AFP IS NOW CLOSING THIS LIVE REPORT, after Red Bull's brilliant Sebastian Vettel took a huge step towards his fourth straight world title Sunday with a superlative victory in Singapore that left his rivals fighting for scraps.

1423 GMT: And yet more boos from the crowd as Vettel says: "I'm not really looking at the championship too much. I'm enjoying the moment and I love racing." He may not be looking at the championship table -- which he leads by a massive 60 points now -- but it seems the Singapore crowd is.

1420 GMT: It was a "hairy start" with Rosberg hot on his heels, Vettel says. Raikkonen admits that sore back of his was a bit of a problem -- but that did not stop him grabbing a very decent third spot. Impressive stuff from the Lotus man.

1418 GMT: Interestingly, some boos from the crowd as Vettel gives the post-race interview from the podium. Part of the "anyone-but-Vettel" crowd, who fear F1 is not competitive enough with the German just too good?

1416 GMT: Vettel and Alonso shake hands, and the champagne is out, so too the fireworks. Alonso aims for Raikkonen with the champers, then takes a relieved swig.

1413 GMT: The German national anthem rings out across the night sky for Vettel -- it is past 10pm in Singapore -- and applause too for the man who seems destined to win a fourth world title on the spin. Vettel smiles broadly, taking in the moment.

1410 GMT: "The car was amazing," Vettel tells Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. The race "seemed to keep on going for ever at the end", a victorious Vettel says, wiping sweat from his face.

1407 GMT: The Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were fourth and fifth after Mark Webber failed to finish at the very last. Webber gets a lift back on the bonnet of Alonso's Ferrari. Massa was sixth, followed by Button, Perez, Hulkenberg. Sutil rounded out the top 10.

"I'm loving it!" exclaims Vettel, who takes the chequered flag ahead of Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS SINGAPORE GP

LAP 61/61: FINAL LAP.

LAP 60/61: Hamilton, in sixth, ahead of Massa, has just laid down a marker with the fastest lap. Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Rosberg are all over the back of Webber, who is there for the taking.

LAP 59/61: The battle for fourth is where it is at now. Red Bull tell Webber to nurse his car home, but he has Rosberg and then Hamilton to deal with.

LAP 58/61: Unless there is an uncharacteristic mistake from Vettel, this race is in the bag. Alonso appears to have second wrapped up, while Raikkonen is strengthening his grip on third. Then it is Webber, with a red-hot Rosberg in hot pursuit.

LAP 57/61: FIVE LAPS TO GO. Vettel leads, more than 20 seconds ahead of Alonso, then it is Raikkonen, Webber and Button, who is slowly falling away.

LAP 55/61: Now then. Will it be safety-car time again? Paul di Resta for Force India comes to a halt, smoke wafting out his car. But looks like the safety car will not be needed. Button concedes fourth to Webber,

LAP 54/61: Ahead of them, Vettel is out all on his own. He is a gaping 17 seconds ahead of the quietly efficient Alonso. Button just about keeping Raikkonen at bay... but not this time as the Finn sneaks in at a corner to relegate Button to fourth.

LAP 53/61: Raikkonen might have a bad back but he is really pushing Button for that third place. They thunder down the home straight but Raikkonen -- the "Ice Man" -- is breathing right down the Briton's neck.

LAP 52/61: Button will not win this race, but a podium place would feel like a victory after the most disappointing for McLaren in recent memory. His team-mate Perez is also doing his bit in sixth.

LAP 50/61: Things hotting up nicely as we approach the sharp end of an engrossing evening under the Singapore lights. Webber is holding off Rosberg and then Hamilton, while at the top of the field Vettel is keep Alonso at arm's length. Button is in the other podium place.

LAP 49/61: Intriguing battle between Mercedes team-mates -- and friends -- Hamilton and Rosberg for ninth and 10th. Mark Webber also in the mix. The Aussie is eighth but under pressure from the Mercedes duo.

LAP 48/61: Red Bull tell Vettel to look after the car, the brakes and the tyres. This is his race to lose now. Alonso is trailing him but the gap between two of the great drivers of this era is widening all the time.

LAP 46/61: We are counting down to the end of the race. Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes driver who was second for much of the night, is down in ninth now after that stop and appears to be in some awkward discussions with his team over that strategy. But if the others ahead of him go in again he could be in luck.

LAP 45/61: So Vettel has a nearly four-second lead over Ferrari's Alonso, his nearest challenger in the world-title race. Button, of McLaren, is third but may need to stop again. Raikkonen fourth and Perez fifth.

LAP 44/61: Vettel is told to pit for the last time. He goes on to the super-soft tyres and rejoins the race at the front. Alonso has crept up to second, with Button is a surprise third.

LAP 43/61: Rosberg, who was second, pits for his last change of tyres and comes out in 10th. But most the rest ahead of him need to pit too. Including race leader Vettel.

