Verstappen forced to wait for title after Pérez victory in Singapore

Dutchman has worst race of the season with seventh placed finish

Sergio Pérez won the Singapore Grand Prix, having taken the lead from the off and completing a fine victory for Red Bull in tricky, wet conditions at Marina Bay. Max Verstappen, however, had his worst race of the season and the world champion could manage only seventh, not enough to close out his defence of the title but the Dutchman remains on course to seal it.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were second and third for Ferrari. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were fourth and fifth for McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton made an uncharacteristic mistake and was ninth for Mercedes.

In a race marked by a series of driver errors prompting several safety and virtual safety cars, Pérez held it together with aplomb to take the victory, although he is under investigation for a safety car infringement.

In contrast, his teammate Verstappen, who could have claimed the title here, endured a series of calamities in what has been a difficult weekend for the Dutchman. He had a poor start and then dropped places trying too hard to make up a position in the latter stages, making an error that was even more costly.


Hamilton overcooked it and hit the barriers, costing him places; he held his hands up and apologised to his team. Leclerc kept Pérez honest throughout but despite a late charge did not have quite enough to pass 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 if he is ahead of both drivers by 112 points after the race at Suzuka.

This was Pérez’s first win at the Singapore GP and the fourth of his career. It continues the form he showed this season on a street circuit with victory in Monaco and is a strong result for the 32-year-old, who has endured bad luck and mixed form.

The race start was delayed by an hour after torrential rain hit Marina Bay, with about 2.5cm swamping the track. With the rain having stopped, the teams opted to open on the intermediate tyres.

Pérez made a blistering start, taking the lead from Leclerc into turn one, with Hamilton squeezed wide by Sainz and dropping a place to the Spaniard, into fourth. Verstappen, however, had a very poor start: stuck in anti-stall he lost four places from eighth to 12th.

The Dutchman immediately began a fightback, up to ninth by lap three, but was already 21 seconds back, as Pérez and Leclerc opened a gap out front. A series of safety car and VSC interruptions ensued and after another restart Hamilton just lost his touch. He went too deep at turn seven on lap 33, hitting the barrier. He managed to keep going and rejoined in front of Verstappen in fifth but with a damaged front wing.

Shortly afterwards, with the track ready for slicks, Leclerc pitted and Pérez followed him a lap later. Hamilton stopped, too, for a new front wing and rubber, and Verstappen followed a lap later. As the stops played out, Pérez had maintained his lead from Leclerc and Sainz with Norris and Verstappen up to fourth and fifth and Hamilton dropping to ninth with the time he lost.

Underway again, Verstappen went hard on another safety car restart but was far too ambitious – taking too much pace into turn five, he locked up trying to pass Norris and went straight on into the escape road. His tyres were shot and he was forced to pit for new rubber and emerged from fifth place in 14th at the back of the field.

Leclerc meanwhile charged at Pérez, clearly enjoying superior grip, while the Mexican reported engine problems. The pair vied for superiority but Pérez staunchly held his place.

Verstappen, too, was quick as he made a furious attempt to get back into the points and he duly made up places over the closing laps, including passing Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel near the end. Yet the win he required was long gone as his teammate closed out his victory with calm assurance.

Lance Stroll and Vettel were in sixth and eighth for Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly 10th for AlphaTauri.

- Guardian