Vettel holds off Leclerc for a Ferrari 1-2 in Singapore
It's been a long time since Sebastian Vettel won a grand prix but he turned an early pitstop onto hard tires that gave him the lead, and he never put a wheel wrong despite 3 safety car restarts to lead a Ferrari 1-2 in the Singapore GP.
Polesitter Charles Leclerc was not able to make a pass attempt on Vettel and had to settle for 2nd.
Max Verstappen got the better of Lewis Hamilton to take third ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Pulling away at the end, Vettel scored his fifth win at the Marina Bay Street Circuit by 2.6s after getting the undercut in the pits on Leclerc and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to jump from third to first, paving the way for him to end his drought that dated back to the Belgian Grand Prix in August 2018. It was Vettel's 53rd F1 win.
Ferrari managed to score its first one-two finish for more than two years, but tensions at the team flared once again as Leclerc spent the second half of the race questioning how he had lost his on-track advantage to Vettel, acting as the latest point of contention between the duo.
Hamilton was able to extend his lead in the F1 drivers' championship, albeit by just two points after finishing down in fourth as Mercedes' strategy gamble backfired.
Despite losing a few tenths of a second during his stop, a mighty outlap allowed Vettel to get the jump on Leclerc as the Monegasque snaked out of the pits, moving into the lead of the race.
“What the hell!” came Leclerc’s response over team radio, surprised at the flash of red ahead of him. He was quick to close up on Vettel, but was not able to angle for a move.
Safety Car Periods
On lap 35, the Safety Car came out following the incident between George Russell and Romain Grosjean, when Vettel had around a 5 second lead over Charles, who was followed by Verstappen, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. There were two more Safety Car periods, one when Sergio Perez stopped on track and another when Kimi Raikkonen had to do the same. The slower laps allowed the Ferraris to save their tires so that they were able to comfortably make it to the finish, with the checkered flag being waved almost on the regulation two hour mark.
his was Scuderia Ferrari’s third consecutive win, the first time that’s happened since 2008 when there were actually four in a row, in Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain and Turkey. Sebastian returned to the top step of the podium after an absence of over a year, dating back to Belgium 2018. It was his fifth win in Singapore, which is a record for any driver at the Marina Bay track. His 14th win with the Scuderia also puts him third in the list of all-time Ferrari winners between Michael Schumacher on 72 and Niki Lauda on 15. It is his 53rd win and the Scuderia’s 238th. The next round, the 16th of the season, is next weekend in Russia, at the Sochi Autodrom.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Valtteri Bottas (5th): "I was hoping for some action today, but there wasn't really a whole lot, so the race felt a bit like a long Sunday drive, just without air conditioning. We tried to create some opportunities by offsetting our tires to the cars in front and maybe get a chance to attack at the end of the race, but it didn't work out. The car felt quick today, but you need a pace delta of almost two seconds to overtake in Singapore, so we couldn't really attack the cars ahead. We have rules of engagement for our pit stops as we don't want to use them to swap position between our cars. The car ahead always gets the priority; so if the car behind stops early and undercuts, we will make sure that the other car still ends up in front. We can't be happy with our results this weekend, so we will analyze and review everything diligently as there's a lot that we can learn from qualifying and the race. We're going to Sochi next, a track that I'm usually strong at, but there are also very long straights, so we expect Ferrari to be quick again. It won't be easy, but I'm looking forward to the chance to fight again next week."
Toto Wolff, Team Principal: "It's been a disappointing weekend for us and a lot of the issues in the race today were created by our qualifying yesterday. But we also didn't do a good enough job today and we can't be satisfied with P4 and P5. The undercut was more powerful than everyone expected and it would have been the right strategy call for us. Once we had missed the chance for the undercut, we were hoping to create some opportunity later in the race by offsetting our tires, but that plan didn't work. I think we had a car capable for pole yesterday and we had an opportunity to win today, but we made too many mistakes. We're aware that we didn't deliver to the standards that we set ourselves this weekend, so we will review it and see where we can improve for Russia. These tough days are the days that make us stronger. Sochi with its long straights will be a tricky race for us, so we need to make sure we get the best out of our package and get things right."
