Sebastian Vettel claimed his first F1 race victory in over a year as made the most of a strategical call by Ferrari to win the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc had claimed his fifth pole of the season, and his third in succession, with an unexpected performance in qualification and looked in a strong position to win a third Grand Prix in a row after wins at Spa and Monza.
However, Ferrari made the call to pit Vettel before Leclerc, with the German claiming P1 ahead of his teammate. It was a position he held all the way to the chequered flag with the help of three safety car periods.
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Max Verstappen completed the podium with Lewis Hamilton and Valteri Bottas finishing fourth and fifth in what was a rare disappointing weekend for Mercedes. Nonetheless, Hamilton remains 63 points ahead of the pack in the drivers standings.
DRIVER OF THE DAY - Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
The four-time world champions’ season has so far been defined by mistakes and points penalties. But Vettel demonstrated the sort of composure that not so long ago established him as a legend of the sport, making the most of the strategy call by his team to claim his first race victory in over a year. This was a long time in coming for the German.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON
21/61 - Vettel and Verstappen into the pits! The Ferrari and the Red Bull dive into the pits and it's a very quick stoppage from Verstappen and his team! Vettel comes out in front of Hulkenberg, but Verstappen doesn’t!
22/61 - Leclerc into the pits! The race leader dives into the pits, but Hamilton and Mercedes have made the decision to stay out for at least another lap! Leclerc comes out BEHIND Vettel! It hasn't worked! Oh boy!
23/61 - Hamilton is staying out! "Opposite to Leclerc" the world champion was told as Leclerc pitted, but Mercedes have decided to keep Hamilton out for even longer. They're waiting for an opportunity.
28/61 - Hamilton into the pits! Finally, Mercedes get the world champion in! Hamilton comes out well behind Vettel, Leclerc and Verstappen, but he manages to hold his position from Bottas. He's in P8.
37/61 - Safety car! The safety car has indeed been deployed after that incident involving Russell and Grosjean. This could be a big moment in this race. Who will this benefit at the front of the pack?
45/ 61 - Perez out! The Racing Point car the Mexican is driving has experienced mechanical problems and he is out of this race! We will have another safety car as they get Perez's car off the track.
53/61 - Safety car in! We are racing again, but we're not right up against it to beat the two-hour time limit! We expected a duel to materialise at the front of the pack, but have three safety cars given Vettel the win?
VETTEL WINS THE SINGAPORE GP! It's a 1/2 finish for the Ferraris. Verstappen completes the podium lineup by crossing the line in third with the two Silver Arrows behind him. Vettel is finally a winner again!
PIT EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
“I want us to finish 1/2, but I just don’t think it’s fair,” Leclerc raged as it dawned on him that the pit stop strategy call from Ferrari had cost him the race victory. “To be honest with you I don't understand the undercut,” the 21-year-old simmered. The Ferrari race debrief could be an explosive one despite claiming P1 and P2.
The scrap we all anticipated at the front of the pack between the Ferraris, the Mercedes and Verstappen never materialised, but there was plenty of racing in the middle of the pack. The best pass was made by Sergio Perez on Daniil Kvyat, with the Mexican setting the racing line down the outside before diving inside. It was a great move.
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