I was planning on writing a post regarding the fact that in 2019, Charles Leclerc has become the number one driver for Ferrari. He has been outperforming his four-time world champion teammate continuously. After again taking pole in qualifying for the third time in a row I was sure his winning streak would continue. However, Sebastian Vettel made sure that his place on the team was not one of a wingman but one of a true champion. Three hundred ninety-two days since his last race win, Sebastian Vettel took the win in Singapore and what a race it was.
The key in Singapore is tyre conservation, it’s the hottest race in the calendar, and this takes a considerable toll on both the drivers and the car. So, at the beginning of the race, the front-runners were all focusing on preserving their tyres. Based on last year, missing out on a top ten spot was a significant advantage because the drivers get to choose which tyres to start on. The heat in Singapore is a problem, so starting on a very soft compound in a substantial disadvantage. Pirelli has said for this year it’s better to start on the medium compound and then move to the hard compound rather than starting on softs and changing to mediums. Despite this, the teams decided to stock up on red softs, then yellow mediums and fewer white hards.
During the first six laps, there were only 8 seconds between the top seven, the drivers were taking it slow, but this meant the pack was quite tight together. Leclerc was in the first position, with Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen behind him.
With there not being much distance between the drivers, the teams were having to try and make a decision on when to pit, so they come out in clean air. Ferrari managed to find a gap and surprisingly decided to pit Vettel first. This move would end up being a big decider In the race. I don’t think Ferrari predicted how much time Vettel would make in one lap. When they decided to pit Leclerc, he ended up coming out behind Vettel who was now also ahead of both the Mercedes.
The midfield drivers had been doing well to keep their tyres healthy, but this meant Vettel was stuck in traffic trying to pass the likes of Gasly and Stroll. Mercedes thought this would be a great time to pit Hamilton as traffic was holding up both of the Ferrari’s. But with the high-speed Vettel and Leclerc had found, Hamilton came out behind.
Meanwhile, Leclerc heard on the team radio announcing his annoyance at the strategy that put him behind Vettel.
After the midfields had to yield their positions to pit, Vettel was in first and Leclerc hot on his tail in second. Verstappen had a great race keeping up with the Ferraris ahead of the flagging Mercedes.
It wouldn’t be Singapore without at least one safety car so of course, this meant there were three. Vettel held his own despite the numerous restarts, Leclerc was trying to get close to use his DRS was it wasn’t enough, Sebastian was on fire with his head firmly in the game.
Valtteri had a great race on his own, he managed to perfect the undercut and doing everything the team was asking of him. He was running in fifth when we hear the dreaded words “hey, it’s James”. He was told to slow down for Hamilton, an order that Valtteri was sure to have taken reluctantly. Being asked to slow down for your world champion competitor must hurt. I imagine it’s not a moment that will be forgotten very quickly for Valtteri.
Grosjean decided that yet again he wanted to collide with a fellow driver to add some excitement to his race. He went into Russel, causing his race retirement. Russel was not happy at all with Grosjean’s ignorant driving; he said on the radio “I shouldn’t be surprised” sorry to say Russel, but neither are we.
After a superb race, Vettel crossed the line to take the win, Leclerc second and Verstappen third. A podium nobody thought they would see this year in Singapore. Leclerc seemed annoyed during his interviews and was not quick to make conversation with Vettel after. Leclerc had every right to be annoyed at the strategy, but Vettel deserved that win. He drove a great race, didn’t lose his nerve and made sure his car made it in once piece to take the victory.
The midfield also had a great race. Giovinazzi had a brief stint in the spotlight having the better tyres; he was able to hold his own for a good few laps.
Lando Norris was, in my opinion, the runner up for driver of the day, he had a great race coming in seventh for Mclaren. Sainz sadly had a collision early on so came in twelfth just outside the points.
Here is the full race classification:
It was clear to everyone that Vettel needed this win after Canada things have not gone to plan for the German. Everyone knows he is one of the best drivers on track, and so it was nice to see him prove this. Here is what he had to say;
“The last couple of weeks have been not the best, but it’s been incredible, to be honest, to get so much support, so many letters, so many nice messages, people telling their own stories when things might not go well and so on so it gave me a lot of strength, belief, and I tried to put it all into the track today, into the car and it’s nice when it pays off.”
“Then it’s been quite busy managing the tyres, going through traffic. I was trying to go through and slice through as quick as I can maybe to get a cushion and control it at the end. The car was getting better and better, was tricky at the restarts with cold tyres but as first car you have a bit of an advantage.”
“Obviously, the start of the season’s been difficult for us, but recent weeks I think we started to come alive. So really proud of everyone’s work back home.”
Hopefully, this win will drive on Ferrari, they are in great form and after their updates, it seems Mercedes was too quick to claim this year for the Silver Arrows. The Tifosi is back.