Max Verstappen is made to wait for the Formula One crown as team-mate Sergio Perez wins the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc… and Lewis Hamilton admits ‘I f***ed up’ after crashing
Max Verstappen was made to wait for his second world championship crown after finishing seventh in the Singapore Grand Prix, which was won by his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
The result is subject to a post-race stewards investigation for an alleged safety car infringement by Perez, whose winning margin was 7.5sec.
Verstappen went into the rain-delayed race needing to victory on the night to have any chance of completing his serene progress to his successful title defence with five rounds of this one-sided season remaining.
Sergio Perez won the Singapore Grand Prix after an impressive display for Red Bull
Max Verstappen will have to wait to confirm his championship win after an eventful evening
But the Dutchman started only eighth after he was sent out with too little fuel in qualifying and had to abort his lap, which was super-hot and would have delivered pole had it not been abandoned.
Anyway, he made a poor start and fell back to 12th. He clawed his way back to fifth before overdoing it on lap 40, taking too much speed into Turn 7. He wrecked his tyres in the endeavour and had to be reshod. It put him to the back of the field and out of the points at that stage.
He moved from ninth to eighth in the final throes, when Lewis Hamilton ran off track, and then seventh when he passed Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
Charles Leclerc started in first and chased Perez hard but could not get back in front
Fernando Alonso was forced to retire from the race in his 350th Formula One start
Now Verstappen needs to leave Suzuka, Japan, next Sunday 112 points clear of the rest. He is now 104 in front of his nearest pursuer Charles Leclerc, who finished second, ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Hamilton started third but hardly had a smooth race. Having fallen back at the start after a light brush with Sainz and spent most of the late humid night in fourth place stuck behind the Spaniard before overcooking it on lap 33 as he closed in on McLaren’s Lando Norris. Hamilton crashed into the barrier as he failed to make Turn 7 before returning ahead of six-placed Verstappen. Watch out!
But the duel that echoed of last season’s bitter dispute for the title did not last long. Hamilton came in for a new front wing and finished ninth. ‘I’m so sorry guys, I f***** it up big time,’ he said. He and Verstappen were thrown together twice more, the last time when Hamilton buckled.
George Russell had a weekend to forget and finished last of the survivors
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell had a bleak weekend. He only qualified 12th, took on a new engine that consigned him to a pit-lane start, and then ran into Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher as he struggled for his usual sure-footedness.
He finished 14th and last of the survivors. He did, however, set the fastest lap after a late tyre change.
Norris finished fourth.