World championship leader Lewis Hamilton had no complaints after claiming third place in the Singapore Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old McLaren driver started second on the grid behind Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and, after his title rival enjoyed a fine start to the race, it looked like Hamilton’s hopes of extending his lead in the standings would take a significant hit.
However, Massa’s hopes were ended on the 17th lap when, having entered the pit lane behind the safety car after Renault driver Nelson Piquet’s crash, he was shown the green light to leave but moved while the fuel hose was still attached to his car.
The Brazilian injured a member of his crew as he moved away and team mechanics then had to sprint the length of the pits before struggling to remove the hose.
To add insult to injury Massa was also hit with a drive-through penalty and while Fernando Alonso stole the show to claim a historic victory at Formula One’s first night race, Hamilton was pleased to secure third to extend his lead in the standings to seven points.
“I honestly can’t complain,” he said. “I didn’t want to take chances, particularly because the Ferraris were outside the points.
“The first night race in Formula One history was great fun and I am looking forward to the forthcoming double-header in Japan and China.”
It was the first time Hamilton and many of his fellow competitors had raced in the dark, but the Stevenage-born driver admitted the track was lit up so well he felt unaware he was racing at night.
“During the race it felt pretty much like all the races do,” added Hamilton. “I didn’t notice that we were racing at night.
“The track and the facilities here are phenomenal. They have done an amazing job. Unfortunately it is a little difficult to overtake on the circuit but it makes a good challenge for the drivers.
“It is a good result, coming here for the first time and scoring points and finishing on the podium. I am looking forward to coming here again next year and maybe we can try to win.”
Ferrari were dealt a double blow as Kimi Raikkonen crashed late on, meaning McLaren moved a point ahead in the constructors’ standings.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted the team recommended to Hamilton that he held onto third place rather than push Williams’ Nico Rosberg for second.
“Today’s race was a very exciting one,” he said. “In the last few laps, having seen Kimi’s accident we advised Lewis not to attempt to overtake Nico but instead settle for third and the seven-point lead in the drivers’ championship.
“The race was a hugely successful event and we are delighted to have emerged from it with the lead in the drivers’ and the constructors’ championships.”