LAP 41/61: Webber pits for new tyres as his Red Bull team-mate Vettel, 3.5 seconds in the lead, clocks the fastest lap.

LAP 40/61: And that is "Good night" to Monsieur Grosjean. His race is over because of that technical issue. And he looks furious, climbing out his Lotus and staring at the car. Penny for his thoughts...

LAP 39/61: "Good job," Red Bull tell Vettel, who leads the Singapore Grand Prix almost two-thirds through.

LAP 38/61: Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber is closing on Rosberg, whose Mercedes team tell him he has rubber caught in the front of his car which is slowing him down. Webber and Vettel to fight for the lead? Given the history between the nominal team-mates that might make intriguing viewing.

LAP 37/61: Back at the business end and Vettel is once again steadily pulling away, 2.3 seconds in front of Rosberg in second.

LAP 36/61: Make that 21st for Grosjean. Last place. I suspect we will be hearing a lot more about this from the clearly unhappy Grosjean, who shook his head as his Lotus team fumbled for a solution to an air-consumption issue to his engine.

LAP 35/61: That is an absolute disaster for the Frenchman and Lotus. That technical problem has wrecked his race and he now languishes down in 20th after fighting for a podium place for the first half of the race.

LAP 33/61: Red Bull tell Vettel to build a lead, implying they want him to get a healthy gap before bringing him in for fresh tyres. Vettel hardly needs an invitation to go much quicker. Lotus call in Grosjean for a fault. "What is wrong with this car!" Grosjean exclaims. This is a long long stop.

LAP 32/61: And Vettel quickly builds his lead once more, pulling away from Rosberg by nearly five seconds now. Hamilton, in fourth, tells his team he fears for his tyres after going over some debris.

LAP 31/61: We are racing again, with Vettel streaking away from Rosberg, Webber, Hamilton and Alonso. They are followed by Grosjean, di Resta, Massa, Button and Raikkonen.

LAP 30/61: The safety car departs and it is up to Vettel to control the pack. The Red Bull man zigzags about the track to try and get some heat in his tyres. AND WE ARE OFF AGAIN.

LAP 30/61: Some suggestion the number of laps could be reduced. We are an hour through the race and not yet halfway through, so we could hit the two-hour time limit. More on that later.

LAP 29/61: The safety car should leave imminently. Every Singapore GP in history has now featured at least one-safety car period.

LAP 28/61: Red Bull tell Vettel to begin mentally preparing his re-start for when the safety car departs. "We have more fuel than we need, use the fuel," they tell the world champion.

LAP 27/61: As we all take a bit of a breather, crucial now for the drivers to keep up tyre and brake temperatures. Vettel's lead was 10 seconds... it is now about one second.

LAP 26/61: Safety car out is out and that could mix things up nicely, squeezing Vettel's big lead. Dare I say that the race needed that or it was in danger of becoming a one-man show.

LAP 26/61: Ouch! Ricciardo appeared to lock up and slams head-on into a wall. His race is over but he does not seem to be hurt.

LAP 25/61: Mercedes tell their man Lewis Hamilton to "remember to drink". And we have a car that has met with a wall at a corner. It is Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo -- the Australian who is off to Red Bull next year. SAFETY CAR OUT.

LAP 23/61: Tom Jones in the Lotus garage. Appears to be enjoying himself in the thick of it in the pitlane.

LAP 22/61: Lotus tell Raikkonen they cannot see a problem with his car, but he appears to be telling them something they cannot see on their televisions. He is down in ninth, and any vague championship hopes -- already all but dead -- are slowly slipping away here.

LAP 21/61: So Vettel leads in Singapore, from Rosberg, Alonso, Webber and Grosjean. Next up are Hamilton, di Resta, Massa, Button and Raikkonen.

LAP 20/61: The tyres are "terrible" says a clearly unamused Lewis Hamilton, as replays show sparks springing up from his Mercedes as he rounds one corner at pace. He is seventh.

LAP 19/61: We are nearly a third of the way through this captivating night race under the lights of Singapore. And it is all going rather nicely for runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. He is eight seconds out in front -- a big distance in a sport that is measured in tenths of seconds.

LAP 17/71: Now it is Vettel's turn to pit. The stop was just 2.8 seconds, meaning he can return to his place as race leader. All but one driver -- Paul di Resta -- have pitted now.

LAP 16/61: Breathtaking three-way battle between Hulkenberg, Perez and Gutierrez as they squabble for 12th, 13th and 14th. Great stuff. Just a whisker between Perez and Hulkenberg, who was forced off but returns swiftly.

LAP 16/61: Now Rosberg pits. This is almost certainly a two-stop strategy. Grosjean of Lotus also goes in, returning to the action in sixth, ahead of Hamilton.

LAP 14/61: Vettel now registers the best lap, while a host of drivers pit to change tyres. Alonso set to come in for his first stop. He rejoins the action in fifth place. That stop was just 3.4 seconds. Efficient.

