After the entire Formula 1 world rightly criticized and scrutinized Sergio Peréz’s recent drop in performance, especially next to soon-to-be World Champion Max Verstappen, Ya es hora (it’s about time) that Checo put in a great performance throughout the weekend. Peréz did that throughout the weekend, taking the lead on the first corner and engaging in a two-car battle with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for the win at the Singapore Grand Prix.
We have limited space, so hang on for a flying lap around the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. A flying lap that might be quicker than a lap around the Marina Bay circuit in wet conditions.
Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying
The much-rumored upgraded Red Bull RB-18 chassis did not make its debut in Singapore. We can make any number of cost cap jokes here, with Red Bull being one of two teams alleged to have exceeded the 2021 cost cap. However, the Alpine and McLaren upgrades were on the cars and seemed to have a positive impact, especially for Alpine. The Wiley ‘Ol Campaigner Fernando Alonso looked poised to do something special in the upgraded A-522 for his 350th Grand Prix
Qualifying was mostly a wet track affair, with slick tires not making their appearance until the end of Qualifying 2, when the Aston Martin’s gambled on the track being dry enough. Notably, Mercedes’ George Russell was eliminated from Q2, finishing 11th. This led to a power unit change and pit-lane start for Russell.
The biggest story of the Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying was not Leclerc’s pole position, Checo’s pace, or Hamilton and Alonso qualifying in the top 5. The story of qualifying was Verstappen’s two aborted laps in Qualifying 3, the second of which Verstappen had nine-tenths of a second lead over Leclerc’s best time before being instructed to abort the lap and pit due to fuel issues. Verstappen qualified 8th.
The Top 6 Qualifiers for the Singapore Grand Prix
P1: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 1:49.412
P2: Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) – 1:49.434
P3: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 1:49.466
P4: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 1:49.583
P5: Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 1:49.966
P6: Lando Norris (McLaren) – 1:50.584
Singapore Grand Prix: The Main Event That Didn’t Disappoint
Time for the chaotic main event. Are you ready? Take a deep breath. Lights out, and away we go!
The 2022 Singapore Grand Prix was the second wet edition of the race (the first being in 2017), and the start was delayed due to weather. The decision to have a lengthy delay was likely informed by the debacle that was the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix and the very real threat of lightning. The Singapore Grand Prix started from a standing start, with all runners on the intermediate tires.
What happened after lights reinforced how valuable, difficult, and unpredictable the Singapore Grand Prix can be to Formula 1. The 2022 Singapore Grand Prix was a race of attrition, and one of traction and skilled overtakes rather than a reliance on DRS (drag reduction system) assistance.
Pérez took the lead from Leclerc at turn one. For his part, Verstappen went into anti-stall on the start and had a horrible launch, dropping four spots and needing to avoid incidents to stay in the race. Peréz and Leclerc began a personal battle out front, leaving Sainz behind. This is a trend that happened every time the pack was bunched up.
You may be wondering about the statement “every time the pack was bunched up,” and that is totally fair. The 2022 Singapore Grand Prix continued the 100% scoring record of safety car appearances during the Grand Prix. With a wet race, numerous safety car periods, and a long circuit/lap distance, the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix quickly became a timed race. However, a familiar team and face caused the first safety car to be deployed when the race was counted in laps rather than total time.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi is the slowest and worst driver on the grid. Eschewing his mirrors, Latifi literally drove Alfa Romero’s Zhou Guanyu into the concrete barriers and out of the race on lap 8. Latifi made out back to the pits but had terminal suspension damage. Williams’ bad weekend but early load out for Japan was completed with Alex Albon’s crash on lap 23.
A second safety car was deployed on lap 21 after Alonso’s engine failed, while a virtual safety car was required on laps 25-26 due to Esteban Ocon’s power unit failure and to recover Albon’s front wing from the barricade. Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was showing signs of being at his limit before crashing on lap 34, requiring another safety car. At the end of the two-hour race, only fourteen cars remained on the grid.
Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, Peréz and Leclerc engaged in an incredible two-car race at the front of the grid, almost anonymously, as the chaos behind them took precedence. And Verstappen was slowly making his way through the grid.
Hamilton and Verstappen both made major mistakes for World Champions, both locking up and losing higher gird positions in the process. Hamilton’s locked up and drove straight-on into a barrier, bounced out, but required a trip to the pits for a new front wing. Hamilton, who looked like he had the pace to be in the fight at the front, finished 9th.
On the final safety car restart on slick tires, Verstappen was charging to make a pass on Norris, bottoming out, locking all four wheels, and sailing into the run-off area. Verstappen was quick on the radio and headed to the pits for new tires. Verstappen’s recovery drive to the front of the grid became a second recovery drive to get as many points as possible. Verstappen passed Sebastian Vettel for 7th on the last lap.
Speaking of Aston Martin, the Silverstone squad should be commended for a strong weekend. The Aston Martin’s looked competitive throughout the weekend and a finishing 6th and 8th scores the team 12 very important points in the constructor’s championship, launching Aston Martin from 9th to seventh in the standings.
Like Alpine, McLaren’s upgrades worked, and unlike Alpine, they had no power unit reliability concerns. While Alonso gave us hope for a little magic in the Alpine, the McLaren came through in the Grand Prix. Norris was competitive throughout the weekend and had the new upgrades on his MCL-36, while Daniel Ricciardo was in an old-spec McLaren and found his way to fifth on the grid.
With a two-car race at the front, Checo was notified that he was under investigation for a Safety Car infringement during the final safety car period. Checo’s race engineer, Hugh Bird, wisely told Peréz not to ask questions about the infringement over the radio, informing Checo (in English) Desaparezcamos (let’s disappear). And desaparecer Checo did. As Leclerc’s pace began to fall and the F1-75 was squirming all over the track, Checo disappeared, building a big enough lead to remain the winner of the Singapore Grand Prix after being assessed a five-second penalty.
Singapore Grand Prix Top 6 Finishers
P1: Sergio Peréz (Red Bull)
P2: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
P3: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
P4: Lando Norris (McLaren)
P5: Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
P6: Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
Up Next: The Japanese Grand Prix
With five races left on the 2022 Formula 1 calendar, everyone remains in Asia as we fly away to the next race. One that makes me the happiest.
Finally, Formula 1 returns to my absolute favorite circuit in a land I hold very dearly: Suzuka International Racing Course in Suzuka, Japan. Max Verstappen will have a better chance of sealing his second World Championship, while we can all hope that Red Bull has another Honda-tribute livery in the works as they did for last year’s canceled Japanese Grand Prix.
The Japanese Grand Prix takes place from October 7th – October 9th, 2022, from Suzuka, Japan.
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