Singapore Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel wins his first race of 2019 as Ferrari triumph for third time in a row

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel gave Ferrari their third victory in a row with his first of the season by edging out team-mate Charles Leclerc at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Podium

  1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
  3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

Scroll down for full race result and updated standings

Race Report

Sebastian Vettel ended his 22-race losing streak by controversially beating Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc to victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion jumped a furious Leclerc in the only round of pit stops to take to the top step of the podium for the first time since last year's Belgian Grand Prix in August.

Max Verstappen finished third for Red Bull with Lewis Hamilton only fourth.

Hamilton had been in contention for victory at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, but a poor strategy by his Mercedes team ensured the championship leader dropped two places.

Hamilton, however, extends his title lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas to 65 points with just six rounds remaining. Bottas finished fifth ahead of Red Bull's Alex Albon.

Until Sunday's triumph, Vettel had been on a torrid run, one which reached its nadir in Monza a fortnight ago when he spun at Ferrari's home race.

But the German, who actively steers clear of social media, said the subsequent support from fans, as well as people within the motor racing community, encouraged him to return to the winners' circle.

The 32-year-old said: "I have taken a lot of energy from the messages and handwritten letters I have received. People have shared their own stories with me. For us, everything is centred around racing, but racing isn't the most important thing.

"When you read the notes that people are struggling in life, and some were very intimate about it, it gets to you, so it gave me a lot of belief and confidence to keep on trying.

"I knew I wasn't far away from a breakthrough moment, that I just needed to keep doing the job and things would fall into place. I am happy that has happened sooner rather than later."

Leclerc, 21, had looked on course to win for a third time in as many appearances after controlling the opening third of the 61-lap race from pole position.

But the race turned on its head when Ferrari stopped Vettel for tyres first. Leclerc came in a lap later, but Vettel had taken advantage of his new rubber to leapfrog his team-mate.

Naturally, the move by Ferrari angered Leclerc. "To be completely honest with you I don't understand the undercut," he moaned over the radio. "We will discuss after the race," Leclerc added.

Over at Mercedes, the world champions decided to keep Hamilton on track as their rivals changed tyres, but the 34-year-old was rapidly losing time on worn rubber.

Hamilton was soon in no-man's land, and when he did eventually stop, six laps later than Leclerc and seven laps later than Vettel, the Briton re-joined the race behind both Ferrari cars and Verstappen, too. Indeed, Hamilton only stayed ahead of Bottas for fourth position after Mercedes ordered the Finn to slow down.

The spectacular night race is notorious for safety cars, and there were three here, the first of which entered the action following George Russell's coming together with Romain Grosjean on lap 35.

Four laps after the action resumed, the safety car was back on track when Sergio Perez's broken-down Racing Point had to be cleared from danger.

Leclerc was also back on the radio to protest Ferrari's decision to stop Vettel first. "I won't do anything stupid," he said. "But I just think it is unfair."

A third safety car period ensued when Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat collided at the first corner in the closing stages.

But despite the drama around him Vettel kept his cool to bounce back from his horror show in Monza to end his barren run and claim the 53rd win of his career.

His Ferrari team celebrated three consecutive victories for the first time in 11 years. British teenager Lando Norris finished seventh for McLaren.

"It was a very late call," said Vettel as he explained why he was pulled into the pits before Leclerc.

"I thought it was early because I wasn't sure we would make the tyres last in the second stint. I gave it everything on the out lap from the pits and I was very surprised to come out ahead. For me it worked today."

Leclerc said: "It is always difficult to lose a win like that. I am disappointed on my side as anyone would be but it is like this sometimes and I will come back stronger.

"The strategy was fixed at the start of the race so I stuck to the plan."

Race Result (Top 10)

  1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 25
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - 18
  3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 15
  4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 12
  5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 10
  6. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso) - 8
  7. Lando Norris (McLaren) - 6
  8. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) - 4
  9. Nico Hulkenburg (Renault) - 2
  10. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo Racing) - 1

Updated standings

  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 296
  • Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 231
  • Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - 200
  • Max Verstappen (Red Bull) - 200
  • Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 194
  • Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) - 69
  • Carlos Sainz Jr (McLaren) - 58
  • Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso) - 42
  • Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) - 34
  • Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) - 33
  • Nico Hulkenburg (Renault) - 33
  • Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo Racing) - 31
  • Lando Norris (McLaren) - 31
  • Sergio Perez (Racing Point) - 27
  • Lance Stroll (Racing Point) - 19
  • Kevin Magnussen (Haas) - 18
  • Romain Grosjean (Haas) - 8
  • Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo Racing) - 4
  • Robert Kubica (Williams) - 1
  • George Russell (Williams) - 0

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