F1's night race was here. Singapore is located just 1° north of the equator, and the high humidity and warm temperatures make for a very demanding race for the drivers and their cars. This was the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix!
First time at Singapore for Alex Albon so, understandably, he was one of the first to come out onto the track. Charles Leclerc was the first to set a time, followed by Sebastian Vettel, being the only drivers setting lap times for the first 15 minutes of the session. After 30 minutes, every driver had set a timed lap, with Lewis Hamilton on top with a 1:42.412, followed by Bottas and Verstappen. After one hour, it was Vettel the fastest, but teammate Leclerc had a mishap in his Ferrari, stuck in 4th gear but managed to get back into the pits. Then Valtteri Bottas crashed his Mercedes W10 at turn 19, bringing out the first red flag of the weekend. He lost the rear of the car going through the right-hander and as the oversteer kicked in he slid wide very quickly and then slammed into the barrier on the outside of the track.
With a bit more than 15 minutes to go, cars and drivers went back to work. At the end, it was Verstappen's time of 1:40.259 the fastest of the session, followed by Vettel (+0.167) and Hamilton (+0.666).
Practice two started at night time (20:30 local time) with a bit cooler temperatures (29.5 ℃ | 85.1 ℉) but a lot more humid (75.2%). Fantastic work by the Mercedes mechanics rebuilding Bottas' W10 on time for the session. Work was still going on Leclerc's SF90, but not missing much of the crucial practice.
Kimi Raikkonen was the first to set a timed lap, a 1:43.996 in the Alfa. At around 20 minutes into the session, Alex Albon locks his brakes and hits the barrier at turn 10, breaking the front wing of his RB15. He's able to return to the pits for a quick check and a new nose. Meanwhile, his teammate went second fastest, just behind Hamilton and ahead of Leclerc.
For a large portion of the session, most of the teams were doing long runs as this is the only time they have with similar conditions to race day. And after an hour and a half, it was Lewis Hamilton's 1:38.773 the fastest time of the day, with Verstappen (+0.184), and Vettel (+0.818) rounding up the top three.
Session started a bit cooler and less humid compared to Friday, but still very hot (31.5 ℃ | 88.7 ℉) and humid (57.3%). As expected, cars came out to do installation laps but not much for the first few minutes of the session. Everyone was waiting for the circuit to be more representative for qualifying and race.
15 minutes into the session there were only five timed laps, with Bottas as fastest (1:40.926). Then Daniil Kvyat was asked to come into the pits immediately as there was a problem with his Toro Rosso which was smoking a bit while on track.
With 32 minutes left Sergio Perez banged the wall at turn 22, breaking the rear wheel and bringing out a VSC (Virtual Safety Car) as there was lots of debris from the broken wheel. After a couple of minutes, the session was red flagged.
The track was opened with 22 minutes left on the clock. Charles Leclerc sets the fastest lap so far, a 1:38.192, and Lewis Hamilton spun coming out of the pits on brand new tires, recovered and tried to set a fast time, but was compromised by the traffic.
At the end it was Leclerc's time the fastest, followed by Hamilton (+0.207) and Vettel (+0.619).
Green light at Singapore and it was Robert Kubica the first to come out. And after just a few minutes, Carlos Sainz reported he had no power, but kept going and set a lap. Out were Kvyat, Stroll, Grosjean, Russell, and Kubica.
The second part of qualifying started with both Mercedes on track, with Bottas setting the first timed lap. Leclerc set a serious lap of 1:36.930 early on. Hamilton brushed the wall but did no damage to his W10, Raikkonen on the other hand did brushed the Alfa a bit harder, hampering his lap times. At the end, Perez, Giovinazzi, Gasly, Raikkonen, and Magnussen were eliminated. Leclerc did an even faster lap (1:36.650), just 0.070 faster than teammate Vettel.
