Formula 1

lewis hamilton.

The Singapore Grand Prix started in absolutely ridiculous fashion

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Lewis Hamilton spoke of needing a miracle going into the Singapore GP and it looks as if he may have just been handed one as he sought to ward off Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the head of the drivers' championship.

Trailing the Brit by just three points, pre-race favourite Vettel was forced to retire following a sensational crash with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen on lap 1.

Verstappen had moved left to avoid Vettel but instead hit Raikkonen, whilst Vettel had spun into the wall on heading towards turn four.

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Hamilton, for Mercedes, now leads the German by a year-high 28 points as he pursues his fourth Formula One title. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo came in second whilst Valterri Bottas came in third to complete a near perfect day for Mercedes.

Both Carlos Sainz, for Toro Rosso, and Renault's Jolyon Palmer had career best finishes in fourth and sixth respectively. 

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Watch: First lap crash

Overtaking is very difficult in Singapore and Vettel had entered the race in pole position, from where seven of the nine races on the Marina Bay circuit had been won. In contrast, Hamilton had struggled in qualifying and started in fifth.

"Fifth place is definitely not good compared to first. I am going to have to figure out how to pull a miracle out of somewhere," he told the Express pre-race.

Mercedes team captain Tom Wolff had also anticipated: "So far this year, we have seen the pendulum swing according to circuit type. On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull"

Despite the huge turnaround, Vettel was not about to throw in the towel just yet, though, as he prepares for the first of the six remaining races at Malaysia at the end of the month.

Hamilton now favourite

Hamilton has now been installed as a heavy odds on favourite by the bookies for the driver's title, but speaking on television, Vettel said: "It's not ideal.

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice

"I don't know what happened, I didn't see that much. I saw Max and then I saw Kimi hitting the side of me. It's how this business is and it doesn't change much because we're not in the race and it's a pity and we can't show the pace we have but I'm sure there will be more opportunities."

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