Andrew Shovlin: "We missed an open goal today by not taking the undercut on lap 19. We had talked about it but didn't really react quickly enough to how fast Charles' tires were dropping. We decided to call Valtteri to do the opposite to Verstappen on the lap that mattered but obviously we should have made that call with Lewis, and made it late enough that they would not be able to react. That was our opportunity to win and it's upsetting when you let something like that slip through your fingers. We ended up boxing Valtteri first to avoid losing a place to Albon, which was the reason we asked him to maintain a gap, otherwise it would have forced Lewis in. With Lewis we tried to stay out to maximize the tire offset to the leading pack and see if we could get a Safety Car. We had lost the position to Vettel, but we consciously gave up the position to Verstappen to maximize this gamble. The sequence of Safety Cars at the end didn't help our cause but it probably didn't make much difference. It feels like a long time since we won a race and there's no single reason for it, there are lots of areas that we need to improve and we'll be working hard on these areas. We expect Sochi to be another tough fight, we're not taking anything for granted but we're happy that we only have to wait a few days before getting back out on track."
Charles Leclerc (2nd): "As a team, it was a positive weekend for us. Arriving in Singapore, we did not have high expectations, so bringing home a one-two finish is a pleasant surprise and also a sign that all of the hard work done by the team has paid off. That said, of course I am a bit disappointed to finish in second place. But I am certain that our race was aimed at maximizing our result as a team, which we did, and that is good. We know that we have a lot of potential and will keep working in this direction to do the best job possible at the remaining six races. Now I look forward to the next one in Russia."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: "The 1-2 today is very important to us because we achieved it in a different scenario, on a very different type of circuit to Spa-Francorchamps or Monza. The team managed the situation, the strategy and the pit stops very well. The aero update we brought here worked well and, combined with our drivers' confidence around here and the tires, that we managed to get to work properly, we actually got more than we expected today. Well done to Seb, he deserved to win! We had to bring him in first, to protect his position because Max Verstappen was about to pit and that was Seb's best chance to overtake Hamilton. Also, we knew that on the following lap we would have pitted Charles, so it was important not to stop both the drivers on the same lap. The undercut was very effective. Seb drove very fast and very well on new tires in that part of the race and gained the position to go ahead of Charles, which is part of racing. For his part, after the spectacular qualifying yesterday, Charles had a solid and consistent race. The car is good and is constantly improving and the team is working and reacting well. There's no doubt about it, we are all very happy with this victory."
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen (3rd): "Of course we always want to win but finishing on the podium and gaining one place on a track where you can't really overtake is positive. It's true that we came here hoping for more but this is still a good result for us, especially with the pace that the others had yesterday in qualifying. Most of the race was about managing the pace to keep the tires alive and luckily that worked out for me. Charles was managing his tires out front and the pace was pretty slow but that kept everyone really close and allowed me to get the undercut on Lewis. We had good pace after the pit stop and I was comfortable in third even with all the safety car re-starts until the last few laps when Lewis was pushing hard to overtake me on newer tires, but luckily we were able to hold on. I wouldn't say that today was that exciting from a racing perspective but Singapore has a lot of plus points being a street circuit, really tough on the body and just being a cool track to drive on. This wasn't exactly the weekend we hoped for but we will keep pushing before next weekend."
Alexander Albon (6th): "Most of that race was just managing my tires so it was physically easier than I expected. It was only in the last 20 laps when I was really pushing it that I could feel the strain. So, I would call it a battle of management as I started P6 and finished P6. At times it felt more like a procession than a race for me. It was also a bit frustrating as I spent the whole race stuck behind a Mercedes. As I couldn't overtake on the track I hoped that a pit stop would move me up the field but unfortunately that didn't happen and then the safety car came out a few times. In the middle stint I wanted to get past Valtteri but I didn't have the pace to overtake the Mercedes. I spent the whole race staring at a silver rear wing which wasn't that fun. When he pushed I pushed and when he saved his tires I saved mine so I felt like I was just going backwards and forwards and it almost felt like he backed me up so Lewis could get ahead. All in all for my first time here it was a positive race. My pace was a lot better so I'm definitely making progress. Even during the race I was finding little tricks to improve my speed. I was amazed by how many Thai flags were out there in the crowd so it was great to be racing here."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "It was a very interesting and strategic race. You could see early on that Leclerc in the Ferrari was managing the pace and eventually when everyone started racing from about Lap 15, the tires quickly got out of shape for some of the front runners. So we decided to pit as early as we could with Max and we found him a gap on the same lap as Vettel which brought him out just behind Hulkenberg. That cost him a little bit of time and without that, maybe he would also have been able to get ahead of Leclerc after his pit stop, but with Mercedes opting to go longer, that gave him track position with P3. From there Max was able to manage the race extremely well despite the pressure from Lewis who was on a fresher set of tires. He made no mistakes and did well to bring the car home for a podium. For Alex, it was again a very mature race from him. He was at the back of the front queue of cars and he just had to be patient. He probably didn't have a clear lap all afternoon but he managed the race and his tires very well. P6 in your first Singapore Grand Prix with the big five finishing ahead is a very solid result."
