2019 Singapore Grand Prix Review

Formula One kicked off the final third of the 2019 season this weekend as Ferrari headed to Singapore with excellent momentum, whilst Lewis Hamilton is still set for a sixth world title.

Given that the characteristics of this circuit suited different teams in different sectors, this weekend was always going to be unpredictable so here is how each team fared around the streets of Singapore.

 

Mercedes

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Race results: Lewis Hamilton – 4th, Valtteri Bottas – 5th

Mercedes surprisingly looked very strong throughout practice and followed up that pace in qualifying as Hamilton put himself in between the two Ferraris despite still lacking the straight-line speed needed to match the Scuderia.

His race pace however was rather disappointing and a disastrous pit stop strategy from Mercedes didn’t help because he was left out too long, allowing both Ferraris and Max Verstappen to overtake him during his stop.

The three late Safety Cars didn’t help either because the top three were able to save enough tyre life to make it to the end and ensure that this was the second race in five that neither Mercedes got onto the podium.

Bottas meanwhile had a bad weekend throughout which was begun with a FP1 crash out of Turn 19, therefore denting his confidence throughout the rest of the weekend, although he did make the best of a difficult race by finishing ahead of Alex Albon in the Red Bull.

Consistency however seems to be the priority for Mercedes currently as they sail towards a sixth consecutive season of driver and constructor titles.

 

Ferrari

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Race results: Charles Leclerc – 2nd, Sebastian Vettel – 1st

What a stunning turnaround from Ferrari who struggled throughout Friday practice before dominating Saturday and the race, even if the race result is slightly controversial.

Leclerc again seemed in imperious form after impressive displays in Spa and Monza as he dominated Saturday to take his fifth pole of the season, before overcoming a late reliability issue just minutes before the start of Sunday’s race.

He then drove a brilliant race but was robbed of a fitting third consecutive victory on what would of been Anthoine Hubert’s 23rd Birthday, by a ruthless undercut from Vettel which won the German the race.

That victory has surely come at an ideal time for Vettel who is facing mounting criticism over his performances, especially after blowing pole position on his final Q3 run despite leading the field after their initial fliers.

His victory however could arguably be down to luck from three Safety Cars which eliminated the threat of tyre degradation, although he handled all three restarts perfectly on top of the fast in and out laps surrounding his stop to earn a deserved win.

Nevertheless, this is a great result for Ferrari who clinched their first one-two finish since Hungary 2017 when Vettel won from Kimi Raikkonen plus marks their first such result in Singapore.

 

Red Bull

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Race results: Max Verstappen – 3rd, Alexander Albon – 6th

Like it has done this decade, this circuit was always going to suit Red Bull with its lack of downforce which was evident throughout Friday practice.

Saturday however proved tougher as Ferrari showed their hand but both Verstappen and Albon took respectable fourth and sixth positions, despite McLaren threatening Albon for much of qualifying.

Verstappen then drove a calm and measured race to third as he benefitted from a rare Mercedes’ fumble, on top of a stern defence in the dying stages from Hamilton on fresher tyres.

Albon meanwhile enjoyed a quiet race but if compare his performance of what Pierre Gasly did across the whole first half of this season, the former was more impressive because he stayed with the frontrunners throughout this race rather than fall away into the clutches of McLaren.

In his post race quote, Max Verstappen rightly summed this weekend up as one that ‘wasn’t exactly the weekend we hoped for’ but there are signs of promise which will benefit them in three of the next four races.

 

McLaren

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Race results: Carlos Sainz – 12th, Lando Norris – 7th

McLaren enjoyed a brilliant tussle with Renault throughout the entire weekend but eventually it was Lando Norris who topped the midfield battle.

Norris’ biggest highlight of the weekend came in Q2 when he finished above Red Bull’s Albon by 0.293s, which suggests that there still signs of McLaren’s full potential waiting to be realised.

The young Brit however did benefitted from Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg’s opening lap tangle to settle into a race of his own in seventh, which he held throughout the race despite a late challenge from Gasly of Toro Rosso.

Sainz on the other hand was just unlucky to have his race ruined by a reckless challenge from Hulkenberg on the opening lap, so fair credit to him for ensuring a huge piece of damage limitation as he benefitted from late race drama to finish just eight seconds off the final point after a 10s time penalty for Antonio Giovinazzi.

McLaren therefore enjoyed one of their strongest weekends of the season and Team principal – Andreas Seidl was in praise of their performance, saying; “It makes us very optimistic for the races ahead.”

 

Renault

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Race results: Daniel Ricciardo – 14th, Nico Hulkenberg – 9th

Renault surprisingly enjoyed a consistently strong weekend which has been a rare occurrence for them this season. 

