Sebastian Vettel moved to the brink of a second title by winning the Singapore Grand Prix, but Jenson Button's runner-up finish meant the German was one point shy of the championship lead he required to wrap things up for 2011.
Vettel utterly dominated the majority of the race. The Red Bull man was a second per lap faster than his pursuers at first, and though the pack closed up with a mid-race safety car after Michael Schumacher clipped Sergio Perez and was launched into a violent accident – from which he emerged unhurt – Vettel had a cushion of backmarkers behind him at the restart and was eight seconds clear again after just one lap.
McLaren driver Button started closing in with some very rapid late laps, but Vettel always appeared to have everything under control as he clinched his ninth win of the season.
Button had claimed second with a quick start, while Vettel's front row partner teammate Mark Webber got away slowly. Lewis Hamilton challenged Webber down the inside in the second McLaren but ran out of space and fell as low as eighth, while Fernando Alonso took his Ferrari around the outside of everyone to grab third from fifth on the grid.
Webber twice passed Alonso on the road, having to get back ahead after the Ferrari reclaimed third in the first pit stops following an on-track exchange. But a bold dive into the Turn 10 chicane amid traffic on the restart lap secured Webber's third place and he pulled away thereafter.
Hamilton had a highly eventful run to fifth. He quickly recovered from being wrong-footed on the first lap but then clipped Felipe Massa while racing with the Ferrari immediately after the first stops. The McLaren picked up both wing damage and a penalty, while Massa was left with a puncture.
A comeback charge from Hamilton took him from a post-drive-through 15th to fifth in the end, helped by the safety car closing him onto the lead pack again. A string of DRS passes got him back into the top five, though having to pit for another set of tires while those behind him did not meant Hamilton had to make a lot of his moves twice before his top-five finish was secure.
Paul di Resta secured the best result of his Formula 1 career so far in sixth for Force India. A very long first stint and the ability to make his second and final stop just as the safety car came out got him ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and the second Force India of Adrian Sutil.
Massa fell to 20th following the clash with Hamilton, before clawing his way back through to salvage some points in ninth.
Perez's Sauber was undamaged in the incident with Schumacher, which happened when the Mercedes was coming back through after a pit stop, and he finished 10th.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Singapore Grand Prix
61 laps; 309.087km;
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h59:06.537
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1.737
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 29.279
4. Alonso Ferrari + 55.449
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 1:07.766
6. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:51.067
7. Rosberg Mercedes + 1 lap
8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
9. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
10. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
11. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
13. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 2 laps
15. Senna Renault + 2 laps
16. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
17. Petrov Renault + 2 laps
18. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth + 4 laps
20. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth + 4 laps
21. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 5 laps
Fastest lap: Button, 1:48.454
Driver Team On lap
Trulli Lotus-Renault 48
Schumacher Mercedes 29
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 10
World Championship standings, round 14:
1. Vettel 309 1. Red Bull-Renault 491
2. Button 185 2. McLaren-Mercedes 353
3. Alonso 184 3. Ferrari 268
4. Webber 182 4. Mercedes 114
5. Hamilton 168 5. Renault 70
6. Massa 84 6. Force India-Mercedes 48
7. Rosberg 62 7. Sauber-Ferrari 36
8. Schumacher 52 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 29
9. Heidfeld 34 9. Williams-Cosworth 5
10. Petrov 34
11. Sutil 28
12. Kobayashi 27
13. Di Resta 20
14. Alguersuari 16
15. Buemi 13
16. Perez 9
17. Barrichello 4
18. Senna 2
19. Maldonado 1
All timing unofficial