Sebastian Vettel was victorious at the Singapore Grand Prix, ending a winless streak that had stretched to more than a year. Having started and run third in the opening stint, the Ferrari driver clocked a rapid out-lap after his pit stop to not only jump Lewis Hamilton but also teammate and pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.
After a run of edge-of-the-seat races, the Singapore Grand Prix was a processional affair – for the frontrunners at the least – dictated by strategy. With the top-half of the grid all starting on the quickest but least durable Soft compound tyres, their immediate focus was to try and run at the slowest possible pace to stretch their opening stint.
Leclerc made a textbook getaway to lead Hamilton and Vettel off the grid, while the midfield and below had a few predictable scrapes. Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Williams’ George Russell all made early visits to their pit bays to repair damage – Hülkenberg and Sainz had a coming-together, while Russell had his front wing clipped by Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault.
Leclerc controlled the pace early on, running just out of reach of the chasing pack and backing Hamilton into Vettel so he could undercut the championship leader during the approaching pit stops. Max Verstappen held station just behind in fourth in his Red Bull Racing Honda with teammate Alexander Albon in sixth, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas sandwiched between them.
With just one stop expected, the timing and execution of the upcoming pit stops would shape the outcome of the race. With Red Bull Racing setting up to receive Verstappen and fearing an undercut by the Dutchman, Ferrari’s tacticians made a last-minute decision to pit Vettel at the end of Lap 18. They emerged in the same order, but Vettel was able to pump out several fast sectors on his out-lap. With Mercedes keeping both Hamilton and Bottas out on track, he was looking good to jump into second place and give Ferrari its first 1-2 finish of the season.
At the end of Lap 20, Leclerc made his sole pit stop but, much to his surprise and frustration, he emerged from the pit lane behind Vettel who now held the effective race lead.
Hamilton and Bottas stayed out for a few more laps, hoping that the Ferraris would be helpd up trying to navigate through the yet-to-pit midfielders. The upgrades Ferrari brought this weekend – specifically to the nose, front wing, diffuser, floor and rear wing – were working far better than expected and had transformed the SF90 which had historically been poor through the kind of slow-speed corners that the Marina Bay street circuit had in abundance.
Mercedes had to gamble on their strategy to compete, but for once the Silver Arrows made the wrong strategic call and were simply not fast enough in clear air. When Hamilton pitted six laps later he emerged at the back of the quartet and needed some team orders to ensure Bottas stayed behind. A fourth place finish was not part of the plan, but by finishing ahead of Bottas he managed to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings to 65 points.
Three subsequent Safety Car interruptions made the race a stop/start affair until the chequered flag, but Vettel had a relatively untroubled run to the finish. Leclerc was an annoyed second, demanding answers over the team radio on how he had been beaten by his teammate.
Regardless of Leclerc’s initial sentiments, this was a massive result for Ferrari which earned its third victory in a row – the first time it had achieved that since 2008 when it last won the Constructors’ Championship titles. The red cars’ potential has finally been unlocked and they will be a genuine threat for the remaining races this year.
Ahead of the two Mercedes’ Verstappen finished third and teammate Albon sixth on his first outing at Singapore.
With teammate Sainz taken out of the picture on Lap 1, the McLaren torch was carried by Lando Norris, with the British teenager finishing a fine seventh. He led a train of cars comprising Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, the recovering Hülkenberg and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi – the Italian briefly led the race during the pit stop cycle, marking the first time in the turbo-hybrid era that someone outside the ‘big three’ teams had done so.
|FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 2019 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (61 LAPS)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result||Pts|
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||61||1:58:33.667||25|
|2.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||61||+ 2.641||18|
|3.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||61||+ 3.821||15|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||61||+ 4.608||12|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||61||+ 6.119||10|
|6.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB15||61||+ 11.663||8|
|7.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||61||+ 14.769||6|
|8.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||61||+ 15.547||4|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||61||+ 16.718||2|
|10.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||61||+ 27.855||1|
|11.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||61||+ 35.436|
|12.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||61||+ 35.974|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||61||+ 36.419|
|14.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||61||+ 37.660|
|15.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||61||+ 38.178|
|16.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||61||+ 47.024|
|17.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||61||+ 1:26.822|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Reason|
|DNF.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||49||Collision|
|DNF.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||42||Oil Leak|
|DNF.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||34||Collision|
Points are awarded to the top 10 classified finishers on a 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
Kevin Magnussen posted the fastest lap of the race, however is not awarded an additional 1 championship point as he was not a points’ finisher.
- Antonio Giovinazzi was issued a 10-second time penalty for dangerous driving behind the Safety Car.
Images via Scuderia Ferrari