Verstappen achieves a record-breaking 14th win

Two-time world champion Max Verstappen continues to impress this season by winning the Mexico Grand Prix with ease and achieving a record-breaking 14th victory.

After acing the start from pole and once it became clear well ahead of the final laps that his medium tyres would hold on, Verstappen dominated to take victory and set a new record for single-season wins.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second position as the team tried an aggressive strategy but wasn’t fast enough to challenge or beat Verstappen.

Home hero Sergio Perez finished third position ahead of George Russell, with the Ferrari drivers a minute behind by the finish in fifth and sixth.

At the start, Verstappen launched well in front of Russell and swung right in front of the Mercedes on the very long run down to the first corner – with Russell gaining from the Red Bull’s slipstream to run ahead of Hamilton and Perez.

Just before they braked for Turn 1, Russell moved left to the outside line but ended up just following Verstappen through the right-hander and deep towards the grass runoff on the outside.

As Verstappen scampered through unopposed, Russell bounced over the kerbs at Turn 2, with Hamilton by this top alongside his teammate and getting ahead with better drive out of Turn 3.

There, Russell came along Hamilton but ran out of room and had to climb over the kerbs, therefore losing momentum and being jumped the quickly arriving Perez into Turn 4 at the end of the second straight.

Verstappen immediately moved out of DRS threat at the end of lap one of 71, with Hamilton giving chase having started on the medium tyres, as did Russell, compared to the used softs fitted to the two Red Bulls.

Over the next phase of the race, the gap between the leaders fluctuated slightly, but generally held around 1.5 seconds as Perez and Russell ran a few seconds further adrift and falling further behind over the course of the first stint.

Approaching the end of the race’s first quarter, Verstappen upped his pace in a bid to break the tow to the Mercedes, but Hamilton was able to hang on just over two seconds behind before the leader’s softs began to give up.

From a maximum of 2.4 seconds, Verstappen’s advantage was down to 1.6 seconds by the time he came in at the end of lap 25 – one lap after Perez had pitted and suffered a slow left-rear change that left him stationary for 5.0 seconds.

Running the more durable tyre, Mercedes left Hamilton out – his mediums showing none of the dark wear patches that had been evident on Verstappen’s left-front soft before he stopped.

But Hamilton only remained out for another four laps before he was brought in to switch to the hard tyres, with Mercedes instead leaving Russell out to complete a much longer first stint.

He therefore led until the end of lap 34, Verstappen cycling back into the lead at half-distance with a near seven-second lead and Hamilton under more pressure from Perez running closely behind – Checo having cleared the off-the-pace Ferrari pair after his slow stop.

Hamilton suggested the hards were not performing as well as the mediums he had given up, with Mercedes in turn implying performance drop-off logged at the end of his first stint might give him a chance to catch Verstappen late on.

That looked a mighty ask 15 laps into Hamilton’s second as he faced a near 10 seconds gap to the dominant leader, but at least able to keep Perez at arm’s length just a few seconds behind.

Indeed, the status quo continued to hold, with Hamilton questioning whether his hard tyre set was the right compound to be on and Mercedes insisting it was due to its added durability on a one-stopper.

But with Verstappen continuing to edge away by a few tenths each lap as the leaders made their way through traffic, with 15 laps left he had a lead of 12.1 seconds.

As it turned out, the Mercedes team’s hoped-for dramatic pace drop off for Red Bull never happened and Verstappen romped home to win by 15.1 seconds having completed a massive 46-lap final stint on the mediums.

A late race stoppage for Fernando Alonso, who had been running comfortably in seventh before an engine issue caused him to lose pace and eventually stop in the Turn 1 runoff, did not cause much of a disruption other than a short virtual safety car activation on laps 65-66 as the Alpine was quickly moved behind the barriers.

Perez ended up 2.9s behind Hamilton having fallen further behind shortly before the VSC, with Russell fourth and also vocally frustrated about having to run the hards in his second stint.

