Race: Sergio Perez beats Charles Leclerc in a tension-fraught Singapore Grand Prix

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez congratulations from a Red Bull mechanic. Singapore October 2022

Sergio Perez claimed his second win of this season in a rain-affected Singapore Grand Prix, a deluge in the build-up delaying the start with the track slow to dry and causing headaches up and down the pit lane.

Perez pulled ahead of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc into the first corner, setting himself up for the win with the Ferrari driver never quite in the position to fight back.

Carlos Sainz made it a double podium finish for Ferrari with championship leader Max Verstappen unable to wrap up the title, his winning run ending with a P7.

The start of the grand prix was delayed as a deluge hit the circuit some 90 minutes before the scheduled start. Chucking it down and with lightning brightening the sky, the FIA delayed the start procedure by a little over an hour.

The 19 drivers on the grid, plus George Russell starting from the pit lane after Mercedes fitted his W13 with a new PU, all started on the intermediate tyres.

Perez got the jump on Leclerc into the first corner, Sainz and Lewis Hamilton making contact as the Spaniard took third, and Verstappen, tangling with Kevin Magnussen, falling to P12 as he got bogged down off the line. Alex Albon fell to the back of the grid as he spun.

As Verstappen’s two main title rivals ran first and second, Verstappen overtook Magnussen, then Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda to run P9 after four laps.

The Safety Car was out on lap eight, Zhou Guanyu and Nicholas Latifi colliding as the Williams cut across the Alfa Romeo’s nose, both drivers out of the race.

While they crashed, Russell also found himself in trouble as he tried to pass Valtteri Bottas down the inside, overshot and clipped the front wing of the Alfa as he took to the escape road.

The racing resumed on lap 11, the top seven as they were with Verstappen first to make a move as he overtook Sebastian Vettel and then Pierre Gasly. Magnussen pitted for a new front wing, his having been broken in his lap one tussle with Verstappen, and dropped to the back of the field.

Nearing the end of the opening third, the drivers began to complain about their inters but with mixed opinions as to what should come next, Sainz saying it was “not far from slicks”, Fernando Alonso saying he “cannot see” a dry line while Verstappen felt it was “still too wet”.

Worryingly, Verstappen also reported a “massive lag on the upshift”, the World Champion lapping 25 seconds behind his team-mate. He made his way up to P6 moments after that message, elevated up the order as Alonso stopped at Turn 10 – “engine”.

Russell was the only taker for a pit-stop under the VSC, the Briton putting on medium slicks…and then Albon crashed nose first into the barrier, the VSC deployed as he left his front wing behind as he pitted and retired.

After the VSC was lifted there was not much racing before Esteban Ocon was also out of the race, his Alpine breaking down at Turn 13. The VSC was back. Again, no takers for pit-stops.

As the VSC was cleared, Hamilton tried to pounce on Sainz but did not make it and Verstappen attempted the same with Norris also without success. “Very dangerous” said Norris as the Red Bull driver drew alongside him under VSC conditions.

Norris was given breathing room from Verstappen when Hamilton hit the barrier at Turn 7, the Briton into it nose first. Working his way back onto the track, Norris got ahead of him with Verstappen behind and complaining about Hamilton’s “dangerous” wing, telling Red Bull (and Race Control) it was “going to fall off”.

And finally the pit-stops began on lap 35! Leclerc was first in followed by Hamilton, Vettel and others. Leclerc overshot his pit box, costing time. Perez was in on the next lap, as were Sainz and Verstappen. Norris stayed out, Tsunoda crashed, the Safety Car out and Norris and Daniel Ricciardo got free pit-stops.

They lined up for the restart: Perez, Leclerc, Sainz, Norris, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Stroll, Vettel, Hamilton and Gasly. Verstappen tried to attack Norris but instead went screaming down an escape road, the Red Bull driver having to pit for new tyres, falling to the very back of the field.

Make that second from last as Russell crawled around the track with a puncture after an incident with Mick Schumacher. Haas blamed the Mercedes driver: “No, George, no, that is so not right.”

At the front, Leclerc chased down Perez, six tenths behind the Mexican driver when the FIA activated DRS for the first time. Chasing him lap after lap, even with DRS Leclerc was unable to make a pass with the two-hour clock, not laps, counting down the Singapore Grand Prix. Verstappen overtook Bottas to run inside the points, Gasly for P9, then Hamilton and finally Vettel.

But it was the other Red Bull, Perez, who took the win, only his second of the season. He took the chequered flag over seven seconds ahead of Leclerc but is under investigation for a Safety Car infringement. Sainz joined them on the podium in third.

Norris and Ricciardo made it a double points haul for McLaren, crossing the line ahead of Stroll, Verstappen and Vettel. It was only Aston Martin’s second double of the season. Hamilton and Gasly completed the points.

Result

1 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing 2:02:15.238
2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +7.595
3 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +15.305
4 Lando NORRIS McLaren +26.133
5 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +58.282
6 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +61.330
7 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +63.825
8 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +65.032
9 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +66.515
10 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +74.576
11 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +93.844
12 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +97.610
13 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas F1 Team +1 lap
14 George RUSSELL Mercedes +2 laps

Did not finish

Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri crash lap 36
Esteban Ocon Alpine engine lap 28
Alex Albon Williams crash lap 27
Fernando Alonso Alpine engine lap 22
Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo crash lap 8
Nicholas Latifi Williams crash lap 8