Singapore was the first ever night race on the F1 calender when it made its debut on the calender ten years ago in 2008. That race sadly became famous for the “crashgate” scandal involving the Renault F1 team rather then actually being a good race. The streets of singapore are lined with thousands of lightbulbs creating a fantastic specticle. Everyone knows that the only thing better than F1 is F1 at night! In qualifying Lewis Hamilton put in one of the best qualifying laps that I have ever seen to clinch pole position with Max Verstappen’s Red Bull in 2nd. Sebastian Vettel was dissapointed with 3rd in his Ferrari and would be looking for damage limitation during the Grand Prix. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen was in 5th with the first Haas of Grosjean in 8th. Leclerc and Ericsson’s Saubers were in 13th and 14th respectively. Pierre Gasly was 15th and Kevin Magnussen was 16th. Brenden Hartley was 17th.
The race began and there was first lap drama when Sergio Perez squeezed out his teammate Estuban Ocon and they touched. This ended with Ocon in the barriers and it brought out the safety car. Just before the safety car was officially brough out, Vettel was able to get past Verstappen into 2nd. The only driver to pit under safety car was Sirotkin, who went on to the soft tyres to try and get to the end of the race. He also had some debris in his front wing which needed to be removed. By lap 5 we were racing again and we were send straight into a game of “cat and mouse” between the leaders as they all traded fastest laps. It was Hamilton who led from Vettel from Verstappen now in 3rd. Bottas was 4th with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in 5th. Grosjean was holding his grid position in 8th Gasly was 12th, Leclerc 13th, Ericsson 14th and Magnussen 15th. Hartley was in 16th.
By lap 15 Ferrari decided to pit Sebastian Vettel to try and do the undercut on Lewis Hamilton. However, this was doomed from the beggining. The first issue was that Ferrari put on the Ultrasoft tyres that wouldn’t make it to the end of the frace. They were faster in the short term; however they didn’t have the tyre life of the soft. So pitting for another set later on in the race would be slower than doing the rest of the race on one set of softs. Number two was that Lewis Hamilton had found some pace and the undercut would never work due to this. Hamilton pitted on the next lap and came out in 5th whilst Vettel was 7th. Hamilton would be able to go to the end on the soft tyres. A lap later, Vettel got past Perez at turn 1 into 6th place to try and mount an attack on Hamilton. Bottas also made a pitstop on this lap for Mercedes and he came out in 7th. Romain Grosjean also made a pitstop from 8th and came out in 17th. This meant that Max Verstappen now led the race in his Red Bull.
Verstappen’s lead was short lived. He pitted on lap 18 and despite having drive issues in the pitlane, he came out ahead of Vettel. On lap 20 it was Raikkonen leading from Ricciardo. They hadn’t pitted however and they were still on old hypersoft tyres. Hamilton was 3rd and in the effective lead of the race followed by Verstappen and Vettel. Pierre Gasly was 9th and Charles Leclerc was 10th with his teammate Ericsson in 11th. Magnussen was 12th with his teammate Grosjean stuck in 18th place. Brenden Hartley’s Toro Rosso was 19th.
Lap 22 saw one of the stories of the race start to unfolod; when Sergio Perez came up behind the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin. Perez was glued to the back of the Williams but he just couldn’t find a way past at this moment in time. The next lap finally saw Raikkonen stop and hand the race lead to Ricciardo before he made his stop handing the lead back to Lewis Hamilton. Meanwhile things were hotting up in the battle for 15th between Perez and Sirotkin. Sirotkin was going as fast as possible however the Williams was so much slower than the next slowest car. Perez complained and complained to race control until he finally made the move on Sirotkin. He then used his anger on Sirotkin and drove into the side of him. This gave him a puncture and then a drive through penalty to add to Racing Point Force India’s troubled day.
Then apart from many a new lap record being set by many different drivers (the fastest was done by Kevin Magnussen) there was not much more action. There were penalties given out to Sirotkin for forcing Hartley off the track and Grosjean for ignoring blue flags. This gave the race some hope as Verstappen closed right up to Hamilton however Hamilton still streaked away for what was a relatively easy race win for him. Verstappen was 2nd and Vettel was dissapointingly 3rd. The two Fins were 4th and 5th, with Bottas winning that particular battle over Raikkonen with Ricciardo in 6th. Alonso put in a fantastic drive to finish 7th with Sainz 8th, Leclerc 9th and Hulkenberg 10th. Ericsson was 11th backing up a strong weekend for Sauber whilst Grosjean in 13th highlighted a poor one for Haas. Gasly was 14th with his teammate Hartley in 17th. Magnussen despite setting the lap record was 18th.
Quite a boring race in my opinion however some good results and poor results have come out of it. Hamilton leads the championship by 40 points over Vettel meaning that it doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy for Vettel to get his way back into the fight.
Other Drivers of Note
Max Verstappen: (Red Bull P2)
Max has recieved a lot of criticism during the year but he showed real maturity in the way he drove during the Grand Prix which helped him to the podium. Well deserved.
Fernando Alonso: (McLaren P7)
Best of the rest for Fernando! After what has been a very frustrating year for ‘Nando he showed he still has it during this race. Really impressed by his drive and I want to see more of this in the future.
Charles Leclerc: (Alfa Romeo Sauber P9)
Another fantastic drive but are we even suprised by him at this stage? I’m starting to think he is one of the best and I can’t wait for him to be in a red suit next year.