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Hamilton ‘very fortunate’, but was confident of Singapore win in rain

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Lewis Hamilton admitted he got “very fortunate” during Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix after a three-car crash at the first corner eliminated both Ferraris, but always felt confident of victory in the rain.

In the first wet night race in F1 history, Hamilton was able to jump from fifth to first on the opening lap when title rival Sebastian Vettel tangled with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen at Turn 1.

Hamilton managed to negotiate the wet-to-dry phase, three safety car periods and race-long pressure from Daniel Ricciardo to bag his third straight victory, extending his lead over Vettel to 28 points – the largest gap at the top all season.

“Yesterday we struggled, and we had no idea what was going to happen today, but we just tried to stay focused and try to get ahead,” Hamilton said.

“Of course we were very fortunate with the Ferraris in the beginning. I couldn’t be happier, I’m really grateful. God blessed me today for sure.

“I capitalised on the incident. Who would have known that would happen? Really unfortunate for the Ferraris but a great result for the team, Daniel put up a really good fight today. I enjoyed racing him.”

Hamilton said on Saturday after qualifying he needed a “miracle” to leave Singapore still leading the championship, coming in the form of the first-lap clash.

However, he always fancied his chances at Marina Bay when it started to rain in the build-up to lights out.

“I needed it to rain, and as soon as it rained, I knew where I was going to finish,” Hamilton said.

“I knew I had the pace when it rains, but unfortunately we just didn’t have the car in the dry, but today it raining, those are my conditions.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.