The return of the night race saw the deployment of multiple safety cars due to rain
Summary of the race
The race was delayed an hour due to heavy rain meaning all of the drivers started on the intermediate tire. Charles Leclerc started on pole, but Sergio Perez overtook him at the start. Max Verstappen and Kevin Magnussen had contact on the first lap. Carlos Sainz overtook Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris overtook Fernando Alonso, making it interesting at the front. Sebastian Vettel held back Verstappen for the first couple laps as he didn’t have a great start due to an anti-stall. A black and orange flag was issued to Magnussen on lap 7 as he had front wing damage from the earlier contact. In addition, on lap 7 Zhou Guanyu was squeezed into the wall by Nicholas Latifi leading to a safety car. On the same lap George Russell overtook Valterri Bottas and had contact, so Russell took the slip road.
The safety car ended on lap 10, leading to Verstappen overtaking Vettel & Pierre Gasly on lap 11. Alonso then held back Verstappen successfully, but on lap 21 Alonso’s engine lost power. This led to another safety car, and Russell pitted. He was the first driver to change from intermediate on to medium tires, which proved not great for him. The safety car ended on lap 23. Then, Alex Albon crashed into the wall on lap 26 where he lost his front wing and drove back to the pits to retire. This led to the first virtual safety car. Esteban Ocon’s engine also lost power, so he drove off track on lap 28. This meant there was another virtual safety car. During this Verstappen and Norris were side by side, but Verstappen was a bit too fast and had to brake to avoid crashing.
Hamilton crashed into a wall on lap 33, but managed to rejoin the race ahead of Verstappen, and behind Norris. He came out of the crash with a damaged left front wing. All of the drivers began to pit from lap 34-7 and change their intermediate tires as the track began to dry out. Most pitted onto medium tires, but Daniel Ricciardo and Magnussen pitted onto soft tires. Yuki Tsunoda crashed lap 36, leading to the final safety car being deplored. Verstappen tried to overtake Norris yet again, but failed and went into the slip road and fell to 8th.
Then, Russell tried to overtake Mick Schumacher, but they had contact. They both got a tire puncture and proceeded to pit. DRS was finally enabled with 27 minutes of the race left. Russell pitted with 10 minutes left onto soft tires and successfully got the fastest lap. Verstappen passed Hamilton and Vettel on the very last laps of the race, finishing in 7th. Due to the multiple safety cars the full 61 laps weren’t completed. In the end Perez, Leclerc and then Sainz stood on the podium. Perez was investigated for safety car infringements and got two warnings and a five second time penalty. His win still remained intact as he finished seven seconds ahead of Leclerc.
Perez’s win highlighted his strength at street circuits with his win at Monaco, his pole at Saudi Arabia and his 2nd place at Azerbaijan. Perez had a great performance, successfully defending against Leclerc. They both pushed extremely hard, but Leclerc made a couple mistakes and couldn’t overtake. His teammate Verstappen had a less great race and was unable to overtake in this difficult and tight circuit. He only gained one position from his qualifying position, which is unlike his performance in Hungary and Belgium. His 7th place finish meant that he was unable to secure the world championship at this race.
Ferrari had their first double podium since Miami, with Perez being the Red Bull driver on the top step rather than Verstappen. Their strategy this race was good, but they unfortunately had a bad pit stop with Leclerc because he slipped and missed the pit stop mark by a bit. Leclerc consistently had a lead over Sainz as he struggled a bit more. Leclerc is still 2nd in the championship with two more points than Perez. Sainz is now one point away from Russell in 4th. Ferrari increased their gap in the constructors championship as they are now 66 points ahead of Mercedes.
Mercedes had a very poor performance in this race, disrupting their successes since coming back from the summer. Russell was unable to overtake since he started in the pit lane with engine penalties and finished last. He broke his consistent streak of finishing in the top five every race besides his DNF in Silverstone. This shows the demands of the Singapore circuit and its difficulty in overtaking. Hamilton’s errors meant he finished in 9th which is a drop from his qualifying position of 3rd. Ultimately, Mercedes will want to forget this weekend and hope for a better performance in Japan.
McLaren had a great time this weekend finishing in 4th and 5th. This is also their first double top 5 finish this year. Ricciardo had an amazing race considering his starting position in 16th. He overtook multiple cars at the start with a great start. Ricciardo also managed to do this in a car that did not have the upgrades that Norris did. McLaren was patient and played the long game, with great strategy and tire management. Norris defended consistently against Verstappen in a slower car, showing his skill and talent.
Alpine and Williams both had the worst performance as both of their cars didn’t finish. Alpine had clear engine issues, but Williams’ lack of points was due to driver error. Alonso became the most experienced F1 driver as this entry became his 350th GP start. This also meant that Alpine was unable to fully see how their new floor could perform. Haas also will wish to move on as neither of their drivers finished in the points. Furthermore, Alfa Romeo finished just outside the points with Bottas in 11th.
Aston Martin had a great performance in this race with both drivers finishing in the points. Vettel managed to finish 8th showing his skill at this challenging track, but a step down from his win with Ferrari back in 2019. Alpha Tauri had a disappointing performance compared to their great qualifying. Gasly managed to grab the last point in 10th. In conclusion, I would rate this race a 6/10. The last part of the race was quite eventful and enjoyable to watch but the lack of overtaking is the main reason for this rating.