SINGAPORE STREET CIRCUIT, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90 leads Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90 during the Singapore GP at Singapore Street Circuit on September 22, 2019 in Singapore Street Circuit, Singapore. (Photo by Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images)
Scuderia Ferrari dominated the 12th edition of the Singapore Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finishing first and second.
The result was down to a perfect strategy that led to the team’s 84th one-two finish in Formula 1. The key moments were the pit stops, with Seb’s on lap 19 and Charles’ on 20. From a situation where the team was running first and third, after all the major players had pitted, the two SF90s headed the field, although now with Sebastian ahead of Charles, who had started from pole and had led the early stages of the race.
Start. The start went well, with Charles maintaining his advantage over Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian. All the way to Turn 7, the German tried to get past the English Mercedes driver but had to give best in the end. Once the race settled down, Leclerc did not push too hard, so as to save the tyres as much as possible to fit the requirement for a one-stop strategy.
On lap 19, the traffic situation looked good enough to go for the pit stops. The team therefore decided to bring in Sebastian first, as he was under threat of an undercut from Max Verstappen, who was less than a second behind. The stop was perfect and after it, Vettel had a clear track ahead of him, which meant he could push to the maximum, making ground on the rest of the field to the extent that, when Charles stopped one lap later, he found himself behind Sebastian.
Safety Car Periods. On lap 35, the Safety Car came out following the incident between George Russell and Romain Grosjean, when Vettel had around a 5 second lead over Charles, who was followed by Verstappen, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
There were two more Safety Car periods, one when Sergio Perez stopped on track and another when Kimi Raikkonen had to do the same. The slower laps allowed the Ferraris to save their tyres so that they were able to comfortably make it to the finish, with the chequered flag being waved almost on the regulation two-hour mark.
Statistics. This was Scuderia Ferrari’s third consecutive win, the first time that’s happened since 2008 when there were actually four in a row, in Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain and Turkey. Sebastian returned to the top step of the podium after an absence of over a year, dating back to Belgium 2018.
It was his fifth win in Singapore, which is a record for any driver at the Marina Bay track. His 14th win with the Scuderia also puts him third in the list of all-time Ferrari winners between Michael Schumacher on 72 and Niki Lauda on 15. It is his 53rd win and the Scuderia’s 238th. The next round, the 16th of the season, is next weekend in Russia, at the Sochi Autodrom.
Sebastian Vettel: “After yesterday, when I wasn’t able to get everything out of the car, I am pleased with the way everything went today. It was about time! The last few weeks have been far from simple for me, but in the end, I knew I could turn things around. I never stopped believing in myself and today, with the great help of the team here and in Maranello, we got the result we should always be aiming for.
“I was playing a waiting game until I got the call on the radio to pit for new tyres. I had not expected to stay out so long but the decision was key, because I was able to rejoin with a clear track ahead of me and I could run at my own pace making up ground on all the others, to the extent that I was in the lead by almost five seconds at the time the Safety Car came out. From then on, the race was continually interrupted, with a further two restarts, but I still managed to maintain concentration and avoid making any mistakes.
“It’s too early to say if this win means we can be competitive on all the coming tracks. Here, whoever is in front sets the pace, almost like in Monaco and on used tyres, Hamilton seemed stronger than us, which means we still have work to do when it comes to our race pace. Certainly, the upgrades we brought here worked well and made us competitive, which means we are working in the right direction.”
Charles Leclerc: “As a team, it was a positive weekend for us. Arriving in Singapore, we did not have high expectations, so bringing home a one-two finish is a pleasant surprise and also a sign that all of the hard work done by the team has paid off.
“That said, of course I am a bit disappointed to finish in second place. But I am certain that our race was aimed at maximising our result as a team, which we did, and that is good. We know that we have a lot of potential and will keep working in this direction to do the best job possible at the remaining six races. Now I look forward to the next one in Russia.”
Mattia Binotto Team Principal: “The 1-2 today is very important to us because we achieved it in a different scenario, on a very different type of circuit to Spa-Francorchamps or Monza. The team managed the situation, the strategy and the pit stops very well. The aero update we brought here worked well and, combined with our drivers’ confidence around here and the tyres, that we managed to get to work properly, we actually got more than we expected today.
“Well done to Seb, he deserved to win! We had to bring him in first, to protect his position because Max Verstappen was about to pit and that was Seb’s best chance to overtake Hamilton. Also, we knew that on the following lap we would have pitted Charles, so it was important not to stop both the drivers on the same lap.
“The undercut was very effective. Seb drove very fast and very well on new tyres in that part of the race and gained the position to go ahead of Charles, which is part of racing. For his part, after the spectacular qualifying yesterday, Charles had a solid and consistent race.
“The car is good and is constantly improving and the team is working and reacting well. There’s no doubt about it, we are all very happy with this victory.”