Vettel Back on Top at 2019 Singapore GP
Charles Leclerc fans who watched the 2019 Singapore GP will tell you that Ferrari engineered the results so that Sebastian Vettel finished first, but don’t let them fool you: the Formula 1 race was a Vettel masterclass that he thoroughly deserved to win.
Leclerc did brilliantly once more to qualify on pole position for the third time in a row, but it didn’t take long for the team strategists to bump into a conundrum. The front runners were all running on the soft tire, but they were getting chewed up so fast that their performance advantage over the medium tire, which the midfield drivers were using, quickly dissipated.
This meant that while the undercut, while in theory very powerful in Singapore, was tricky to pull off, as the frontrunners hadn’t developed a large enough gap to the midfield that would allow them to pit safely without running into traffic.
Ultimately, both Red Bull and Ferrari pulled the trigger at the same time, pitting Verstappen and Vettel, who had been running fourth and third, respectively, to try to undercut Lewis Hamilton, who was busy chasing down Leclerc.
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But while Verstappen came out in traffic despite a quick pit stop, Vettel was treated to some open track and made incredible use of it, putting in a lap that was so fast that when Leclerc, who had been leading the race, went into the pits only a lap later, he came out behind his teammate.
From there, Vettel did everything right. He managed lapped traffic beautifully, perfectly controlled multiple safety car restarts, and always had the measure of Leclerc. He was once known as the “King of Singapore,” so it’s fitting that he would get his first win since last year’s Belgian GP at the race he has so often dominated.
It was one of the few races where Ferrari got the strategy completely right and Mercedes didn’t, to the extent that Bottas was called on the radio to let Hamilton past, a move many rightfully questioned as Hamilton’s championship title is almost entirely secure, and Bottas’ second place in the standings is starting to come under threat.
In fact, the battle for second or third place in the standings has become the one to watch, as Verstappen and Leclerc are currently tied for third with 200 points each, and with Vettel trailing by just six points. Leclerc and Vettel currently have the momentum, but don’t count out Verstappen and upcoming Honda upgrades.
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Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.