No reliability issues at all this weekend apart from a unfortunate incident in which Daniel Ricciardo accidentally exceeded the maximum power usage by the briefest of milliseconds, which saw him disqualified from qualifying. 

The Australian then drove an excellent fightback in the first half of the race and definitely would of been in the mix for points,  if he hadn’t picked up a late right rear puncture which dropped him to 14th and disguises what had been a strong performance. 

Hulkenberg meanwhile is lucky to even score points after a silly challenge on Sainz at Turn Five on the opening lap, before eventually making a two stopper work to clinch two important points

 

Toro Rosso

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Race results: Pierre Gasly – 8th, Daniil Kvyat – 15th

Toro Rosso have had a relatively quiet but consistent weekend apart from a mechanical issue for Kvyat in FP3 on top of a disappointing Q1 exit.

The Russian however did bounce back with a feisty drive featuring various battles which ultimately yielded no reward, after late contact with Kimi Raikkonen.

Gasly meanwhile was firmly in the midfield battle throughout this weekend and got lucky with a strong Hard to Medium tyre strategy, which allowed him to attack at the end and earn four valuable points.

Overall, a solid weekend for Toro Rosso which left Technical Director, Jody Egginton feeling pleased given that ‘we didn’t lose ground in the championship, which is satisfying’ as they fight Renault for fifth.

 

Racing Point

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Race results: Sergio Perez – Retired, Lance Stroll – 13th 

This weekend surely will be viewed as disappointing by the Racing Point pit wall because they just seemed static in midfield all weekend. 

Their race pace therefore was no better as both cars made barely any impact in the race until Perez had an oil leak on the Esplanade Drive, which brought out the second Safety Car, whilst further placing emphasis on reliability issues which has plagued this team since returning from their summer holidays. 

Stroll meanwhile made a mistake on the first Safety Car restart as he picked up a puncture after hitting the wall, ending any realistic hopes of points but he did scrap his way to a decent 13th placed finish which is no consolation. 

CEO and Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer revealed post race that they were playing the long game and summed up the race and more like weekend in general, saying; “So it just wasn’t our day and it’s a disappointing end to a challenging weekend.”

 

Alfa Romeo

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Race results: Kimi Raikkonen – Retired, Antonio Giovinazzi – 10th

This track didn’t particularly suit Alfa Romeo all weekend so great credit to both drivers for challenging in midfield all weekend long. 

There isn’t much to really say about their performances throughout practice and qualifying but Giovinazzi definitely has found some confidence, which has been missing for much of this season.

For him to make the Medium tyres last 34 laps and also calmly lead a F1 Grand Prix for the first time under immense pressure is a fantastic achievement, showing how his strong performance in Monza last time out has lifted his overall performance before eventually finishing tenth on the road after doing 25 laps on the softs. 

There was however an incident where he unknowingly got too close to marshals who were clearing the Williams of George Russell, which cost him a 10s time penalty but didn’t affect things in the bigger picture of his race. 

Raikkonen meanwhile had a similar sort of performance but a rare mistake from him cost him possible points as he collided with Kvyat late on, although it assured his former team of an one-two finish which isn’t too bad. 

Alfa Romeo therefore will consider this a possible double points finish lost but Sochi should suit them more next weekend. 

 

Haas

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Racing results: Kevin Magnussen – 17th, Romain Grosjean – 11th

This has been a tough weekend for Haas who just lacked pace throughout despite announcing that they’re sticking with the same driver lineup again for next season. 

Magnussen however did well to get the car to 14th on the grid before running on the cusp of points during the first stint but pace issues and a plastic bag caught under the front wing destroyed his race. 

Grosjean meanwhile had a quiet race until he clumsily put the Williams of George Russell into the wall with an outside move into Turn Eight, although he did execute a great two stopper to finish just outside of the points. 

This has therefore been a weekend to forget really and if they hadn’t been just nine points behind Alfa Romeo, they should just forget this season and focus on next season now. 

 

Williams

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Race results: Robert Kubica – 19th, George Russell – Retired

After the promise shown in Hungary, Williams were back to square one in terms of performance with the usual performance gap between both drivers and to the rest of the field. 

For Russell, this was his first Singapore race weekend and he did a solid job throughout until Grosjean put him into the wall mid-race but he could of perhaps left the Frenchman more room on the exit of Turn Eight. 

Kubica meanwhile announced that he will be leaving at the end of this season but did a steady job to finish ahead of Haas’ Magnussen who needed a late second stop. 

Senior Race Engineer, Dave Robson however feels that the team has taken ‘useful positives’ which hopefully will help them improve between now and Abu Dhabi. 

 

If missed the opening 14 rounds of this season, get up to date with our race reviews below along with our half-term report.

 

 

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