Renault Sport Formula One Team
Nico Hulkenberg (9th): "I'm happy we got something from the race, even if it's not what we wanted today. After the contact on lap one it was always going to be difficult, but we kept cool, patient and managed to take two points. We got a bit lucky with the first safety car, it ensured we could put the Mediums on and then make some progress. It's eventful here every year and you have to stay in the game. We did well to overtake – it's so difficult here - so we can be pleased with that."
Daniel Ricciardo (14th): "It was a long one today and it's a shame it ended up like that. The start was fun with some good overtakes and getting into a decent position. I gained some confidence there and got into a rhythm. We were ticking every box and really made the most of everyone being bunched up. Then it all came undone with the incident and the puncture meant our race was more or less over. We deserved a better outcome today."
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director: "There is obviously a sense of 'what could have been' today. After showing decent pace all weekend, in qualifying and during the race, two points for Nico seems a poor reward for both him and the team even if he was last after the first-lap contact with Carlos. The race was marred by many incidents, which we didn't benefit from. Daniel's comeback after his disqualification was remarkable on a track like this. Contact sent him back to square one. Once again this shows how important the starting positions. It was encouraging, however, to be back at this competitiveness level on a track which is very different from Spa and Monza. A sign that the car is better and that we must not write off this season."
Haas F1 Team
Romain Grosjean (11th): "We weren't far from points. Kevin (Magnussen) was having a great race at the beginning, he was in the top ten when I was struggling more at the back. We tried a different strategy – staying out very long on the medium tires. We were waiting for the safety car, which then actually came when I had the contact with George (Russell). I need to see the footage, but I was as left as I could be at the exit of the corner. When there's no run-off area, there's nowhere to go, so I touched the wall and we touched there – there was no more room for me to go left. We came back in the race towards the end with the other safety car periods. We battled as hard as we could, but we just had too much tire degradation at one point, so the last few laps were a bit emotional."
Kevin Magnussen (17th): "Unfortunately setting the fastest lap wasn't worth anything for me. We were fighting in the top ten but got unlucky with the safety cars. We'd been working so hard, we were doing such a good job to get into the top ten on merit – it was not with luck or lucky pitstops or anything. We had a good first lap and good pace in the car. Then we just had all these safety cars work against us. On top of that we had a plastic bag over the front wing, we had to pit to remove that. It was a disaster from there. I really feel bad as it had been a good race and the whole team did such a good job, then we get it taken away from us in a cruel way."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "Obviously, it was an exciting race for us. In the end we didn't get any points, but all-in-all I think everybody did a good job. We got a little bit unlucky, but it was a lot better than the last two races. If somebody had said that to me before the race I wouldn't have believed them. We don't have any points, we finished 11th and 17th, sometimes we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think the team did a good job. We keep our heads up, we keep going, and I know it will come back to us."
McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris (7th): "A good race in the end with decent points, and I don't think there was a lot more I could've done. We did the best we could at the start but I was just getting held up by everyone ahead, which is part of the race because everyone is trying to save tires. There were Safety Cars, sometimes helping but other times hindering, as it allowed Hülkenberg and Gasly to come behind me on the softer tire - a much fresher tire as well - and I was under quite a bit of pressure towards the last few laps. I was having to push, which was fun, because for the rest of the race we were just driving around so slowly. It was a shame about Carlos getting hit by Hülkenberg at the beginning, because I think we could both have been in the points today. Massive thanks to the team and everyone back at the factory for their hard work."
Carlos Sainz (12th): "Very disappointing end to the weekend. For the second time in a row we end up with a non-points finish when we were up for a good result. We had the start that we wanted; we were P7 attacking the Red Bull in front of us. However, into Turn Five, I got hit from behind by the Renault and that was it. We had a puncture, big car damage, a long pit-stop and I was one lap down. It's a shame because it would've been a good P7 and a double-points finish for the team. Nonetheless, we didn't give up and fought hard until the end. I felt strong physically and mentally in the car, and I'm sure we can fight back in Russia. Let's put this race behind for now and focus on next weekend."
