By Abhishek Takle
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Sebastian Vettel ended a 13-month win drought by leading a Ferrari one-two victory at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, while Lewis Hamilton finished fourth but stretched his championship lead to 65 points.
The German, whose last victory was in Belgium in August 2018, took the chequered flag 2.641 seconds ahead of unhappy Monegasque team mate Charles Leclerc.
“I really want to thank the fans over the last couple of weeks,” said Vettel, referring to their continued support after a difficult few months. “I put it all into the car today.”
Leclerc, 21, had started on pole position for the third race in a row but ended seething at a strategy call that played into Vettel’s hands by pitting the German first while his team mate was leading.
The decision leapfrogged Vettel, who had started third, into the lead after Leclerc had pitted.
The victory was a record fifth in Singapore for four-times Formula One world champion Vettel, and third in a row this season for Ferrari.
It was also the first time a team had finished one-two in Singapore.
“Obviously it is always difficult to lose a win like that but at the end it’s a one-two for the team so I’m happy for that, our first of the season,” said Leclerc, winner of the previous two races.
Red Bull’s Dutch 21-year-old Max Verstappen took third place in a floodlit night race that saw the safety car deployed three times.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate and closest rival Valtteri Bottas finished fifth and now has 231 points to Hamilton’s 296.
Mercedes now have 527 points with six races remaining to Ferrari’s 394.
Thai racer Alexander Albon was sixth for Red Bull with British rookie Lando Norris seventh for McLaren and Pierre Gasly eighth for Toro Rosso.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was ninth and Italian Antonio Govinazzi, who had a stint leading the race after staying out while others pitted, was 10th for Alfa Romeo.
Danish driver Kevin Magnussen took the fastest lap for Haas for the second year in a row but without scoring an extra point because he finished 17th.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)