|Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, and McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain on the podium after the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore September 23, 2012. Vettel won the race while Button placed second and Fernando Alonso placed third. (REUTERS/Pablo Sanchez)
SINGAPORE - Two-time defending Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel benefited from Lewis Hamilton's gearbox failure early in the race and then held off Jenson Button after two restarts to win the Singapore Grand Prix for the second straight year.
Vettel started third but quickly advanced his position to second on the opening lap. The Red Bull driver then took over the lead when Hamilton suffered his reliability issue on lap 23 and dropped out of the race.
Originally scheduled for 61 laps around Singapore's Marina Bay Street Circuit, the race concluded in a two-hour time limit due to the safety car being deployed twice for separate accidents. The first deployment came on lap 33 when Narain Karthikeyan hit the turn 18 barrier and had the right-front wheel come off of his HRT car. Just after the restart on lap 39, Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher slammed into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso, forcing the second caution period.
Vettel easily pulled away from Button on the last restart and then beat the McLaren driver at the finish by 8.9 seconds for his second win of the season and the 23rd of his already illustrious F1 career. Vettel's first victory this year came in the April 22 Bahrain Grand Prix.
"We benefited a little bit from Lewis' failure, which I could see a couple of laps before that he lost oil," Vettel said. "After that, we had a very strong pace. We had a good start, which got us into second and into the hunt. I'm very happy and proud, because this is such a tough race to win."
The Singapore GP is considered one of the longest and toughest events on the F1 schedule. The two-hour limit reduced the race to 59 laps.
"I think it's one of the toughest races of the year," Vettel noted. "It's very long, and we did the full two hours. The circuit is a killer, and there's many bumps. There's no place for mistakes. The race just seems to go on forever."
With the win, Vettel moved up to second in the world championship point standings. He is now 29 points behind leader Fernando Alonso from Ferrari. Alonso finished third. He entered this event with a 37-point lead over Hamilton.
Paul di Resta's fourth-place run marked the career-best finish for the Force India driver. Nico Rosberg from Mercedes placed fifth. Rosberg's teammate, Schumacher, ended up 21st. Hamilton finished last in the 24-car field.
Hamilton is now fourth in the standings, as he trails Alonso by 52 points. Kimi Raikkonen's sixth-place finish puts him 45 points out of the lead.