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "A good race in the end with decent points, and I don't think there was a lot more I could've done. We did the best we could at the start but I was just getting held up by everyone ahead, which is part of the race because everyone is trying to save tires. There were Safety Cars, sometimes helping but other times hindering, as it allowed Hülkenberg and Gasly to come behind me on the softer tire - a much fresher tire as well - and I was under quite a bit of pressure towards the last few laps. I was having to push, which was fun, because for the rest of the race we were just driving around so slowly. It was a shame about Carlos getting hit by Hülkenberg at the beginning, because I think we could both have been in the points today. Massive thanks to the team and everyone back at the factory for their hard work."
Racing Point F1 Team
Lance Stroll (13th): "The race was full of action but it didn't really go our way today. I made a good start and we were looking strong. But after the Safety Car restart I made a mistake, got a bit too close to the wall and ended up with a puncture. In Singapore, it's all about keeping it out of the walls so it was hard work after that! We lost a lot of time because we had to pit for a new nose, so it was an unfortunate setback. I think we were well placed to score some points today so it's a real shame. It's a weekend to put behind us for sure."
Sergio Perez (DNF, Engine): "I'm very disappointed. It was a very demanding race, but it was a race that was coming to us. We were there and we were very patient, keeping out of trouble, which is priority number one here. We were looking very good all the way to the end and on course for some points. Unfortunately, we had an oil leak and the team told me to retire the car. It's a big shame because I feel like points were possible today."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "We were playing the long game this evening and as we approached the final third of the race it seemed as though both cars were on course to pick up points. Unfortunately things got messy during one of the Safety Car restarts when Lance clipped the wall and picked up a puncture, which ended his chances. Sergio was running in the top ten when we spotted an oil leak, which forced us to retire the car immediately to protect the power unit. So it just wasn't our day and it's a disappointing end to a challenging weekend. It's one from which to learn and we will work hard to bounce back in Russia."
Alfa Romeo Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi (10th): "It's was big battle of a race. I am happy with bringing home a point for me and the team, but I still have the feeling we could have finished higher up. We stretched our first stint on mediums longer than ideal, although it's easy to look back at it with the benefit of hindsight. Had we stopped earlier, we could have perhaps been ahead of Norris in P7. I was struggling at the end of the tires’ life and the clash with Daniel [Ricciardo] didn't help either, as I was left with damage to my front suspension for the rest of the race. The steering wheel pulled to one side and it was a real struggle, but I really wanted that point and I fought until the end for this position. Leading the race and fighting at the top against the Ferraris and Mercedes was a great feeling, and I hope someone at home took a screenshot of the standings at the time!"
Kimi Raikkonen (DNF, Accident): "Not exactly the end of the race I was hoping for but it is what it is. My tires were degrading and whilst I could manage to stay in position after the first restart, at the second the tires were too cold and so I lost three positions and from then on I was struggling. The incident with Daniil Kvyat ended my race but I was going nowhere anyway. When I looked at the straight he was quite far behind, but when I was turning in I saw him in the corner of my eye but then it was too late to react. I saw the Stewards but I don't think that there will be any consequences."
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "Finishing with one point in such a rollercoaster of a race is positive, but there is a bit of regret for how the night unfolded. Antonio ran an excellent race, hardly doing anything wrong, and had the Safety Car come out just a few laps earlier, we could have been talking about an incredible result for him. Antonio still managed to rescue a point despite a damaged car, but the feeling of "what if" remains. Kimi had also ran a very solid race, making up places from his starting position and looking set for points. Unfortunately he was caught in an accident with Kvyat when battling against degrading tires and his race was over. In the end, a point is a point but we will be aiming for more in Sochi next week."
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Pierre Gasly (8th): "I enjoyed that race so much! Things didn't really come all together with the timing of the first safety car, but the last part of the race was really exciting. The beginning went pretty well for us, and I didn't know it at the time, but we were running in P2 for a couple of laps before our pitstop, and that was cool! Then, when the safety car came out, we lost three or four positions which was a bit annoying. I gave it everything I had to pass Kimi and had a couple of exciting battles with Kevin and Lance, so it feels very good to score these points. It was a tough race, but a great result for the team in the Championship battle, as it's quite close. I'm really happy with the way we're working as a team, every weekend it gets better and we make a step forward, so we just need to keep pushing in the same direction for the next few races.
