Max Verstappen’s title coronation will have to wait at least one more race.
Verstappen finished seventh Sunday in a weird Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix as his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez won the race. Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were far and away the fastest on the track while Verstappen, who started eighth, got only as high as fifth before his chances of a podium disappeared when he overdrove a corner trying to pass Lando Norris and had to pit for new tires.
The race started with the entire field on intermediate tread tires after it rained. The grand prix was delayed an hour so the track could be cleared of standing water and the delay combined with a noise curfew meant it bumped up against the two-hour time limit before the completion of the 61 scheduled laps.
Six of the 20 drivers who started the race failed to finish. Both Williams cars had to retire because of incidents and the Alpine cars of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon had engine problems. Guanyu Zhou was the first car out of the race after he was run into the wall by Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Yuki Tsunoda brought out the third and final safety car of the race when his car went into a wall.
Tsunoda’s crash came as teams were putting slick tires on with the track finally starting to dry out. Perez, who took the lead on the race start, held off Leclerc on slick tires over the race’s final 35 minutes while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was a distant third and Lando Norris finished fourth.
F1 announced that Perez would be investigated after the race for not keeping close enough to the pace car ahead of the restart after Tsunoda's wreck. However, he pulled away from Leclerc by more than five seconds over the race's final laps to mitigate any possible five-second time penalty.
Sainz ran third to Perez and Leclerc the entire race but wasn’t close to being in contention for the win. He was a distant third to both drivers before the tire changeover and even seemed to be holding up Lewis Hamilton in fourth.
Hamilton dropped down the running order after he bumped into the barriers while chasing Sainz. Hamilton fell from fourth because he needed a new front wing and ended up ninth after he failed to get back any of his track position and hit a slick spot while trying to pass Sebastian Vettel for seventh late in the race.
Verstappen scores 6 points
Verstappen entered Sunday’s race 116 points ahead of Leclerc and 125 ahead of Perez. With six races to go, he could have clinched the title if Leclerc and Perez had bad races.
Instead, Verstappen’s lead over Leclerc is now 104 points and his lead over Perez is 106. He can clinch the title next weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix if he’s more than 115 points ahead of any driver at the end of the race. Drivers get 25 points for winning a race and can get a point for the fastest lap. There’s also eight points available in the final sprint race of the season ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Perez’s win snaps a five-race winning streak for Verstappen and is the 13th win for Red Bull Racing in the first 17 races of the 2022 season. Verstappen has 11 wins to three for Leclerc and two for Perez, who won the Monaco Grand Prix in May. Carlos Sainz is the only other driver to win a race this season when he was victorious in the British Grand Prix.
1. Sergio Perez
2. Charles Leclerc
3. Carlos Sainz
4. Lando Norris
5. Daniel Ricciardo
6. Lance Stroll
7. Max Verstappen
8. Sebastian Vettel
9. Lewis Hamilton
10. Pierre Gasly
11. Valtteri Bottas
12. Kevin Magnussen
13. Mick Schumacher
14. George Russell
15. Yuki Tsunoda
16. Esteban Ocon
17. Alex Albon
18. Fernando Alonso
19. Nicholas Latifi
20. Zhou Guanyu