Alonso wins in Singapore, Hamilton extends lead

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The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso pulled off an extraordinary win in the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday, while McLaren's Lewis Hamilton extended his Formula One championship lead.

Starting from 15th on the grid after a fuel pump failure in qualifying looked to have wrecked his weekend, Alonso benefited from an early safety car period that turned the race around.

The Spaniard won his first race since last year's Italian Grand Prix and the 20th of his career. Williams' Nico Rosberg was second — his best-ever grand prix finish — while Hamilton was third.

Hamilton extended his championship lead to seven points due to a remarkable turn of events that cost title rival Felipe Massa of Ferrari any points.

The Brazilian led the early part of the race from the pole position, but his race was ruined when he pitted after the end of a safety car period at the start of lap 20.

Massa pulled away from his stop prematurely, taking the fuel rig and hose with him up the pit lane, knocking over one of his mechanics — who was taken for medical treatment — and almost colliding with another car as he pulled away from the garage.

By the time the Ferrari crew was able to sprint the length of pit lane and wrestle the rig out of the waiting car, Massa had dropped from the lead to 18th and last.

He then incurred a drive-through penalty for an "unsafe release from a pit stop." Massa finished in 13th place.

It was a dismal race for Ferrari, with reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen crashing out on the 58th of 61 laps. The Italian team's pointless finish and Hamilton's third place lifted McLaren atop the constructors' standings by one point.

Toyota's Timo Glock was fourth and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel took fifth. In sixth was BMW's Nick Heidfeld, ahead of Red Bull's David Coulthard and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima.

Rosberg led the race and BMW's Robert Kubica was fourth after the first set of stops and safety-car period. But they were subsequently penalized with stop-go penalties for pitting under safety car conditions before clearance was given. They were forced into those stops due to lack of fuel.

Rosberg got the benefit of delaying his stop-go penalty for a few laps at the front of the field, so even after his penalty he emerged only just behind Alonso

Red Bull's Mark Webber was running in second place, only a second behind Alonso when his car lost seventh gear and he was forced to retire in the mid-part of the race.

The safety car was deployed again on lap 52 after Force India's Adrian Sutil hit a barrier and blocked turn 18. That stacked the whole field together, completely negating the 23.5-second lead that Alonso had built.

However, the Spaniard immediately sprinted away from the field upon resumption of racing and was untroubled in winning by 2.9 seconds.

Singapore Grand Prix provisional result

1. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 1hr 57min 16.304 secs

2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams-Toyota +00:02.957secs

3. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 00:05.917

4. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 00:08.155

5. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 00:10.268

6. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 00:11.101

7. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 00:16.387

8. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams - Toyota 00:18.489

9. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 00:19.885

10. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 00:26.902

11. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 00:27.975

12. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 00:29.432

13. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 00:35.107

14. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India-Ferrari 00:43.571

15r.Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 4 laps

r. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 11 laps

r. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Ferrari 12 laps

r. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 32 laps

r. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 47 laps

r. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault 48 laps

(rank: r = retired)

Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen, 1 min 45.599 secs, lap 14.