Max scored his sixth podium finish of the season with a hard-fought third place at the Singapore Grand Prix, as Alex added to a good points haul in the Lion City with his second sixth place in a row.
The seeds for Max’s 28th career podium were sown in the single round of pit stops a third of the way through the grand prix. Running in fourth place at the end of the first stint, Max pitted on lap 19, alongside third-placed Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes, however, left second-placed Lewis Hamilton on track for a further seven laps and when the championship leader eventually pitted he was jumped by both Vettel, who took the lead, and Max who slotted into third behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Max then successfully held off Hamilton to the flag.
At the race start the top six got away in grid order with pole sitter Leclerc leading from Hamilton, Vettel and fourth-placed Max. Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the second Mercedes, with Alex in sixth.
Behind them Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg clashed with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and they both dropped to the rear of the field. That allowed Lando Norris in the second McLaren to slip through to seventh place ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s 10th placed Pierre Gasly.
The first stint then became a game of tyre management as the leaders preserved their starting softs in order to go deep enough into the race to clear the midfield should they pit.
Vettel was the first to make the move, with the German pitting on lap 19. The Team chose to pit Max on the same lap for hard compound Pirellis. Race leader Leclerc was next in but after his stop he emerged behind teammate Vettel, much to his dismay. Alex also made his tyre change on lap 20, followed by Bottas on lap 22.
There was frustration for Alex, however. After his stop he emerged in P11, behind Nico Hulkenberg. The Renault driver was slower and that allowed Bottas to pit and emerge just ahead of both. Alex passed Hulkenberg but the opportunity to get past Bottas in the pit stop had gone.
At the front, Hamilton now led the race. Despite admitting that his tyres were “not great’ the Briton stayed out until lap 26. And when he re-joined he did so behind Max.
The race was now led by Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in P2 ahead of Ricciardo, all of whom needed to stop. Vettel soon made his way past all three and on lap 30 he assumed the lead of the race. Leclerc and Max followed suit and as the order settled Vettel led his teammate by six seconds, with Max three seconds further back in third place. Hamilton was now in fourth ahead of Bottas and Alex.
The race was neutralised on lap 35 when Haas’ Romain Grosjean went for an ambitious overtake of Williams’ George Russell into turn 8 and ended up pitching the young Briton into the wall. Singapore’s 100% safety car record was thus maintained and the gaps at the front closed up.
The safety car left the track at the end of lap 40 and when racing resumed, Vettel held his lead ahead of an unchanged top 10. The green flags lasted just three laps, however. On lap 44, Sergio Pérez was told to stop his car and the Racing Point driver pulled over at the side of the track, leading to a second safety car deployment.
The safety car stayed on track until the end of lap 47 and when the action resumed it was again a clean re-start but within three laps the pace car was back on track as Kvyat collided with Räikkönen in turn 1 and both arrowed off into the run-off area.
This time the cautionary period was shorter and on lap 51 the race got going once more. Vettel again controlled the re-start well and over the final 10 laps slowly began to edge away from his teammate to eventually take his 53rd career victory and his first win since Belgium last year ahead of Leclerc.
Max was pushed hard by Hamilton in the final laps. The Briton made one late lunge, midway through the final lap, but Max was vigilant and positioned his car perfectly to rebuff the challenge.
Moments later, just over a minute shy of the race’s two-hour limit, Max crossed the line to take his 28th podium finish. It was the Team’s 13th in Singapore and its 167th overall.
Hamilton was left with fourth place ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, and Alex took P6 for the second race in a row to give the Team a 23-point haul from the season’s toughest race.
Behind the Thai driver Norris was seventh for McLaren ahead of Gasly who was eighth for Toro Rosso. Ninth place was taken by Hulkenberg and the final point on offer went to Alfa Romeo’s Giovinazzi.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
13 – podium finishes for the Team in Singapore now. The Team has had at least one driver on the podium every year since 2010.
167 – Max’s third place is the Team’s 167th podium finish.
28 – Career podiums for Max and his sixth of 2019.
Singapore Grand Prix - Race Top 10:
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Charles Leclerc
3. MAX VERSTAPPEN
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Valtteri Bottas
6. ALEX ALBON
7. Lando Norris
8. Pierre Gasly
9. Nico Hulkenberg
10. Antonio Giovinazzi