The amazing qualifying performance delivered by the SF90 and by Charles Leclerc put Ferrari on pole for the Singapore GP. This tense and strategy-driven race sees Sebastian Vettel prevailing in front of a dissatisfied Leclerc. Max Verstappen follows in P3, while both Mercedes are failed by their pit stop strategies.
Lights go out for Ferrari at the Singapore GP
Under the floodlights of Marina Bay, Charles Leclerc comfortably retains the first position while Hamilton and Vettel heavily battle for P2. Positions in the top 6 remain unchanged. Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg both suffer a contact on the first lap, dropping far back. After an initial cooling lap, the gaps between the top three drivers start to reduce: Singapore, however, is not generous with overtaking opportunities.
Despite the twisty and long layout, Daniel Ricciardo is able to gain 8 positions in just 11 laps. Starting from P20 after a MGU-K irregularity caused his disqualification from qualifying, the Aussie makes the best use of his proverbial late-braking racecraft.
The pit carousel: time lost
The Singapore GP has always been a strategy-driven marathon. Therefore, it comes at no surprise that pit windows are managed carefully. A good part of the midfield, fitting Medium tyres, start pitting around lap 16. The guys in front, however, decide to prolong their stint to the extreme, dropping lap times in the meantime.
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen are the first to break the ice at the top, pitting at lap 10 for Hard tyres. Leclerc follows at lap 21, but Vettel manages to bring the undercut home. In a race against time (and the midfield), Lewis Hamilton stops at lap 26 and emerges way behind Verstappen.
Safety Car spree: Ferrari exploits the Singapore GP
A mid-race contact between Grosjean and Russell triggers a Safety Car, with the Williams driver out of contention. When the Safety car reenters the pits, Vettel is able to maintain the lead while disaster hits both Racing Point cars. A puncture and a mechanical failure force Lance Stroll on P18 and Sergio Perez to retire, while the Safety Car is out again. Another restart stirs the fight in the midfield, while the top 6 consolidates positions.
A third Safety Car follows a contact between Raikkonen and Kvyat. The Finn breaks the front left suspension and retires. The race risks ending with a time-out, as the leader might not be able to complete the 61 laps in two hours. Sebastian Vettel, however, brings home the chequered flag just in time, while Verstappen holds tight defending from a final attack on Hamilton's side.
Words by Aurora Dell’Agli