Sergio Perez dominated a wet-dry thriller to win 2022 Singapore Grand Prix in Marina Bay, Singapore.
Following a 65-minute delay due to a pre-race thunderstorm, Perez made a clean start to snatch the lead from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc whilst Carlos Sainz passed Lewis Hamilton for third.
Various dramas throughout the opening 36 laps however eliminated six drivers and led to a tense tussle between Perez and Leclerc, with the Mexican eventually clinging on to clinch his fourth F1 win and second of the season – having won in Monaco.
Perez however was placed under a post-race investigation due to various Safety Car infringements on Lap 38, which culiminated in a five-second time penalty plus one reprimand but he kept the win.
Sainz settled for third ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo plus Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll.
Verstappen recovered to seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and Pierre Gasly.
In the driver standings, Verstappen’s ninth-placed finish meant that he couldn’t wrap up the title in Marina Bay, as Leclerc cut his championship lead down to 104 points whilst Perez stayed third but now two points behind Leclerc in their fight for the vice-champion honour.
Prior to lights out, Mercedes opted to install a fresh power unit into George Russell’s car which meant that the Brit had to start the race from the pit-lane, having qualified 11th after a brake issue hindered him during Qualifying.
A torrential thunderstorm then swept across Marina Bay around 80 minutes before the scheduled race start, which left the FIA with no option other than to delay the pre-race procedure and race start until visbility improved and the circuit had dried sufficiently for cars to race.
The race eventually began 65 minutes later than originally scheduled, with Leclerc getting bogged down on the start which enabled Perez to take the lead ahead of the Monegasque, whilst Sainz nudged Hamilton wide at Turn 2 to take third.
Verstappen meanwhile almost hit anti-stall as he got off his grid slot and slipped from eighth to 12th, yet quickly passed Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda to claim ninth by end of Lap 3.
Further behind the frontrunners, Guanyu Zhou and Nicholas Latifi collided on Lap 7 as the latter punted Zhou into the wall, with the Chinese driver consequently clipping Latifi’s left-rear tyre to eliminate both drivers.
The Safety Car was deployed for three laps and once racing resumed at end of Lap 11, Perez led the field back racing whilst Verstappen produced a double-overtake on Vettel and Gasly to take seventh.
Verstappen however was unable to pass Fernando Alonso – on the Spaniard’s 350th F1 start – until the latter retired with a power unit failure on Lap 21, which elevated the reigning champion up to sixth as the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was briefly deployed.
Mercedes decided to gamble on a pit stop for Russell – down in 15th – as the Brit switched to medium tyres, only for the risk to fail as he failed to find pace on a still-damp circuit but he stayed out in a guinea-pig like role to gather tyre data to help Hamilton out.
Alex Albon then brought the VSC back out on Lap 26 after he crashed into the barriers at Turn 8, but was able to recover to the pit lane where he retired due to severe damage as Williams suffered their first double-retirement since the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.
Ocon two laps later grinded to a halt at Turn 13 to condemn Alpine to their first double-retirement since 2021 US GP, whilst the VSC was again deployed until midway through Lap 30 under which Sainz allegedly brake-tested Hamilton on the main straight according to the Brit on team radio.
Hamilton three laps later crashed at Turn 7 but rejoined in fifth position between Norris and Verstappen, which left the latter raging as Hamilton continued with a damaged front wing until the end of the next lap when he pitted and rejoined in ninth after a front-wing change.
Debris strewn at Turn 7 from Hamilton’s incident however triggered a flurry of pit-stops for medium slick tyres across the following laps in fear of a Safety Car, which was eventually redeployed after Yuki Tsunoda crashed at Turn 10 on Lap 36.
Perez at the start of Lap 38 pulled up alongside the Safety Car to instruct Bernd Maylander to go faster then later failed to twice keep 10 car spaces, which attracted the attention of stewards and led to a post-race investigation which resulted in a reprimand and 5s time penalty.
Racing resumed on Lap 40 as Perez fought off Leclerc’s charge in a tense battle whilst Verstappen tried to overtake Norris into Turn 7 but ran deep and had to pit for soft tyres, due to having heavily locked up his tyres
Russell and Schumacher then collided a lap later at the end of the main-straight to ruin both of their races with punctures and left the pair out of contention for a top ten finish.
Verstappen meanwhile found pace on the soft tyres and eventually charged up to seventh at the checkered flag, ahead of Vettel and Hamilton as Gasly rounded out the top ten finishers.
F1 now heads to Suzuka, Japan for the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix next weekend, which takes place from 7-9 October and could well be where Verstappen can wrap up his second consecutive F1 title if he extends his title lead to 112 points.
|1||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||59||2h 02m 15.238|
|2||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||59||+ 2.595|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||59||+ 10.305|
|4||Lando Norris||McLaren||59||+ 21.133|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||59||+ 53.282|
|6||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||59||+ 56.330|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||59||+ 58.825|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||59||+ 60.032|
|9||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||59||+ 61.515|
|10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||59||+ 69.576|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||59||+ 88.844|
|12||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||59||+ 92.610|
|13||Mick Schumacher||Haas||58||+ 1 Lap|
|14||George Russell||Mercedes||57||+ 2 Laps|
|RET||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||27||Power Unit|
|RET||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||20||Power Unit|
|RET||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo||6||Collision|