That ended up only being his middle stint as Mercedes pitted Russell to take the softs for a final lap shot at the fastest lap bonus point, which he duly secured with a one minute, 20.153 seconds.

Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc home in an anonymous race for Ferrari – the Spaniard ending up 58.8 seconds adrift of Verstappen and the only action for the pair involving Perez’s post-stop passing and Sainz doing likewise to Alonso after his own service to go from softs to mediums.

Leclerc the last car on the lead lap and 10 seconds behind his teammate, the drama to the finish concerned McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

He had produced the second-longest opening stint on the mediums in staying out until lap 45, after which he was rapid on the softs but made a bad error hitting Yuki Tsunoda at Turn 6 a few laps after his pitstop.

With the AlphaTauri retiring in the pits, Ricciardo was handed a 10s-time addition penalty, which he overcame with a sterling drive up the field after being waved by teammate Lando Norris, who was completing the medium-hard strategy.

Ricciardo produced pass after pass – including being part of a double move on Alonso into Turn 1 shortly before the Spaniard retired, with his teammate Esteban Ocon going by ahead of Ricciardo into Turn 1 before in turn being caught and passed by the honey badger.

In clear air from there, Ricciardo charged and eventually finished 12.1 sconds ahead of Ocon to negate his penalty.

Norris and Valtteri Bottas, who had dropped back on lap one after his fine qualifying and then battled the Alpines in the first and middle phases of the race before falling back, completing the top ten.

Tsunoda and Alonso were the race’s only retirements.

So not the most thrilling Mexico Grand Prix as Verstappen was in a different league compared to his rivals. To achieve 14 wins this season is unbelievable. Max is on fire this season with his winning form. Just two races left in this season of Formula 1 racing.

Mexico Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:38:36.729
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +15.186s
3 Sergio Perez Red Bull +18.097s
4 George Russell Mercedes +49.431s
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +58.123s
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +68.774s
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap
9 Lando Norris McLaren +1 lap
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +1 lap
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap
12 Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1 lap
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap
16 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1 lap
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams +2 laps
– Fernando Alonso Alpine DNF
– Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri DNF

Verstappen takes pole at Mexico ahead of the Mercedes pair

Two-time world champion Max Verstappen achieved his sixth pole position of the season and will start ahead of the Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton for the Mexico Grand Prix.

Home crowd hero Sergio Perez took fourth, while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was a surprise star of qualifying to split the Ferrari drivers and secure sixth on the grid for Sunday’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

After Hamilton had led Q1 and Q2, he lost his opening time in Q3 for cutting Turn 3, with Verstappen leading at the head of the times after those first runs in the final segment, his one minute, 17.947 seconds breaking into the one minute, 17 seconds bracket for the first time all session.

Perez, like he had in the first runs, led the pack around for the final fliers and he improved with his last go, but not by enough to topple his teammate nor Russell, who trailed by 0.132 seconds after the opening goes.

Following Perez, the two Ferrari drivers could not recover from slow opening sectors on their last laps, with Sainz unable to improve his personal best from the first runs and ending up fifth.

Leclerc did improve but not by enough to trouble the top positions, which left the focus on the Mercedes drivers after Verstappen then flashed through to improve the best time to a one minute, 17.775 seconds.

That became the pole lap when Hamilton finally registered a Q3 time that was 0.309 seconds behind Verstappen’s new best and still not quicker than Russell, who lost his final time for sliding off track beyond the Turn 12 exit kerbs entering the stadium but had done enough already to secure second.

While the focus was on the frontrunners, Bottas slipped in a one minute, 18.401 seconds having been in the top six in both Q1 and Q2 in a strong showing for Alfa Romeo.

Behind Leclerc came Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso, who completed just a single run in Q3 during the action lull between the two efforts completed by all the rest, with Esteban Ocon rounding out the top ten in the other Alpine.

