Red Bull's Sergio Perez wins Singapore Grand Prix despite investigation for safety car infringement
Sergio Perez won Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix in an eventful race, and kept his triumph after being investigated following a possible rule-break. The Mexican Red Bull driver led for much of the race and kept Charles Leclerc in second place after the Ferrari driver had started on pole. Max Verstappen struggled on a day when he could have won the second consecutive championship of his career.
'Super happy' - Perez responds to doubters with victory at Singapore Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez produced a stunning drive at the Singapore Grand Prix to win his fourth race in Formula One, with the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc finishing behind him in second, and Carlos Sainz taking third place at the Marina Bay street circuit.
Perez, who finished 7.5 seconds clear of Leclerc, faced a nail-biting wait for a post-race investigation to be concluded by the stewards following a safety car infringement midway through the Grand Prix, but his margin of victory meant that a five-second penalty did not change the outcome of the race. His team-mate Max Verstappen was only able to finish in seventh place, over a minute behind the leader after a difficult afternoon.
Perez started the race in second place, behind Leclerc, who took pole position in qualifying. Verstappen faced an uphill battle as he started from eighth.
Due to heavy rain and poor track conditions, the start of the race was delayed by an hour before eventually getting underway at 21:05 local time, which limited the race distance to 59 laps to meet the required two-hour time limit. All the drivers started on the intermediate tyres due to the surface water, and Perez got the ideal start to get past Leclerc into the first corner, and he remained out in front until the end of the Grand Prix.
The early portion of the race proved to be a challenge for the drivers, as they waited for the track to dry out on their intermediate tyres. George Russell, who started the race from the pit lane after taking a grid penalty, was the first driver that gambled, switching to slick tyres on Lap 22, but the track remained damp.
It was only on Lap 34 where drivers started to pit for slick tyres, with Leclerc coming in on Lap 35. However, a slow stop from the Ferrari pit crew meant he wasn’t able to undercut Perez, who maintained the lead after pitting a lap later.
The race dynamic changed again on Lap 36 as Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri went crashing into the barriers in sector two, which triggered yet another safety car. This benefitted Lando Norris in the McLaren, as was able to save time at his pit stop and emerge back out in fourth place, ahead of Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton, who was initially in P4 before the safety car was triggered, went into the barriers, costing him track position as an enforced front wing change saw him emerge back out in ninth.
On Lap 40, the safety car came in and the race resumed, with the victory still all to play for. The timer showed that there was approximately 38 minutes of running time remaining until the end. Verstappen, who tried to get past Norris for fourth place after the green flag, locked up into Turn 7, which effectively ruled out his chances of a podium finish, as he required a tyre change following a flat-spot.
It became a straight shootout between Perez and Leclerc for the victory, with the Ferrari getting the gap down to under five-tenths of a second. Unfortunately for the Monegasque driver, he was not able to make the overtake he needed, even with the help of DRS.
Then, with ten minutes remaining on the clock, Perez was informed by his race engineer that he would be investigated after the race for a safety car infringement, which saw him increase the amount of acceptable car lengths behind it at the restart in an attempt to bunch up the field.
On the 59th lap, the timer reached zero and Perez took the victory, 7.5 seconds clear of Leclerc in second.
After a heated battle on track, Verstappen got past Sebastian Vettel on the penultimate lap to finish in P7. A late mistake by Lewis Hamilton saw him finish two places behind the Dutchman, in ninth.
In total, only 14 drivers finished the Grand Prix.
DRIVER OF THE DAY - SERGIO PEREZ
Winner Red Bull Racing's Mexican driver Sergio Perez celebrates on the podium after the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix night race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore on October 2, 2022.
Image credit: Getty Images
There is a very good case to argue that the Red Bull driver produced the best drive of his F1 career this afternoon, as he managed the final stint beautifully to maintain the lead over Leclerc as both drivers were fighting for the victory on one of the most physically demanding circuits on the calendar.
Perez needed to keep the Ferrari at bay, and he did so by limiting the mistakes he made on a slippery track. It was a performance of the highest quality, and the team will be delighted that he was able to produce for them.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON AND LOST - AS IT HAPPENED
LAP 1/59 - We are underway here at Marina Bay! Perez jumps Leclerc into Turn 1 and leads into the first corner! Leclerc is in P2, Sainz is in P3 after getting past Hamilton, who ran wide. As for Verstappen, the Red Bull driver has lost four places on the opening lap!
LAP 8/59 - SAFETY CAR - The safety car is deployed after that incident as the marshals look to clear Zhou's car from the track. It also looks like Latifi will retire from the Grand Prix as the Williams mechanics cannot fix the damage on his car after that incident.
LAP 37/59 - SAFETY CAR - The full safety car has been deployed as Tsunoda's car needs to be rescued as well as the repair of the barrier. The drivers who haven't decided to pit will now benefit from a cheap pit stop under the safety car as less time is lost. This benefits Lando Norris, as he now pits for mediums! He comes back out in P4 - ahead of Verstappen!
LAP 40/59 - GREEN FLAGS! - Perez gets the field going again, and weaves from side to side down the main straight to get temperature into the tyres. The Mexican still leads, with Leclerc in P2. What a moment for Verstappen! He locks up at over 200mph into Turn 5 and he loses a total of four places! He emerges back out in P8!
LAP 43/59 - LECLERC GAINING ON PEREZ - Perez still leads, but the Ferrari of Leclerc is closing up to the Red Bull. The gap now stands at five tenths of a second.
LAP 50/59 - PEREZ SAFETY CAR INFRINGEMENT TO BE INVESTIGATED AFTER RACE - The stewards and race control have stated that the potential infringement earlier in the race from Perez will be investigated after the race, which will cause some concern for Red Bull.
OVERTAKE OF THE DAY
LAP 2/59 - Verstappen is now making some important overtakes, passing both Magnussen and Stroll on the same lap to move up into the top ten. He easily gets past Gasly down the inside of the hairpin after the Anderson Bridge.