Daniil Kvyat (15th): "Today wasn't my day. When you have a race like this you just have to raise your hand, take the blame, and move onto the next one. There were chances for me to score points today but, unfortunately, I didn't take them. I got stuck behind drivers and didn't show my best driving. I don't want to make any excuse, but I also had to deal with some kind of 'fog' on my mirrors, which made it harder to defend - I just had to give more space due to the lack of visibility. Finally, the collision with Kimi damaged my car making it even harder, but at the end my race was already compromised."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Like every year, Singapore is a highlight of the season, it was a fantastic atmosphere with full grandstands, that show that the interest in Formula 1 is very high, which is pleasing. We also saw a really interesting race from the beginning onwards, with plenty of overtakes and three safety cars, which increased the drama of the race. From our side, Qualifying didn't go so well, but due to some penalties, Pierre started the race in 11th position and Daniil 14th. We decided to send them out on a different strategy, with Daniil starting on the Prime tires and Pierre on the Base. Daniil wasn't so happy with the Prime, reporting he had very poor grip level, so we called him in earlier than planned to help him find more pace. When the first safety car was deployed, we decided to change the strategy and call him in again to send him out on the Option tire. He was able to make some good overtakes with the extra grip but, unfortunately, towards the end he had a collision with Kimi Raikkonen which led him to lose some positions and ended the race P15. Pierre drove a fantastic race, he had everything under control and he was also happy with the car and strategy. He was closing the gap to Norris but couldn't manage to overtake him. Nevertheless, he finished the race in a fantastic eighth position, showing one of his best performances in a Toro Rosso car. Next week we head to Sochi and we are looking forward to having a similarly great spectacle like here in Singapore."
Jody Egginton, Technical Director: "It's been an eventful race for Toro Rosso tonight. Pierre pushed for a long opening stint and with the safety cars and good pace he showed, it played into our hands. We had a lot of tire performance available towards the end of the race and we made good use of that but we couldn't quite get past Lando at the end as he made good progress on the restarts. Pierre ended the race P8 to bring the team some valuable points. Dany's first stint on the Prime tire was a bit shorter than we wanted as the tire wear dropped quicker than expected, so we tried to get him back into the game later on by switching his strategy. Unfortunately, he had some small issues with the car and struggled with the consistency, so we've not been able to get points with him. I think overall it's been a good race as we came away with points and we didn't lose ground in the Championship, which is satisfying."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "Gasly produced some excellent overtakes, scoring a valuable four points. Kvyat's pace wasn't bad but he was unable to finish in the points. Overall, we got three of our four cars in the points, but we know we must continue to push hard to get on terms with those ahead of us."
ROKiT Williams Racing
Robert Kubica (16th): "I think I coped pretty well with all the difficulties that this race brings to the driver, to the car, and to the tires. We had a balance issue with the final set of tires, so the last 20 laps were pretty challenging. The result is not great, which we expected, but as a personal goal and achievement I think it is quite big looking at how tough this race is. I know where I was two or three years ago, and no one would have believed that I would manage to do such a good race."
George Russell (DNF, Accident): "It was a rubbish race from the start; I got sandwiched at the first corner with Robert and Daniel (Ricciardo), which was just one of those things. As the race went on our pace seemed good, but then Grosjean went for the overtake on the entry of turn eight. At the apex we were side by side, I had the inside momentum and then come to the exit I was well ahead of him. At that point it's the guy on the outside that needs to concede the corner. Next thing, his front right has hit my rear left and I am in the wall. What looked like a fairly decent weekend ended up as a missed opportunity."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "It was a long and difficult race, with three safety car deployments taking us close to the two-hour time limit. George was unfortunate at the very start as he got squeezed and damaged his front wing. He then embarked on a long stint on the Prime compound and was showing good pace in free air before his race ended in the wall following a battle with Grosjean. Robert struggled for pace in the opening stint but was happier during the second stint on the Prime compound. A series of safety cars allowed him to remain on the lead lap and with the main pack of cars. At the final restart Magnussen really struggled on his old tires and Robert was able to overtake him to finish P16. Given his difficulties with a tire balance problem on the final set of tires, he did a very good job to manage the race to the end. Although it has been a difficult weekend for the team, and we have suffered our first DNF of the season, we have nonetheless taken some useful positives from our time in Singapore, which will pay dividends in the future. It was a difficult race to manage but the team worked very well together and managed the situation well."
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