The ten drivers came out at the same time, that meant that traffic became an issue for the first timed laps. Vettel setting the benchmark time, a blistering 1:36.437. But at the end of qualifying it was the mighty Charles Leclerc who gets Pole Position at Singapore with a 1:36.217, his third in row! Hamilton finished second (+0.191) and Vettel (+0.220) third. Behind them, it was Verstappen, Bottas, Albon, Sainz, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, and Norris.
"I'm extremely happy - it was a very good lap but there were several moments when I almost lost control! I must thank the team - they have been amazing. Yesterday was not my day but this feels great" Charles Leclerc after qualifying.
After qualifying, Ricciardo and Renault were summoned to the stewards as the MGU-K on the RS19 registered to have used a bit more power than the allowed by the regulations. Ricciardo was disqualified but allowed to start from the back of the grid.
"Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." A fitting poem by Dylan Thomas, and what a race that was!
The start of the Grand Prix was very clean, although there was contact between Sainz and Hulkenberg, forcing them into the pits very early on, as did George Russell. Meanwhile up front, Leclerc was controlling the race and while doing it, Ferrari passed the 15,000 laps lead in F1 history, 15,000!
Daniel Ricciardo, who started last, was passing left and right and by lap 11, he was P12. On lap 20, Vettel and Verstappen came into the pits for hards, Leclerc a lap later, but came out 8th, behind Vettel. Hamilton and Bottas decided to stay out. On lap 23, Bottas pitted for hards, coming out in 9th, behind Verstappen. Ricciardo was P4 at the time! Hamilton pitted on lap 26, coming out in 8th, behind Verstappen and ahead of Bottas, and it was Antonio Giovinazzi in the Alfa Romeo leading the Grand Prix! Gasly was second and Ricciardo third. Then came Vettel, Stroll, Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, and Albon the top ten.
By lap 29, Vettel was able to pass Ricciardo for third, and Leclerc to Stroll for 5th. A lap later, Vettel passed Gasly for second, but in a very risky move. Verstappen did the same on Stroll. On lap 31, Vettel passed Giovinazzi for the lead of the race. Verstappen passed Ricciardo for 5th. A lap later, Leclerc passed Gasly for third, and so did Verstappen, now in fourth. A lap later, they both passed Giovinazzi for second and third. Hamilton passed Ricciardo and a couple of turns later Giovinazzi, to place himself in fourth.
At turn seven on lap 34, Ricciardo passed Giovinazzi but touched and got a puncture, and so did Giovinazzi, dropping lots of places. Shame after a brilliant race for both of them.
On lap 36, Russell trying to pass Grosjean ended up on the wall, bringing out double yellows at turn 8. Safety car was deployed a bit later. This was first race retirement for Williams all season.
Bernd Mayländer keeps his record of having led at least a lap at every Grand Prix at Singapore. and the odd record of 100% chance of safety car at this track.
Safety car ended on lap 40, and the race was restarted and it was Vettel, in front of Leclerc, Verstappen, Hamilton, and Bottas the top 5. A bit back, Stroll got a puncture and wing damage by hitting the wall at turn 17 all by himself. Three laps later, Stroll's teammate slows down and comes to a stop on the back straight, ending his race and bringing out double yellows, and a few seconds later, the safety car was deployed once again.
Race was restarted on lap 48, Vettel ahead of a not so convinced Leclerc, who felt Ferrari unfairly allowed Vettel to do the undercut on him early on. On lap 50, Kvyat tried to pass Raikkonen but miscalculated the turn, crashing into him, breaking the front suspension on the Alfa Romeo. A third safety car was deployed. Race was restarted on lap 52. DRS was enabled (again) on lap 54.
At the end it was Ferrari winning for the third time in a row, as Sebastian Vettel wins the Singapore Grand Prix, ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen. Ferrari is the first constructor to have finished 1-2 at the Singapore Grand Prix. The fastest lap point went to Haas' Kevin Magnussen. Vettel was also voted Driver of the Day.
This was Vettel’s 53rd win, the 14th with Scuderia Ferrari and his first since last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. This was also his fifth win at this track, the current record at Singapore.
Weekend attendance: 288,000 people.
Vettel's winning time: 1:58:33.667