Hamilton pursuit of Senna mark ends in frustration

Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:48am EDT
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By John O'Brien

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was in the form of his life when he arrived in Singapore, looking set to match the 41 career wins of his boyhood idol Ayrton Senna in a dominant season that had seen him win seven of the first 12 grands prix.

By the end of Sunday's race, however, the Briton had retired his sluggish Mercedes for the first time this year, while Sebastian Vettel roared to victory in his Ferrari.

Hamilton had secured 11 of 12 poles prior to Singapore but the alarm bells that first sounded in practice were ringing loud and clear by qualifying as Ferrari and Red Bull were lapping roughly a second faster than the Silver Arrows.

Banished to an unaccustomed third-row start, Hamilton and team mate Nico Rosberg were in damage limitation mode from the outset and never appeared fast enough to catch the leaders as their poorly performing tyres negated the car's superior power.

Vettel, meanwhile, was back to his supreme best, driving like he had for Red Bull when he won four world titles in a row.

Dominating from the front and shrugging off two safety car periods, as well as a track intruder, Vettel roared to a fourth triumph in Singapore.

It was the German's third victory in his debut season for Ferrari and he was chased home by former Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo and current ally Kimi Raikkonen to complete an unfamiliar looking podium in a Mercedes-dominated era.

Hamilton retired with power issues after 32 laps as Rosberg claimed fourth, reducing the gap to the Briton in the championship standings to 41 points with six rounds left.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (R) of Britain walks from his team's garage after retiring from the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit September 20, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su