Sebastian Vettel laid down an ominous message to anyone hoping they might sneak the 2013 world championship from under him after dominating the Singapore Grand Prix.
The German looks almost certain now to claim his fourth consecutive championship with the Tilbrook-based Red Bull Racing team, and showed no signs of letting up his relentless charge towards the 2013 crown with a masterclass around the streets of Singspore on Sunday.
His dominance was clear from the opening practice session on Friday. Despite finishing third in the session, he looked confident as he obliterated the field in the second session, six tenths faster than his team-mate Webber and more than a second ahead of anyone else in the field.
He looked equally untouchable in qualifying, opting to run just once in the final session. Although Nico Rosberg came within a tenth of his time, Vettel started from pole position for the seventh time this season. Webber started fourth.
The one bump in the road for Vettel came in the race down to Turn 1 as Rosberg appeared to get the drop on the world champion. But his compatriot in the Mercedes ran too deep, allowing Vettel to cut back and retake the lead by Turn 2.
And comfortably lapping nearly two second a lap quicker than the field, Vettel raced into an unassainable lead.
Webber meanwhile fell behind the fast-starting Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, but held off the threat of Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton behind.
While Vettel had the race all his own way, Webber fought his way up into third ahead of Rosberg before a safety car brought the field back together, eliminating Vettel’s comfortable lead.
Webber pitted once more for tyres dropping him down the order as some tried their arm at going the full distance with one stop. Vettel’s advantage even after the safety car was great enough for him to stop without dropping a place to Alonso in second.
Webber battled brilliantly to pass Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber and both McLarens to move up into fourth place, but engine failure ended his chances of a finish just a lap from the end.
Vettel meanwhile won by 30 seconds from Alonso, extending his championship lead to 58 points with six races remaining.
He said: “It’s just been a fantastic weekend. The start was close, but then we had strong race pace, especially when the safety car came in, and we pushed very hard to try to build up a gap.
“You never know what’s coming up and what can happen. We didn’t expect to be that strong, but it’s a team effort. Everyone is pushing hard.”