Singapore Grand Prix: Vettel leads unhappy Leclerc in Ferrari 1-2

Scott Mitchell
Vettel beats unhappy Leclerc in Ferrari one-two

Sebastian Vettel scored his first Formula 1 victory in over a year as Charles Leclerc criticised a Ferrari decision he did not think was "fair" in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc led the opening phase of the race from pole position but fell behind Vettel after Ferrari brought the latter - who had been third early on - in for his pitstop first.

Vettel converted that advantage into a first win of the season to end a drought stretching back to the 2018 Belgian GP.

After being told to save his engine 15 laps from the finish, Leclerc's response to Ferrari included: "I just don't think it is fair, but I won't do anything stupid."

Max Verstappen completed the podium for Red Bull, after early second-place runner Lewis Hamilton slipped to fourth having done the longest opening stint of any of the frontrunners.

Hamilton led the pursuit of Leclerc in the opening stages, but Leclerc was managing his pace and backed up the front group.

That prevented any of the drivers from the big three teams from attempting an undercut until lap 19 of the 61, as the midfield package remained too close to the frontrunners.

Once those in the midfield started to pit, a gap emerged - and Verstappen looked set to be the first to utilise that as he complained of fading rear tyres.

At the same time, Ferrari brought in third-placed Vettel, which also gave him the chance to use fresh tyres to get ahead of Hamilton.

Leclerc stopped one later, but Vettel's pace advantage was sufficient to leapfrog his team-mate - vexing Leclerc but moving Ferrari from first and third into a provisional, net one-two.

Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton's stint out front by six laps compared to Leclerc and his pace faded considerably on ageing softs.

Hamilton's pace was so poor that Mercedes even ordered Valtteri Bottas, who had already stopped from fifth place, to back off the lap before Hamilton's pitstop to create a gap for him.

This was to prevent Hamilton losing track position to both Bottas and the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, therefore protecting fourth and fifth for Mercedes.

Once behind, Leclerc started to pressure Vettel but lost ground to his team-mate as they worked their way through the midfield cars running long.

Vettel's progress to the front included an aggressive move on Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso, and when he got into the lead he had to manage three safety-car periods.

The first of those came when Romain Grosjean and George Russell collided and the Williams was turned into the wall exiting Turn 8 on lap 36.

Vettel beats unhappy Leclerc in Ferrari one-two

Vettel faced no threat at the restart on lap 41 but the safety car emerged again three laps later, after the Racing Point of Sergio Perez stopped on the straight between Turns 10 and 11 with an unknown problem.

That car took three laps to clear, during which Leclerc requested "everything" for the restart but was told by Ferrari to manage the engine and "bring the car home".

"Yeah, I won't do anything stupid - it's not my goal," Leclerc responded.

"I want us to finish one-two, I just think it's not fair.

"This won't change, I won't be stupid."

One final safety car period stood between Vettel and victory, thanks to Daniil Kvyat lunging Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner on lap 50, breaking the Alfa Romeo's front left wheel and putting Raikkonen out on the spot.

A one-lap safety car appearance followed, after which the race continued without interruption as Vettel won by 1.6s.

Verstappen fended off Hamilton to complete the top three at a race Red Bull and Honda had hoped to challenge for victory, but a return to the podium was reward for the team's decision to stop in parallel with Vettel while running fourth early on.

Bottas finished fifth, missing out on fastest lap late on after dropping away from Hamilton to get clear air, with Albon in sixth place.

Lando Norris was an excellent seventh for McLaren. He assumed the lead of the midfield fight after team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg collided on the opening lap.

Hulkenberg dived inside Sainz at the fast Turn 4 right-hander, clobbering the right-rear of the McLaren and forcing Sainz to limp back to the pits.

Norris moved ahead of Hulkenberg when the German was forced into the pits at the end of the lap with damage, and serenely controlled the best-of-the-rest contest thereafter.

Pierre Gasly battled to eighth with a strong drive aided by a long first stint and a gutsy outside pass on Kevin Magnussen after a safety car restart.

Hulkenberg recovered to ninth ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, who led briefly as Alfa committed him to a long first stint but dropped right back at one stage after being hit by Daniel Ricciardo.

Race result

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 61 1h58m33.667s
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 61 2.641s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 61 3.821s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 61 4.608s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 61 6.119s
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 61 11.663s
7 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 61 14.769s
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 61 15.547s
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 61 16.718s
10 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 61 27.855s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 61 35.436s
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 61 35.974s
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 61 36.419s
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 61 37.660s
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 61 38.178s
16 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 61 47.024s
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 61 1m26.522s
- Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 49 Collision
- Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 42 Oil leak
- George Russell Williams/Mercedes 34 Collision

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 296
2 Valtteri Bottas 231
3 Charles Leclerc 200
4 Max Verstappen 200
5 Sebastian Vettel 194
6 Pierre Gasly 69
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. 58
8 Alexander Albon 42
9 Daniel Ricciardo 34
10 Daniil Kvyat 33
11 Nico Hulkenberg 33
12 Lando Norris 31
13 Kimi Raikkonen 31
14 Sergio Perez 27
15 Lance Stroll 19
16 Kevin Magnussen 18
17 Romain Grosjean 8
18 Antonio Giovinazzi 4
19 Robert Kubica 1
20 George Russell 0

Constructors' standings

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 527
2 Ferrari 394
3 Red Bull/Honda 289
4 McLaren/Renault 89
5 Renault 67
6 Toro Rosso/Honda 55
7 Racing Point/Mercedes 46
8 Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 35
9 Haas/Ferrari 26
10 Williams/Mercedes 1

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