When today's Singapore Grand Prix was scheduled to start, torrential rains had left racing safely unviable and the race's tradition of being run at night made made track drying a slower process than in a more traditional race. After a delay of an over an hour, the wet track was dried by the field over the course of the time-certain 2-hour race. That process led to more than a normal GP's fair share of on-track incidents.
For Sergio Perez, that chaos was opportunity. While his teammate Max Verstappen was forced to start eighth after losing his shot at pole in qualifying, Perez was able to start second and pull away from pole sitter Charles Leclerc to take an early lead. Perez incurred a potential penalty by jumping a safety car start, but he was able to build a gap of seven seconds by the end of the race and protect himself from the expect five second penalty.
The actual has not yet been announced, so it is still possible that the stewards could choose to give Perez an unusual ten second time penalty for the infraction and change the result of the race.
Leclerc and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the podium, while the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo used a well-timed virtual safety car to get onto slicks at the last possible moment and grab fourth and fifth. Lance Stroll finished sixth for Aston Martin.
Max Verstappen slid from eighth to outside of the top ten on the start and his race never got any easier. He would climb into the top five before a bad lock-up on a restart, forcing another pit stop and pushing him back into the mid-pack. Red Bull's star was able to eventually fight his way back to seventh by beating out final points scorers Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, and Pierre Gasly. However, despite a great mathematical chance to do so entering the weekend, he will not leave the race with his second championship locked up. That will have to wait for Suzuka.
Heavy attrition led to a staggering six retirements. Zhou Guanyu and Nicholas Latifi crashed into each other early in the race, bringing out the day's first safety car. Alex Albon and Yuki Tsunoda both crashed on their own while pushing hard. Alpine's two cars both suffered engine issues, with Fernando Alonso dropping out early and Esteban Ocon following him a dozen or so laps later. Just 14 drivers finished the race, while 12 finished on the lead lap.
After a two year break, Formula 1 returns to the legendary Suzuka next weekend. With so few points left to hand out this season, Max Verstappen will have a very good chance of being crowned champion after that race.
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