Max marched to his sixth podium finish of the season and the 17th of his career with a masterful drive to second place at the Singapore Grand Prix, that saw him recover from the early setback of losing P2 to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel only to power back to the position thanks to brilliant work in his sole pit stop.
At the start pole position man Lewis Hamilton made a good start to keep front-row starter Max at bay. Vettel, starting third, also made a good getaway and he immediately tried to get past Max in the first complex of corners.
The Dutchman kept the Ferrari driver at bay for the opening corners, but as they approached Turn 7 Vettel was able to pull alongside and Max was forced to give way as they went through the corner.
Further back, Esteban Ocon and Force India team-mate Sergio Perez tangled, with the result ending in the French driver bouncing into the wall at the exit of Turn 3 and the Safety Car emerged.
When the cautionary period finished, at the end of lap four, Hamilton held his lead over Vettel and Max, with the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in fourth place ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and Daniel, who had held his grid position after the start.
The race then settled and by lap 14 Hamilton had eked out a 2.2s lead to Vettel, with Max a further 2.3s behind. Daniel was now 3.5s behind fifth-place Räikkönen.
Vettel ended the cat and mouse game at the end of lap 14, pitting to take on ultrasoft tyres. Mercedes responded by pitting Hamilton at the end of the following tour, though the championship leader was sent out on soft tyres. Max now led the race.
Hamilton emerged from his pit stop ahead of Vettel, who then found himself lodged behind the slower Perez for a lap. The delay allowed the Bulls to react and when Max was called in to make his pit stop for soft tyres, the crew performed brilliantly, and after a 2.5s halt Max emerged just ahead of Vettel to once again hold P2. Vettel was soon reporting that his ultrasoft tyres wouldn’t last the remainder of the race and with track position counting for everything on the street circuit, the Ferrari driver was forced to drop back behind Max to nurse his ultrasoft tyres to the end.
Daniel briefly led the race when Räikkönen made his pit stop but eventually the Red Bull was brought to the pit lane and at the end of lap 27 he made the switch to ultrasoft tyres, with the crew executing an even better stop of just 2.3s. He rejoined in P6, behind Räikkönen.
Hamilton once again led, with Max 4.5s behind on lap 28. Vettel was now 2.6s behind Max, with Bottas a relatively lonely fourth ahead of Räikkönen and Daniel, who was 10.8s behind the second Ferrari.
The race again began to settle, until shortly after the midway point, when Perez in attempting to get past Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, inexplicably swerved left and hit the right side of the Williams. Sirotkin was able to continue but Perez was forced to limp to the pits for long repairs and then received a drive through penalty for causing the collision.
At the front, Hamilton was now getting tangled up in backmarkers and that allowed Max to close in and as the lap headed for its final third, Max closed to within two seconds of the race leader.
Hamilton was able to thread his way through the traffic, however, and the gap was soon back up to 3.3s, with Vettel now 3.9s behind the Red Bull. Bottas was still fourth ahead of Räikkönen, but behind the Finns, Daniel had reduced the gap to just 4.6s.
But while the gap between the Australian and the Finn would contract and expand in bursts over the final stages, Daniel was never able to mount a concerted attack and he was eventually forced to settle for sixth place, his first non-podium finish at the Singapore Grand Prix with Red Bull.
At the front Hamilton controlled the pace and after 61 laps crossed the line to take his 69th career win with 8.9s in hand over Max who scored his sixth podium finish of the season to date and the 17th of his career overall.
Behind him, Vettel took third ahead of Bottas, Räikkönen and Daniel. Fernando Alonso was seventh for McLaren, with Renault’s Carlos Sainz eighth in front of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
6 – Podium finishes for Max so far this season. The others were scored in Spain, Canada, France, Austria and Belgium.
17 – Career podiums for Max.
12 – Singapore Grand Prix podium finishes for Red Bull Racing. That’s double the total of our nearest rivals Mercedes and Ferrari who have six each.
Singapore Grand Prix - Top 10:
- Lewis Hamilton
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- Sebastian Vettel
- Valtteri Bottas
- Kimi Raikkonen
- DANIEL RICCIARDO
- Fernando Alonso
- Carlos Sainz
- Charles Leclerc
- Nico Hulkenberg