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Lewis Hamilton put one hand on the Formula 1 championship trophy with an workmanlike, nearly too-easy, lights-to-flag victory at the F1 Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.

The race got under way again on lap 4 but the frontrunners were running cautiously, almost 11 seconds off qualifying pace, so as to manage their fragile hypersoft tyres and extend the first stint as far as possible.

Hamilton and Vettel made the best starts of the top three and the pole-sitting Mercedes cut cleanly through the first two corners as second-placed Verstappen had to defend his position from Vettel.

Vettel reveals on Lap 19 that he doesn't expect his tires to last the race, though commentators speculate the call to be a bluff.

Mercedes has historically struggled for performance at Singapore, and ahead of the race weekend was viewed as the underdog in the fight against Ferrari.

On the short dash to the left-handed opening bend, Hamilton retained his lead with a peerless start.

Hamilton did have one minor scare on lap 38 when he got caught up behind some back markers and Verstappen closed right up behind him.

Further back, Force India's weekend took a bad turn, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon colliding through Turn 2, pushing the Frenchman into the wall and breaking his suspension. A small lockup forced Vettel to back off and allowed Verstappen to keep the position in which he qualified.

The incident meant it was for the third year in a row that the safety vehicle was deployed on lap one.

The initial pitstop phase left Hamilton with a 3s lead over Verstappen once Ricciardo became the last of the frontrunners to change tyres, on lap 27.

The stop would prove disastrous for Vettel, since he emerged behind Perez and spent two laps bottled up behind him.

Mercedes pitted Hamilton moments later, and when Vettel came back out he was still behind Hamilton and lost more time getting past Perez. When the Dutchman did come in, four laps later than Vettel, he had pulled out enough of a gap to leapfrog the Ferrari vehicle for second.

There's "no chance" of winning, Vettel moaned over team radio.

Hamilton led comfortably at the front with his only drama on lap 34 as he was held up by backmarkers.

Hamilton had opened a three-second advantage over Verstappen mid-race but that advantage was whittled away when he was stuck behind the battling Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin.

"Wow, wow", said Hamilton. However, he didn't blame Grosjean and Sirotkin entirely, despite the pair being slapped with five-second time penalties. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull finished sixth after starting from the same position while Fernando Alonso improved to seventh in the McLaren after starting 11th.

"We knew exactly what kind of split times that auto was able to do, but in sector one and sector two when the purple times kept popping up it was surreal - so that was his driving. We've got these guys".