Sebastian Vettel brought himself right back into title contention with victory in the Singapore GP as Lewis Hamilton suffered a gearbox failure and with it pretty much ended his hopes of catching up with championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Red Bull driver and defending champion Vettel cruised home to pick up a vital 25 points, after McLaren's Hamilton, who started on pole and was leading the race, was forced to retire. McLaren teammate Jenson Button took second with Ferrari's Alonso rounding off the podium places in third.
"It was great to bag 25 points," a delighted Vettel said. "It's been a good day for us. At the start I think it was very important to outstrip the Williams and from then on in it became obvious that we had the speed -- especially in sector three -- and I was able to keep the gap to Lewis (Hamilton) small.
"At the end of the first stint I could not keep up the speed and had to pit for new tyres, which wasn't exactly the plan. In the end the decision was correct as I felt much more comfortable on the harder compound and could get closer to Lewis.
"He then ran into trouble and had to stop so it is hard to say what would have happened had he stayed in the race. But speed-wise I would say that in the second stint something would have been possible. In the end it was not necessary to try anything. I must say that it was a really good weekend."
Vettel ended a five-month wait for a race victory by winning his second-straight Singapore GP, and dedicated the win to Formula One safety expert Sid Watkins, who passed away recently.
"I'm just incredibly happy and proud because this is a such a tough race," the German said. "I would like to dedicate it to one very, very special man, Professor Sid Watkins who passed away and we remember him for sure. I think he is one of the biggest reasons we can go out on a circuit like this and enjoy ourselves and be reasonably safe. He pushed the boundaries in terms of safety for all of us, so a big thank you to him."
Alonso, who has 194 points, leads the championship table by 29 from Vettel (165), and the Spaniard was reasonably happy to finish third, despite Ferrari not being really competitive this weekend. Kimi Raikkonen is third with 149 points, while Hamilton is fourth on 142. "I think it's a very positive weekend," he said. "A very good weekend.
"Of the four or five contenders, we lost points with one, with the other three we increased our advantage, so obviously, as I said, when we are not quick enough to win more points against three of our opponents, I think it's positive."
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher received a 10-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix after the Mercedes driver collided into the back of Toro Rosso driver Jean Eric-Vergne.
"Mercedes' Michael Schumacher has been punished by the Singapore GP stewards for his collision with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne during Sunday's Marina Bay race. Schumacher receives a 10-place grid penalty for the next round in Japan," a statement on the Formula One website said.
"The driver acknowledged that the collision was his error due to failure to anticipate braking performance of the car with lower tyre grip following a safety car period," a Stewards' statement added.