Formula 1

Formula 1: Perez wins wild Singapore Grand Prix

Featured image credit: @f1 official twitter

Sergio Perez scored his second Formula 1 victory of the season in a rain-delayed and incident-filled Singapore Grand Prix.

But the Red Bull Racing driver faces a post-race investigation for a potential safety car infringement.

A huge downpour delayed the start by over an hour, with the race eventually ending at its three-hour time limit after a number of safety car and virtual safety car interventions.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc came home second, having been Perez’s only real challenger throughout, with his team-mate Carlos Sainz having a largely lonely run to third.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton both went off in the slippery conditions and finished seventh and ninth respectively.

Perez gains early advantage as Verstappen struggles

The race eventually started on a wet but drying track, with all drivers fitting intermediate tyres.

Perez made the better launch from the front row to beat polesitter Leclerc into turn one, while Hamilton suffered wheelspin and conceded third to Sainz, the pair making minor contact through the first two corners.

Sainz and Hamilton struggled early on, the latter complaining of a lack of grip from his tyres, as Perez pulled out a one-second lead over Leclerc.

Verstappen made a poor start from eighth and lost four places, and had a close call on the opening lap when he touched wheels with Kevin Magnussen. The Haas driver then suffered minor front wing damage while trying to pass Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, with Verstappen moving past the pair on lap two before soon taking ninth away from Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.

After qualifying 11th, George Russell started from the pitlane following an engine change. As the Mercedes driver tried to climb through the field he outbraked himself trying to pass Valtteri Bottas, making slight contact with the Alfa Romeo driver before spinning and then rejoining.

Latifi and Zhou collide, Perez maintains advantage

The safety car was deployed on lap nine when Bottas’s team-mate Guanyu Zhou stopped with suspension damage following a collision with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, who crawled back to the pits with a puncture before also retiring.

Magnussen used the opportunity to pit to replace his damaged front wing, while the rest of the field stayed out.

The race resumed two laps later, with Perez almost immediately regaining his 1s advantage. As the track continued to dry, he extended his lead to almost 3s by one-third’s distance.

His team-mate Verstappen made swift progress at the restart, almost immediately passing Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and then diving inside Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly later in the lap to climb to seventh.

The Dutchman soon reeled in Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who proved a far more difficult driver to pass.

Double engine woe for Alpine, Russell makes early tyre gamble

Alonso pulled off the circuit with an engine problem on lap 22, triggering a virtual safety car period.

Stuck behind Bottas near the rear of the field, Russell made a bold call pit for slicks, almost spinning on returning to track. He then struggled for pace once the green flag running resumed.

There was another brief VSC when Alex Albon locked up and hit the wall, the Williams driver returning to the pits with his front wing missing, but his car was too damaged to be able to continue.

Racing resumed for a brief period before a spectacular engine failure put Alpine’s Esteban Ocon out, causing a third VSC.

There was a misunderstanding once the caution period ended, with Verstappen almost clattering into the back of Lando Norris, who had been running in fifth since the start of the race.

Hamilton crashes as slick tyre window arrives

The drama continued, with Hamilton outbraking himself into turn seven while pressuring Sainz before sliding into the barriers. Miraculously, he was able to rejoin with minor front wing damage in between Norris and Verstappen.

Verstappen started to lose time behind Hamilton, whose front wing gradually disintegrated further, enabling Norris to edge clear.

With Russell finally starting to show pace at the rear of the field on his slick tyres, Leclerc came into the pits to switch the medium compound tyres, as did Hamilton, who also was fitted with a new front wing. Perez and Sainz did the same on the next lap, with Leclerc resuming his position in between the pair.

But the safety car was almost immediately deployed once more after Tsunoda crashed into the barriers moments after emerging from the pits on slicks. Still to stop, McLaren duo Norris and Daniel Ricciardo used the caution period to switch to slicks, with Norris maintaining fourth and Ricciardo – who gambled on soft compound tyres – climbing to sixth behind Verstappen.

Perez fends off Leclerc as Verstappen recovers from mistake

With the race now approaching the three-hour time limit, the race resumed with 35 minutes left on the clock. And immediately there was yet more drama.

Verstappen went for a lunge on Norris into turn seven but suffered a huge lock-up and ended down an escape road. He returned to the track just ahead of Hamilton in eighth, but then headed for the pits to replace his flatspotted tyres, emerging down in 11th on soft compound tyres..

Having taken on a second set of medium tyres, Russell’s difficult evening continued, suffering a puncture in a collision with Haas driver Mick Schumacher and being forced into a third pitstop.

Leclerc ramped up the pressure on Perez, with the pair both pushing to the limit. But Leclerc eventually locked up and ran wide.

After being placed under investigation for a potential safety car infringement, Perez was pulled out more than a 5s lead – potentially crucial should the Mexican be penalised post-race – and eventually finished 7.595s clear of Leclerc.

Sainz came home a further 8s adrift, with Norris fourth and Ricciardo a long way behind in fifth.

Verstappen recovered to ninth in the closing stages before closing on Hamilton, who was stuck behind Aston Martin duo Stroll and Vettel.

Hamilton tried to pass Vettel, but ran wide on the wet side of the track, allowing Verstappen to sweep past. Verstappen then took seventh away from Vettel before the finish, as Stroll remained ahead in sixth.

Gasly scored the final point in 10th ahead of Bottas and Magnussen, with Schumacher finishing in a lapped 13th. Russell was the final finisher in 14th, two laps down, but denied Perez an additional point late on by setting the fastest lap.




Featured image credit: @f1 official twitter

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