Singapore F1 Grand Prix 2019 Results: Sebastian Vettel Leads Home Ferrari 1-2

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2019

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 22: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 leads Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 22, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel clinched his first win for over a year at the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday. 

The four-time world champion was the inadvertent beneficiary of a strategic decision from his team, as the move to bring him into the pits early from third saw him undercut team-mate Charles Leclerc, who led the race after starting on pole.

It meant Leclerc dropped back into second, where he eventually finished, due to no fault of his own. Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull, with world champion and championship leader Lewis Hamilton in fourth.

Formula 1 @F1

RACE CLASSIFICATION How they crossed the line in Marina Bay 📊 #F1 #SingaporeGP https://t.co/mQhqY2XEu6

The race in Singapore has been renowned for chaotic starts in the past, although the drivers enjoyed a clean getaway on Sunday.

Leclerc was fast off the line and was able to build a one-second advantage by the end of the first lap. The Monegasque was helped by the fact that his Ferrari team-mate was applying serious pressure to Hamilton for second spot.

Vettel found some searing speed on the first lap, but the world champion showed his class with some excellent defensive driving:

Sky Sports F1 @SkySportsF1

🚦AND IT'S LIGHTS OUT AND AWAY WE GO🚦  Vettel challenges Hamilton on the opening lap, Russell picks up damage and Sainz has a puncture! 💥 #SingaporeGP 📺Live on Sky Sports F1 📱Live on the App and Sky Go: https://t.co/P77AcXC9sN 💻Live blog: https://t.co/CkqLNAZAQx https://t.co/8ZFQxhYbr8

Eventually, Hamilton was able to establish himself in the race and put some distance between himself and Vettel. Gradually, he worked his way back up towards the race leader, chopping down the gap to Leclerc back to under a second.

Meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo was making gains further back in the field after starting at the back of the grid and was clearly in the mood for racing:

Autosport Live @autosportlive

"We're not ****ing around, let's go boys!" says Ricciardo to Renault as he sizes up Kvyat. #F1

The race burst into life after the first round of pitstops for the leaders. Vettel was under pressure from Nico Hulkenberg, so was brought in first by Ferrari. Leclerc came in a couple of laps later, only to find himself behind his team-mate, who had gained time on the undercut.

As relayed by F1 journalist Luke Smith, that in turn had a knock-on effect on Hamilton, who suddenly found himself in a tricky situation:

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Vettel gets the undercut!!! He passes Leclerc at pit exit and is now the net leader. Hamilton in trouble? #F1 #SingaporeGP

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Mercedes keep Hamilton out. Banking on a Safety Car now if they want to win this? Vettel was 1.5s quicker than Hamilton on the last lap #F1 #SingaporeGP

Vettel was able to clear a few cars still out on track on a longer strategy to take the outright lead of the race, with his team-mate and Verstappen nestled behind him. After coming in to pit, Hamilton was down in fourth, albeit with tyres that would be fresher at the end of the race.

A crash for George Russell and a breakdown for Sergio Perez meant the race was temporarily neutralised twice in quick succession. However, it was enough to budge the contenders for victory back together, setting up a potentially fascinating climax.

While Leclerc was frustrated and keen to overhaul his team-mate at the restart, he was reminded to be responsible by his team:

Luke Smith @LukeSmithF1

Leclerc: "I want everything, even engine mode Engineer: "Charles we need to bring the car home" LEC: "Yeah yeah, I won't do anything stupid. It's not my goal. I want us to finish 1-2. I just think it's unfair. This one time, I won't be stupid"

After another brief safety car following Kimi Raikkonen's retirement from the race, the action did get underway again, with Vettel and Leclerc negotiating the threat of Verstappen well at the front of the race.

It meant the battle to watch in the final stages was between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the former all over the back of the Red Bull in the closing laps. Eventually, the Dutchman did just enough to ensure he joined the two Ferrari drivers on the podium.

For Vettel, it's been a year to forget, with a number of sloppy errors costing him at crucial times. Ferrari will hope this victory is enough to finally spark the German's season into life.