Daniel Ricciardo was the highest-placed faller in Q2, the McLaren driver not to set a personal best on their final flier, missing out behind Alonso in the middle segment by just 0.053 seconds.

Behind Ricciardo came Zhou Guanyu, then the AlphaTauri pair of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly – both frustrated by their lap of grip and the latter particularly annoyed to end up out after completing a clean final run.

The final driver eliminated in Q2 was Kevin Magnussen, who will drop five places on the grid for Sunday’s race for Haas having to fit a sixth internal combustion engine of the year to his car after it ground to a halt during FP1 with Pietro Fittipaldi aboard.

In Q1, Zhou’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Mick Schumacher, the Haas driver losing his penultimate lap that would have easily been fast enough to get through for cutting the kerbs at Turn 2.

Although Schumacher, who ended up just behind his grid-penalty-addled teammate at the end of Q1, set a personal best on his final flier, it was 0.8 seconds slower than his deleted previous time and left him vulnerable as the final laps in the opening segment were completed.

Sebastian Vettel ended P17 but behind Schumacher because the Haas driver set his identical one minute, 20.491 seconds first, with Lance Stroll just behind in the other Aston Martin. Stroll will start last as a result of his penalty for his incident with Alonso in Austin.

The Williams pair of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear of the field, with the former the only driver knocked out in Q1 not to set a personal best on his final lap – thanks to an off-track moment at Turn 8, having had to catch a rear axle slide in the preceding corner.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with pole position but there’s a long run down towards Turn 1 so starting on row two will add Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez especially with the slipstream effect. Going to be a fascinating opening lap, so game on!

Mexico Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:17.775
2 George Russell Mercedes 1:18.079
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:18.084
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:18.128
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:18.351
6 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:18.401
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.555
8 Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.721
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:18.939
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:19.010
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:19.325
12 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:19.476
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:19.589
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:19.672
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:20.419
16 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:20.419
17 Alex Albon Williams 1:20.859
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:21.167
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:19.833
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:20.520

Verstappen wins and secures constructors’ title for Red Bull Racing

Newly crowned world champion Max Verstappen overcame a bad pitstop to hunt down and defeat Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes late on in Formula 1’s 2022 United States Grand Prix, sealing Red Bull Racing’s constructors’ title in the process.

This race victory puts Verstappen level with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel on Formula 1’s single-season win record, with 13 apiece in one season for the multiple world champions.

Charles Leclerc recovered from his power unit change grid drop to finish third for Ferrari, salvaging a podium for the Scuderia after polesitter Carlos Sainz was eliminated in a Turn 1 tangle with George Russell that left Verstappen as a dominant leader for much of the contest even through two safety car periods before the picture all changed late-on.

At the start, Verstappen made a much better getaway versus Sainz from the front row, with the Red Bull ahead as they braked at the top of the hill for the left-hand Turn 1.

There, Sainz’s race was ended as Russell, locking up as he steamed into the apex alongside teammate Hamilton, speared into the side of the Ferrari and spun it to the rear of the pack in an incident that the stewards’ deemed was worthy only of a five-second penalty for Russell.

That left Verstappen clear up front, chased by Hamilton as Sainz came into the pits at the end of the opening lap fearing he had a puncture but in fact retired there as Ferrari had spotted the contact had caused a water leak.

Hamilton was initially able to match Verstappen lapping in the one minute, 42 seconds, but soon the lead was stretching away at the front, noting the challenge of keeping things pointing forwards in the gusts regularly blasting the Circuit of the Americas under sporadically cloudy skies.

Verstappen closed out the opening ten laps of 56 three seconds clear of Hamilton, before making a big gain towards the end of the first stint, which meant he was nearly five seconds clear by the time the Mercedes stopped for the first time on lap 12.

Red Bull called Verstappen in next time by, with both leaders going from the medium tyres they had started on to take the hards.

