular toast to F1's future in Singapore. The race will continue until 2017, and the challenge now is to retain its glamour and standing as one of the best on the F1 calendar.

Hailed as the "Monaco of the East" and F1's "crown jewel", the night race ignited the city's party scene for the fifth year in a row, and filled trackside hotels to full or near-full capacity.

They were helped by a multimillion- dollar entertainment programme. This year, it was headlined by American superstar Katy Perry, who rocked 40,000 fans at the Padang last night.

Complaints about road congestion and retail woes in the Marina Bay area continued this year, but others said their businesses would reap long-term benefits.

"We can safely say that the prestige and brand equity the Singapore night race provides is immeasurable," said Mr Raymond Tait, executive assistant manager of sales and marketing at Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford. "Its benefits in tourism will still be felt long after the dust from the races has settled five years from now."

Fans are still loving it too. All 84,317 tickets were sold out this year - ranging from $198 Walkabout tickets to $8,000 Paddock Club passes. It is believed that around 40per cent were snapped up by overseas visitors. Tickets for the 2013 race are already on sale, as organisers ride the buzz from this year's race.

Said Vettel: "Formula One has not raced here for 50 years, but it already feels like a classic."

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