Sergio Pérez won the Singapore Grand Prix, having taken the lead from the start and secured a fine victory for Red Bull in difficult and wet conditions at Marina Bay. Max Verstappen, however, had his worst race of the season and the world champion only managed to finish seventh, not enough to close his title defense but the Dutchman remains on track to seal it.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished second and third for Ferrari. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth and fifth for McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton made an unusual mistake and finished ninth for Mercedes.
In a race marred by a series of driver errors causing multiple virtual safety and safety cars, Pérez held on with aplomb to claim victory, despite being investigated for car infringement of security.
On the other hand, his teammate Verstappen, who could have won the title here, suffered a series of calamities during a difficult weekend for the Dutchman. He got off to a bad start and then lost places trying too hard to make up for it in the final stages, making an even more costly mistake.
Hamilton overcooked it and hit the barriers, costing him places; he raised his hands and apologized to his team. Leclerc kept Pérez honest throughout, but despite a late charge he didn’t have enough to get past him.
Verstappen remains in a strong position to wrap up the championship at the next round in Japan. He leads Leclerc by 104 points and Pérez by 106. He will seal his second title if he leads the two drivers by 112 points after the Suzuka race.
It was Pérez’s first victory at the Singapore GP and the fourth of his career. It continues the form he has shown this season on a street circuit with a win at Monaco and is a good result for the 32-year-old, who has endured bad luck and mixed form.
The start of the race was delayed an hour after torrential rain hit Marina Bay, with around 2.5cm flooding the track. The rain having stopped, the teams chose to open on the intermediate tyres.
Pérez got off to a blistering start, taking the lead from Leclerc into the first corner, with Hamilton pressed by Sainz and dropping a place to the Spaniard, in fourth. Verstappen however got off to a very bad start: stuck in anti-stall, he lost four places from eighth to 12th place.
The Dutchman immediately started a fightback, up to ninth on lap three, but was already 21 seconds down, as Pérez and Leclerc widened a gap in front. A series of safety car and VSC interruptions ensued and after another restart Hamilton just lost contact. He went too far at turn seven on lap 33, hitting the barrier. He managed to continue and joined in front of Verstappen in fifth but with a damaged front wing.
Shortly after, when the track was ready for the slicks, Leclerc stopped and Pérez followed him a lap later. Hamilton also stopped for a new front wing and rubber, and Verstappen followed a lap later. As the stops went, Pérez had maintained his lead over Leclerc and Sainz with Norris and Verstappen through to fourth and fifth and Hamilton falling to ninth with the time he lost.
Back on the road, Verstappen did another safety car restart but was far too ambitious – picking up too much pace at turn five, he locked himself in trying to pass Norris and went straight down the road to leak. His tires were shot and he was forced to pit for new rubber and dropped from fifth to 14th at the back of the field.
Leclerc meanwhile charged at Pérez, clearly enjoying superior grip, while the Mexican reported engine problems. The pair were vying for superiority but Pérez held his ground firmly.
Verstappen, too, was fast as he furiously tried to get back into the points and he duly gained places in the closing laps, including passing Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel towards the end. Still, the win he needed was long gone, as his teammate capped off his win with calm assurance.
Lance Stroll and Vettel were sixth and eighth for Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly 10th for AlphaTauri.