Verstappen’s gap was so big he rejoined only behind Perez, who had picked up damage in a lap one clash with Valtteri Bottas but did not have to pit for a new front wing as his right-side endplate later flew off as he made his way by the Aston Martin cars that had trailed Hamilton early-on.

That meant Hamilton followed the yet-to-stop Leclerc, Lance Stroll and Vettel and his gap to Verstappen grew to 6.3 seconds over the first few laps on the hard tyres.

Just as Red Bull and Mercedes were asking their charges for feedback on the white-walled rubber, the safety car changed the complexion of the race after Bottas lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo going through the penultimate corner on Verstappen’s 18th lap and the Finn ended up beached in the gravel.

This meant Leclerc and Vettel could stop for cheap pitstops – Stroll having come in just before Bottas’s off – and they then followed Hamilton and Perez in the snake behind Verstappen.

The Dutchman, his previous lead vanished, led the restart on lap 22 – easily pulling clear of Hamilton again – but the green flag racing did not last long as on the same lap Fernando Alonso and Stroll had a shocking crash running down the back straight.

With Stroll trailing Vettel and Russell after his first pre-safety car stop having run as high as third early on in the aftermath of the Turn 1 incident, Alonso got a rapid run on his soon-to-be Aston teammate heading down the long back straight.

Alonso closed in on Stroll and moved left to overtake as they approached top speed, but the Canadian driver moved a split-second later and the Alpine was launched skywards over the Aston’s left rear.

Stroll was sent spinning and into retirement, but Alonso – minus his front wing – was able to recover to the pits after bouncing down hard but only glancing the wall on the inside of the track.

Although the crash, which will be investigated after the race, sent a cloud of debris into the pack behind and across the track, it took just three laps of safety car race suspension for the incident to be clear.

On lap 26, Verstappen aced another restart and immediately pulled over a second clear, as the attention turned to Leclerc’s attempts to get on the podium as he trailed Perez closely ahead of DRS being enabled again on lap 28.

After a first attempt at passing the Red Bull into Turn 12 at the end of the back straight went wrong when Leclerc went deep and took to the runoff, also avoiding Perez locked up and sliding on the inside, he attacked at the same spot again on lap 30.

With a late dive to the inside, Leclerc shot to the left-hander’s apex and muscled his way ahead, then critically stayed just about within track limits on the exit.

The Ferrari driver was then unable to cruise up behind Hamilton, who was by this point starting to threaten Verstappen’s lead for the first time as the Red Bull racer struggled in the gusts.

Just as Hamilton neared a second adrift from Verstappen again, Mercedes called him in for a second set of hards at the end of lap 34, but it was Verstappen’s second stop on the following tour that changed the race’s story.

When he pitted to go back to the mediums, a delay getting his left-front hard off was compounded by Red Bull having to use a second wheel gun to tighten the nut back up on the replacement medium.

That left Verstappen stuck for 11 seconds, which not only meant Hamilton easily moved ahead at the end of his out-lap, but Leclerc jumped the long-time leader too.

Although Perez and Vettel ran long, the latter dropping down the order with a long second stop when he eventually pitted, Hamilton suddenly held the net lead with a 5.6 seconds, as Verstappen set about chasing down Leclerc.

He quickly closed in on his former 2022 title rival and made his move into Turn 1 at the start of lap 39 and dived inside Leclerc, but the Ferrari was able to nip back ahead on the exit before Verstappen used DRS to blast by down the back straight later on the same tour.

That left Verstappen with 4.5 seconds gap to close against Hamilton, with a tyre compound difference to factor in too, and Leclerc initially hanging on before fading back and out of contention.

Verstappen ate into Hamilton’s lead over the next few laps and entering the final ten laps had trimmed that to a 2.0 seconds advantage – reaching DRS range for the first time on lap 49.

The next time by, Verstappen used that tool to close right in on Hamilton running down the back straight and he shot to the inside of Turn 12, with the Mercedes initially jinking left late in defence before moving back right and away from any possible clash.

