Sebastian Vettel is a race winner for the first time in 2019 after beating teammate Charles Leclerc to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen completing the top three.
It’s the first time a team has taken a 1-2 finish at Marina Bay, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas having to settle for fourth and fifth after Mercedes’s rivals got the better of them on strategy.
There was some contact at the first corner resulting in George Russell, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz all having to make pit stops at the end of the opening lap. Russell’s front wing broke when he got squeezed in between Daniel Ricciardo and Robert Kubica, while Hulkenberg punctured one of his tyres colliding with the rear of Sainz’s McLaren.
Ricciardo, having started at the back due to an infringement in qualifying, made quick progress, moving up seven places in as many laps.
Leclerc set a slow pace at the front of the field to protect his tyres as long as possible, keeping the pack bunched up. Vettel was the first of the leading six cars to come in for new tyres, and was able to get out just in front of Hulkenberg, who had already stopped. Leclerc and Verstappen followed on the next lap, but both came out behind Vettel.
Mercedes left their cars out longer, hoping clear air at the front of the field would allow them to overcut the Ferraris, but on fresher tyres the Prancing Horses were able to go faster, leaving Bottas and Hamilton to come out behind.
Hamilton’s pitstop left Antonio Giovinazzi leading the race, having started on the medium tyre, with Pierre Gasly and Ricciardo just behind. However, the Ferraris both managed to pass those on well worn tyres to return to the head of the field.
Ricciardo and Giovinazzi were the last drivers to come in for their pitstops, but Ricciardo’s hand was forced when he went wheel to wheel with the Alfa Romeo, leaving his Renault with a puncture.
Just after all cars had stopped, the safety car was deployed when Romain Grosjean tried to force his way past George Russell, turning the Williams rookie into the wall. The incident was Russell’s first F1 retirement, and Williams’s first DNF of the season.
Several drivers stopped for new softs under the safety car to put them on the fastest compound for the final third of the race, including Hulkenberg who got passed Lance Stroll on the restart. The Canadian also battled with Gasly but had to head to the pits after brushing the wall and puncturing his front left.
Just four laps after pulling off the track, the safety car was back out when Sergio Perez’s Racing Point ground to a halt on the straight, bunching the pack up again.
There was a third safety car when Daniil Kvyat looked for a way past Kimi Raikkonen. The Russian seemed to have the edge, but Raikkonen defended and the two collided, resulting in a broken suspension and a retirement for the Finn.
After the third restart, Kevin Magnussen’s tyres had nothing left, resulting in the Haas driver getting past by the entire field before coming into the pitlane for fresh tyres with four laps to go. The lap record holder around this track set the fastest lap on his new tyres, but as he finished outside the top 10 he doesn’t get the bonus point.
Alexander Albon completed the top six on his first appearance at Singapore, while Lando Norris held off late pressure from Gasly and Hulkenberg to be the highest placed driver from outside the top three teams.
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
7. Lando Norris (McLaren)
8. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
11. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
12. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
14. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
15. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)
16. Robert Kubica (Williams)
17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
George Russell (Williams)