- Rate the race and Driver of the weekend: Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore 2019.
Mean reader score: 6.09 Rated 8/15 races so far this season
This year’s score of 6.09 has only been beaten by the 6.77 from 2016. 2019 rated much higher than the very poor score of last year (4.14), the 5.56 of 2015 and 5.62 from 2014. So, what went right this year? Well, it seems as if the aerodynamic upgrades brought by Ferrari worked very well, thank you very much, as Ferrari took their third win of the season, their third consecutive win and the first ever 1,2 finish (by any team, ever) here in Singapore.
This track (without the aero upgrades) was not thought to have been particularly well suited to the Ferrari car. With the track having 23 turns, Red Bull and Mercedes had been considered favourites for this race.
Strategy played a big part in this race, mostly because few people could work out what was going on. The pit lane in Singapore is very long and with the speed limit in the pit lane being pretty slow, the cost per pit stop was about 27 seconds, so the teams were aiming for a one stop race.
The upshot of this was the front runners were in tyre saving mode, bunching up the cars, not allowing a gap to open up for an undercut to be attempted, and the fastest laps were being set by the midfield cars. The procession continued for about nineteen laps until Vettel made a last-minute pit stop, covered by Verstappen, who did the same. Vettel came out ahead of Hulkenberg, Verstappen did not.
Vettel was in clear air and did a fast out lap, so that, when Leclerc pitted from the lead of the race on the next lap, he came out of the pits behind his team-mate, so Vettel had effectively undercut the other Ferrari driver. Controversial? (unconventional, certainly). Well, we’ve not heard Leclerc complain much at all, but he made up for it this race, repeatedly claiming it was ‘not fair’ and asking for ‘everything they’ve got’ in an attempt to re-take the lead, until eventually, the team principal spoke to him (in Italian) and effectively told him to shut up.
There were some good mid-field scraps, a few spins, unforced errors, yellow flags and the expected safety car (three, actually). Albon came sixth, Lando Noris seventh, Gasly won four points for Toro Rosso, and Hulkenberg, who may be without a seat next year, beat his team mate as well.
Giovinazi won a point for Alfa Romeo and Kevin Magnussen won the Fastest lap award (although, not finishing in the top 10, he didn’t score any points for it). Let’s not forget Mercedes who came fourth and fifth and of course Verstappen who took the third podium position.
Driver of the Weekend: Sebastian Vettel, 47.18% of Reader Vote.
Vettel hasn’t had the easiest of times these past few weeks, but he made up for it this weekend. From the instant the race started he was chasing Hamilton, and nearly took P2 in the first lap, but it was not to be. Tootling along in the procession, Vettel was first to bite the bullet and take a risk that paid off handsomely, effectively taking the lead of the race, as those who were in front of him had not yet pitted.
Not being satisfied with that, he took the actual lead by overtaking the front runners. His luck was not to last, though, as any lead he made was taken away by not one, but three safety car periods, allowing his rivals to catch up.
Being at the front of the pack, he was able to control the re-starts and maintain his position, which led to his first ‘proper’ win of the season (let’s not forget he was first past the chequered flag in Canada but had that win annulled by the addition of a five second time penalty).
Not only that, but Ferrari had their first 1,2 finish of the season and Mercedes failed to make it onto the podium. Too little, too late for this season? We’ll just have to wait and see- not much longer, though, Russia is next weekend.
This was Vettel’s fifth win here in Singapore, and he dedicated it to his fans from whom he had received many letters and messages of support. Well done Sebastian!! Never Underestimate Vettel.