Max Verstappen will get another shot at clinching the championship at next week’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez scored his second win of the season in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc as Max Verstappen was forced to put his championship champagne on hold after finishing seventh. Carlos Sainz in the other Ferrari was third.
- Lewis Hamilton started third but finished ninth
- McLaren finished fourth and fifth, giving them a lead over Alpine
The Mexican crossed the line 7.5 seconds clear of Leclerc after a rain-delayed race was interrupted by two safety cars and three virtual safety car periods. But his gap was slashed to 2.5 seconds in the final classification after he collected a five-second time penalty and a reprimand for falling more than 10 car lengths behind the safety car.
“It was my best performance,” said Perez. “I controlled the race. The last three laps were so intense. I didn’t feel it that much in the car, but when I got out of it, I felt it.”
“I gave everything for the win today,” added the 32-year-old who pushed all the way to the flag to pull out a gap large enough to cover the possibility of a penalty.
Singapore GP: Verstappen’s performance
Verstappen’s display under the Marina Bay floodlights earned Perez the fourth win of his career, but it also forced the former to delay his title celebrations. The Dutchman, who had started eighth after being forced to abort his fastest qualifying lap due to a lack of fuel, went into the weekend with his first shot at wrapping up a second consecutive title.
He needed to leave Singapore with at least a 138-point margin over his closest challenger to get the job done. Instead, he leaves 104 points clear of Leclerc and 106 ahead of Perez in the overall standings with five races to go.
The 25-year-old will get another shot at clinching the championship at next week’s Japanese Grand Prix, but will need to leave the Suzuka track with a 112-point margin at least to wrap up the title there.
Verstappen’s race was uncharacteristically scrappy. He lost places off the line and had worked his way up to fifth behind Lando Norris. But he locked up while attempting to pass the Briton at the second safety car restart and went straight down the run-off. He also had to make an extra stop to replace his damaged tyres.
“It’s just a very frustrating weekend,” said Verstappen. “We have five races left and we have a big lead, but I want to have a good weekend every single time.”
Singapore GP: driver ratings
Norris finished fourth ahead of his McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo, the pair handing the Woking-based team their best result of the season, which allowed the outfit to leapfrog Alpine for fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Lance Stroll took sixth ahead of Verstappen, with Sebastian Vettel putting two Aston Martins in the points with eighth.
Lewis Hamilton, one of the favourites for victory, was only ninth after a messy race. The Briton, starting third, made contact with Sainz at the start and was forced to go wide. He spent a lot of the race trying to find a way past the Spaniard’s Ferrari, but locked up on fading intermediate tyres and thumped into the barriers. The contact forced him into the pits for a new front wing.
Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten. The race ran to its two-hour time limit and finished with only 59 of the 61 laps being completed. The start of the race was delayed by just over an hour after a torrential downpour drenched the track, and only 14 cars finished.