LAP 13/61: F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, 82, has sent a very public 90th-birthday greeting to Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore's founding president, with a large banner down the home straight reading: "Happy birthday Mr. Lee Kwan Yew - Bernie."

LAP 12/61: Ferrari's Alonso clocks the fastest time of the race so far. He is third, behind leader Vettel and second-placed Rosberg.

LAP 10/61: David Beckham, arms crossed, looks like he is thoroughly engrossed. And he appears not have a bead of sweat on him, amazingly. Back to the action - Raikkonen pits. He is the first to do so. Three-stop strategy for the unpaid Lotus man?

LAP 9/61: Harris also says that this is a long course at 3.1 miles (5.1 kilometres) with 23 corners, so lots of work to do -- and very, very hot and sticky. Drivers will lose about three litres of sweat during the race, he tells me from track-side.

LAP 8/61: AFP Asia sports editor Talek Harris says the Marina Bay Circuit might be spectacular , but it is hell for the drivers, he says, bumpy over the manhole covers and street markings and F1 cars are not exactly designed for comfort, he points out.

LAP 7/61: Vettel looking a class apart here. Already. He is more than six seconds ahead of the chasing pack. Rosberg leads that pack, followed by Alonso, Webber and Grosjean.

LAP 5/61: Raikkonen might have a bad back, but he is showing why Ferrari have snapped him up for next season. He is down in 11th but putting real pressure on Hulkenberg, just ahead of him.

LAP 4/61: Replays show Alonso's stunning start, where he nipped down the side, from seventh, zipping into third. That is why he is one of the most highly rated in the business.

LAP 4/61: Scorching start from Vettel, who is now a mammoth six seconds clear and he is going like the clappers. He will need to watch those delicate tyres though.

LAP 3/61: Vettel is ominously pulling away from the field already. He is 2.2 seconds ahead of Rosberg. Alonso third, Webber fourth and Grosjean fifth. Next up is Massa, then Hamilton and Button.

LAP 2/61: Early reprimand for Lewis Hamilton who has been instructed to give his place on the track back to Felipe Massa after going off the track and overtaking the Brazilian in doing so.

LAP 1/61: Rosberg very nearly grabbed Vettel's lead going into the first corner but the German just about held him off. Alonso jumps from seventh to third.

IT"S GO! GO! GO!

1202 GMT: And here we go. Belt up, this could be special. Sixty-one laps of racing coming right up.

1157 GMT: The race engineers and assembled crew scurry off the track and here we go on the formation lap. Cameras pop and click from the jam-packed grandstand as the cars roar away, front lights blazing. Glad to say no sign of rain.

1154 GMT: Special mention for Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, who is alongside Vettel on the front row and was highly impressive in qualifying, even outgunning his more celebrated team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg is a picture of concentration as he sits in his sleek, silver machine.

1151 GMT: Let's get back to the racing. Pole-sitter Vettel cannot wrap up the world title this weekend, but the hot favourite can get awfully close to doing so. There are six races to go after this one. Korea is next up and then Japan -- he could clinch the championship there. He has 222 points. Alonso is second with 169.

1148 GMT: Some fans will do anything. Including gazing down from the world’s biggest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer, which overlooks the pitlane, Harris says. This is some sight.

1145 GMT: As Harris rightly points out, night has fallen over Singapore -- it is coming up to 8:00pm local time -- and the view is spectacular, skyscrapers and colonial-era buildings peering over proceedings. Just 15 minutes to the big off.

1142 GMT: Talek Harris, the AFP Asia sports editor, says that it’s a typically hot and steamy night in Singapore with track temperatures at 30C (86F). Large crowds of fans are wearing team shirts, he says, and toting big cameras outside the paddock trying to get shots and autographs of the drivers.

1139 GMT: There are some big names in Singapore for arguably one of the most glamorous races of the season. And they don't come much bigger than David Beckham, spotted pressing the flesh with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

1135 GMT: Just 25 minutes till the only night race of the F1 season gets under way. To recap, Vettel is on pole, alongside Rosberg at the front of the grid. Next up are Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Mark Webber (Red Bull); third row is Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari); then Alonso (Ferrari) and Jenson Button (McLaren). Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) and Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) round out the top 10.

1132 GMT: First up, good news for soon-to-be Ferrari man Kimi Raikkonen, who will definitely take part after intense physiotherapy helped keep a painful back injury under control. He still, in theory at least, can win the world title. In theory.

WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT on the Singapore Grand Prix, where hot favourite Sebastian Vettel driving for Red Bull will be looking to take another huge step towards his fourth straight world title and Formula One greatness when he starts on pole.

The sublime young German zeroed in on his third win in Singapore, and his fourth in five races this season, with a brilliant drive to qualify at the front of the grid late on Saturday.

He will start the night race knowing another victory will put him closer to joining Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as only the third man to win four world titles in a row.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg will start from second but Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, second in the standings but 53 points behind Vettel, is seventh.

 

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