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Vettel wins in Singapore


It was the legendary Tottenham player, Jimmy Greaves, who famously described football as a "funny old game".

On the evidence thus far this weekend, the same might be said of Formula One, and certainly the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

We were constantly informed that this would be the 'Max and Lewis Show', and that the best Ferrari could hope for was 'best of the rest' going Charles Leclerc's way, while the British media anticipated further twisting of the knife as the Vettel Saga continues.

Based on Friday's evidence it appeared they were right, Hamilton and Verstappen in a league of their own and the highest placed Ferrari (Vettel) almost a second off the pace.

The Italian team had brought a raft of updates, but it appeared that it was a case of too little, too late on this most demanding of circuits.

But then, like all the best dramas, came the twist, for on Saturday, Ferrari came into its own, and suddenly the Maranello outfit doesn't only appear to be on course for a third successive win, but, according to Toto Wolff, a major threat for the remainder of the season.

For once, the Austrian's annoying underdog stance appears to have an edge of genuine fear to it.

Of course, even if the Ferrari is not a good all round car, the Italian team has a reputation for shooting itself in the foot, but that aside, what wouldn't we all give for a serious challenge to Hamilton and his team in the remaining races.

Naturally, one can never write either Hamilton or Mercedes off, but that irregularity with the fuel temperature on the Briton's car at the start of the weekend was a possible hint that all may not be well.

As for Red Bull, even the team is at a loss to explain why it is not up where we all expected it to be.

That said, qualifying and the race are two entirely different things, and the Singapore script rarely goes to plan.

Once again, McLaren out-paced its engine supplier, Renault, the French team further frustrated by the stewards decision that relegates Daniel Ricciardo to the back of the grid, following an MGU-K issue that apparently gave him an advantage of one millionth of a second.

While Ferrari improved dramatically from Friday to Saturday, the likes of Haas didn't, and but for Williams the American outfit would be looking at a long, lonely evening ahead.

Assuming, Renault will battle McLaren, we can anticipate some fun and games behind as Racing Point, Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo get stuck in.

Always good value for money, king of the late brakers, Ricciardo should be fun to watch as he seeks to carve his way through the field, however, with every running of this event having witnessed at least one safety car, nobody should be taking anything for granted and remember that no race can be won on the first lap... or even the second.

The theoretically fastest strategy for the race, which is likely to go to the full two hours, is a one-stopper - but with 18 safety cars since the first race in 2008, anything can, and usually does, happen.

The best way is to start on the softs for 16 to 20 laps and then switch to the mediums. An alternative strategy (for those starting outside the top 10), which is very closely matched on time, is to start on the mediums for 28 to 32 laps, and then go to hard. The slowest one-stopper is soft to hard, changing after 14 to 18 laps.

On paper, a two-stopper is definitely slower, but the way to do it would be two stints on the softs of 12 to 14 laps each, and a final run to the flag on mediums.

All that aside, with the last three Singapore Grands Prix having witnessed a safety car on the opening lap, all that could go out the window within moments of the race getting underway.

The pitlane opens and the cars begin to head out. Air temperature is currently 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is 37.3 degrees.

With ten minutes before the start, there's late drama involving Leclerc's car which is said to have an ECU issue. However, a thumbs-up suggests the matter has been resolved. Still, late dramas like this hardly boost your confidence.

All ten leading qualifiers are starting on the softs, however, the rest, including Giovinazzi, who takes Ricciardo's place in tenth, in on mediums, while Gasly is the sole runner on hards. At the back of the grid, Ricciardo is now on mediums.

Leclerc heads off on the parade lap, the rest of the field following obediently behind.

The grid forms.

They're away! Leclerc gets away well, as does Vettel behind, however, Hamilton is able to hold off the German into T1. Vettel is all over the Mercedes, first going to one side then the other, but the world champion keeps him at bay. The Ferrari has the speed, but the Briton the track position.

At the end of the opening lap, it's: Leclerc, Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, Bottas, Albon, Norris, Giovinazzi, Magnussen and Gasly. Hulkenberg pits, with a front-left puncture following a collision with Sainz, as do Russell and the McLaren driver who also has a puncture. A new front wing for the Williams driver, while it is a disastrous stop for the Spaniard, who rejoins a lap down.

Ricciardo is already up to 15th.

Now 1.2s clear of Vettel, Hamilton posts a fastest lap (48.666) as he sets about closing the 1.6s gap to the race leader.

As the stewards confirm they are investigating the Hulkenberg/Sainz incident, Hamilton closes on Leclerc and Verstappen on Vettel. Ricciardo passes Perez for 14th.

"There is something wrong," warns Sainz, but he is told all is OK and that his suspension is not damaged.

Down in 18th, lap 5 sees Hulkenberg post a new fastest lap (48.645). The German is now on the hards, as are Russell and Sainz.

Norris remains best of the rest, ahead of Giovinazzi, Magnussen and Gasly.

Ricciardo passes the second of the Racing Points to claim 13th as the stewards decide that the Hulkenberg/Sainz clash was a racing incident.

The leading six are covered by 6s as Leclerc goes only as quickly as he needs, the Monegasque controlling the pace from the front.

Raikkonen feels that he too may have some damage from the first lap incident.

"I really can't go much slower," says Hamilton.

A great scrap between Ricciardo and Kvyat, with Stroll just behind. The Australian makes a typically bold move on the Russian at T13 and before Kvyat can recover he is passed by Stroll also.

Bottas is told to try and cool his front-left.

A lap after being passed by Ricciardo and Stroll, Kvyat loses out to Perez at T14.

"This pace is good," Grosjean is told, "people at the front on softs are starting to struggle."

Kvyat pits at the end of lap 12, rejoining in 18th on hards.

"Already we've seen some stops for the hard tyre," says Pirelli. "In theory, drivers will struggle to make it to the end of the race on this (we don't really have the data) but this is Singapore. Anything can happen."

Next time around, Perez pits, rejoining in 17th, just ahead of Kvyat.

Hamilton is told that other soft runners are feeling a drop in performance.

At the rear of the field, Kvyat is lapping 2s quicker than the leaders as he posts a new fastest lap (47.419).

Check out our Sunday gallery from Marina Bay, here.


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1. Posted by Tardis40, 23/09/2019 4:02

"Now that was a proper podium."

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2. Posted by Egalitarian, 23/09/2019 0:37

"I wonder if Steiner is already regretting his decision to retain Grosjean. I noticed a few avoiding him (Grosjean) as much as possible. "

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3. Posted by Barslug, 22/09/2019 19:05

"Well, that was the most boring Singapore Grand Prix in recent memory. I spent most of the time watching the battle in P13-17! Yawn. "

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4. Posted by moonrover, 22/09/2019 17:05

"there are hundreds of good F1 sites, but always the Pitpass' articles stand tall. nice reading. couldn't agree more on everything. "

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5. Posted by Lapps, 22/09/2019 16:28

"I suspect Charles has just discovered “you can’t fight City Hall”. At Monza he had told the Team that ‘circumstances’ prevented him giving Seb a tow in qually as planned. So now the Team is telling him that ‘circumstances’ lead to Seb being given a faster tyre strategy!
I still believe Charles is Ferrari’s future, but there are lessons to learn. "

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