Hamilton stamped on the gas and got his nose back ahead approaching the next corner, but with Verstappen having the inside line he could not mount a full attack and was then stymied by Verstappen running slow on the apex of the double-apex Turn 15 left.

Verstappen shot ahead, but Hamilton was able to stick close behind – noting Verstappen had run off the track several times before he was given a black-and-white flag warning about track limits transgressions from race control.

Hamilton kept suggesting Verstappen was still running beyond track limits at several points, but as he tried to hang on close behind he himself was handed a black-and-white flag warning for the same infraction.

After Hamilton lost DRS at the end of lap 53, he dropped back quickly and eventually came home 5.0 seconds behind, with Leclerc third and Perez fourth – the top four covered by just 8.2 seconds.

Mercedes pitted Russell late to take softs in a late attempt to take the fastest lap, which he did on the final tour as he came home fifth position ahead of Lando Norris.

After all he had gone through, Alonso remarkably charged to finish seventh with a series of late passes, while Vettel’s race ended in thrilling circumstances as he battled Haas’ one-stopping Kevin Magnussen on the final tour.

Vettel recovered from his own very slow service to reach Magnussen’s eighth position right at the end – stealing it with a bold move into the penultimate corner having tried to brave it out around the outside through Turns 16, 17 and 18 just before.

Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top ten, with Stroll, Bottas and Sainz the only retirements and a host of drivers in the pack getting track limits and collision time penalties.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in achieving 13 wins this season to match the record set by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. Plus kudos to Red Bull Racing in achieving the constructors’ championship. Such a mighty team effort to win both titles in this fascinating and exciting season.

United States Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:42:11.687
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +5.023s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +7.501
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull +8.293
5 George Russell Mercedes +44.815
6 Lando Norris McLaren +53.785
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine +55.078
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +65.354s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas +65.834s
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +70.919s
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine +72.875s
12 Alex Albon Williams +75.057s
13 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +76.164s
14 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +81.763s
15 Mick Schumacher Haas +84.490s
16 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +90.487s
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams +103.588s
– Lance Stroll Aston Martin DNF
– Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo DNF
– Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF

Sainz takes pole in the United States Grand Prix

Carlos Sainz achieved his third career pole position in Formula 1 with an excellent qualifying lap around the Circuit of the Americas to take P1 for Ferrari.

His Scuderia teammate Charles Leclerc was second fastest but will take a grid penalty following power unit changes, meaning the new world champion Max Verstappen will join Carlos on the front row.

After finding himself within 0.1-seconds of pole on four occasions in 2022, Sainz pulled it off to top Formla qualifying for the third time in his career after overcoming Leclerc’s Q3 run one advantage by 0.065s.

Leclerc’s initial best time in the final segment was a one minute, 34.624 seconds that gave him the top spot provisionally ahead of Sainz, with Lewis Hamilton third after a blistering middle sector and Verstappen only fourth.

The two-time world champion tried a unique Q3 strategy of completing an additional slow preparation lap for his final Q3 flier, but he could not top the Ferrari duo after losing time in the slow corners in the final sector and finished 0.092 seconds adrift.

Leclerc, who will drop ten places on the grid for taking extra engine parts at Austin, led the way of the four initial Q3 leaders and he improved the first place benchmark to a one minute, 34.421 seconds, but Sainz, following just behind his teammate topped that with a one minute, 34.356 seconds.

Verstappen’s effort was enough to dislodge Hamilton from third as the Mercedes driver could not better his first Q3 time and Lewis failing to improve opened the door for Sergio Perez to slot in ahead too, which the Red Bull driver did with a personal best set while running a few seconds ahead of the Ferrari pair.

Behind Hamilton came his teammate George Russell, with Lance Stroll seventh despite only completing one run in Q3 – offset from the rest after they had initially completed runs at the start of the final segment and while Verstappen was beginning his extra preparation tour.

Lando Norris took eighth for McLaren, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo rounding out the top ten.

