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

Scott Mitchell
Vettel beats unhappy Leclerc in Ferrari one-two
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 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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