The lights shone bright on the scarlet Scuderia Ferrari car of Carlos Sainz today as the Spaniard controlled the lenghty race to win at Singapore after a long string of Red Bull victories. Lando Norris finished an unexpected second while Hamilton completed the podium after a late mistake by Russell.
With only a very small chance of rain a very challenging race awaited the drivers at Singapore with high humidity at 30°C, 37°C on track. Most drivers positioned on the starting grid on the medium compound tyre. Leclerc, Tsunoda, Piastri opted for the softs while both Red Bulls and Bottas went for the hard tyres. Zhou started from the pitlane with soft tyres. Lance Stroll did not start the race after his heavy crash in qualifying.
The start itself was surprisingly incident free with Sainz going up in front from pole. Charles Leclerc got ahead of Russell even before Turn 1 while Hamilton also looked to pass Russell and went off the circuit to avoid contact, emerging ahead of Russell in third place. George was clearly not impressed and asked “is he gonna let me get past or…”. It took a lap but Hamilton eventually did, probably looking for a decent moment to avoid losing a position to Norris. The latter wasn’t too impressed with that move and asked his team to discuss it with race control. Mercedes eventually opted to tell Hamilton to let Russell past to avoid a possible time penalty by the stewards.
Alonso and Ocon both gained a position at the cost of Magnussen who dropped to 8th. Verstappen moved into the points by passing Gasly and and then Hulkenberg, soon followed by a failled passing attempt on Magnussen. Verstappen passed Magnussen a few laps later.
For Tsunoda meanwhile the race had already ended while Zhou pitted on lap 3 to exchange his softs for hard tyres.
After 15 laps Sainz continued to lead as Ferrari opted to not let Leclerc attack the Spaniard. Leclerc was cooperative but repeatedly noted that the slower pace was a risk for him as Russell, Norris and Hamilton continued to follow easily. In the next laps it was clear that Sainz was gradually upping the pace while Leclerc backed off to allow Sainz to run away.
Alonso was a bit further down, about 3 seconds with Ocon glued to his back until the Spanaird suddenly upped the pace the next lap. Verstappen seemed to limit himself to following at about 1.7 seconds of Ocon, waiting for the medium tyres to wear out and gain some positions with a longer first stint on the hard tyres.
On lap 20 Sargeant was the first to find the barriers today. He completely overshot a corner and broke his front wing. The Williams driver managed to continue and return to the pits but the debris left on track apparently required a safety car which, of course, triggered almost everybody to make a pitstop.
Ferrari again failed to make two faultless stops and had Leclerc stood still for 5.7 seconds. Hamilton meanwhile also lost out as he had to wait in the pits for Russell while Alonso surprisingly misjudged his braking point for the pitlane entry and ended up back on track before again taking the pitlane entry. The Spaniard was given a 5s penalty for the incident moments later.
The race got going again after 2 laps behind the safety car with Sainz pulling away from Verstappen who, just like Perez, had not pitted and kept his hard tyres from the start.
Russell enjoyed much better grip on fresh hard tyres and built up the pressure to Verstappen until lap 24 when he managed to take second place away from Verstappen. Behind that battle Perez initially made it past Norris but in a four way battle including Hamilton and Leclerc as well it was Norris who eventually got the upper hand, moving on to take Verstappen’s third place the next lap.
Hamilton went on to take 5th position with Leclerc following through, demoting Perez to 7th. Alonso, Ocon,Magnussen and Gasly all followed very closely, all clearly faster than Sergio Perez. First follower Alonso though appeared to be struggling to, repeatedly missing the apex.
Lap 27 saw Hamilton overtake Verstappen with Leclerc doing the same one lap later.
Carlos Sainz meanwhile controlled the race and managed his tyres resulting in a close pack of cars behind him. As Russell, Norris, Hamilton and Leclerc were all part of that pack, Verstappen consistently lost ground but gained on Perez who was trying to keep Alonso and Ocon behind.
In lap 35 things started to improve for Alpine as Gasly finally found his way past Magnussen and quickly sprinted away to catch up with Perez, Alonso and Ocon. Two laps later Alonso finally got past Perez but was a little late on the brakes, allowing Perez to get past again and also Ocon.
It was the beginning of the end for Perez’s hard tyres though as three laps later he got passed by Ocon, Alonso and Gasly in a single lap before deciding to pit and take on a set of mediums. Verstappen did the same one lap later, bringing the Red Bulls out in 15th and 17th positions respectively.
Alpine’s improvements were short lived though as Ocon’s engine shut down while crossing the finish line to start lap 43. He parked on the side of the pit exit resulting in a Virtual Safety Car.
On the second passing Russell, Hamilton and Alonso all pitted. The Mercedes both had great stops and switched to fresh medium tyres, rejoining in 4th and 5th positions and 13s behind Leclerc. Alonso was less fortunate with the strategy call as his pitstop took a massive 25 seconds as the mechanics had trouble fitting the soft compound right tyres on the Aston Martin. Alonso rejoined the track in 15th position, 1 second behind Magnussen who had also switched to softs.
Alonso clearly have his day though as one lap later he found himself off track. Having outbraked himself while pushing he reversed and going again but not without losing two positions, dropping him to 17th and last place.
As the Mercedes were closing in to Leclerc, Sainz tried to up the pace and was told to go even faster if he could to avoid coming under attack by the Mercedes with fresher and stickier tyres.
Russell ended up in Leclerc’s slipstream 10 laps from the end and soon got past the Ferrari. The move immediately dropped Leclerc into Hamilton’s path as the latter had been closing into his team mate after coming out 5s later from that stop. Half a lap later Hamilton passed Leclerc too.
The Mercedes went on to chase the leading duo where Norris was also putting the pressure on Sainz. 5 laps from the end they were all in DRS range of each other. Norris seemed to challenge for the lead but then lost some ground to the leading Ferrari when Russell nearly took second place.
As Hamilton repeatedly noted Russell had to speed up since he felt he could go faster, the last lap would bring yet another surprise as Russell ended up going off head on into the barriers. It wasn’t a worry for Carlos Sainz who led the race from start to finish, controlling proceedings knowing on race pace alone they wouldn’t manage to do it.
Lando Norris brought home an unexpected second place while Hamilton got third thanks to a mistake of his team mate. Leclerc finished in fourth and only just ahead of Max Verstappen. Gasly, Piastri, Perez, Lawson and Magnussen completed the top 10.
|2||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||62||+0.812s||18|
|5||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||62||+21.441s||10|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||62||+38.441s||8|
|7||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||62||+41.479s||6|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||62||+54.534s||4|
|9||40||Liam Lawson||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||62||+65.918s||2|
|10||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||62||+72.116s||1|
|11||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||62||+73.417s||0|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||62||+83.649s||0|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||62||+86.201s||0|
|14||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||62||+86.889s||0|
|15||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||62||+87.603s||0|
|NC||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||51||DNF||0|
|NC||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||42||DNF||0|
|NC||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||0||DNF||0|
* Provisional results. Note – Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.