Alonso and Perez will drop five places from where they qualified for also taking additional power unit parts outside the permitted season-long allocation.

In Q2, which Leclerc topped after Sainz had led the way in Q1, Alex Albon led the pack through the final Q2 runs and set a personal best to leap into the top ten before three of his rivals improving late on shuffled him back to P11 and out.

Sebastian Vettel lost his best lap from early in Q2 to understeering off and beyond track limits exiting Turn 9 at the end of the Esses sequence, but he did enough with his final effort to climb to P12, albeit without troubling Q3.

Then came Pierre Gasly, struggling with braking for the second weekend in a row – particularly at the big stops of Turn 1 and Turn 11 – and letting AlphaTauri know his fury.

Zhou Guanyu ended up ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in P14 and P15, but only because both lost their best Q2 laps and were relegated to the back of the runners knocked out in that segment – Zhou, who will lose drop five places on the grid, ahead because his banker effort was better.

Tsunoda slipped beyond track limits at Turn 9, while Zhou’s indiscretion came at Turn 12 and cost him a position in the top ten that gave Norris a late reprieve after he had initially ended up P11 in Q2.

In Q1, Kevin Magnussen was shuffled back to P15 and out by Albon’s late improvement, the Haas driver ending up ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, out in Q1 for the third time in the last five races.

Esteban Ocon was a shock faller in P18, finishing only ahead of Mick Schumacher and Nicholas Latifi – who were the only two runners not to set personal bests on their final fliers.

Latifi just failed to match his best from the opening Q1 runs, while Schumacher’s last effort was over when it had barely begun as he spun at Turn 1.

Mick looped his Haas around in a quick 360° spin, the rear coming around to the right as he applied the power down past the apex of the bumpy, up/down hairpin that starts the Austin lap.

So congratulations to Carlos Sainz with pole position. His teammate Charles Leclerc set the initial pace in the first two segments of qualifying, but in the important top ten shootout, it was Carlos who rose to the challenge and take pole. The new 2022 champion Max Verstappen will line up alongside following the grid penalty for Leclerc. The opening lap and drag race to the uphill Turn 1 is going to be exciting. Game on.

United States Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:34.356
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:34.448
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.947
4 George Russell Mercedes 1:34.988
5 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:35.598
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:35.690
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:36.319
8 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:34.645
9 Alexander Albon Williams 1:36.368*
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:36.398
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:36.740
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:34.421*
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTaur 1:37.147
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:35.876
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:36.949
16 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:37.046
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:37.068
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:37.111
19 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:36.970
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:37.244

*Grid penalties for a change of power unit

Verstappen wins the championship in shorten Suzuka race

Max Verstappen is a two-time Formula 1 world champion in surreal circumstances after Charles Leclerc received a late time penalty in a heavily delayed and wet Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

The Red Bull Racing driver dominated a time-limited and controversial event to win by close to half a minute, but not scoring the bonus point for the fastest lap looked to leave him one point short of the title.

However, a post-race five-second penalty for runner-up Leclerc – adjudged to have squeezed Sergio Perez excessively out of the last corner – dropped the Ferrari driver behind the Singapore Grand Prix winner to hand Verstappen the championship.

The ever-changing weather forecast for the Suzuka weekend culminated in the rain shower that was originally predicted to hit after the race instead of dousing the grid in the build-up.

As such, all drivers opted for intermediate tyres for what was kept as a proper standing start.

But conditions proved marginal, as the red flag was deployed owing to a messy opening lap.

Leclerc had enjoyed the superior launch, despite the limited grip, to draw alongside polesitter Verstappen and the Ferrari even pulled ahead by half a car length. However, the Red Bull driver kept his foot in through the first corner to hold the line and decisively retake first position with a brave around the outside pass.

Meanwhile, there was a litany of incidents behind in the limited visibility and low grip.

Third-starting Carlos Sainz, having been jumped by Sergio Perez, caught a patch of standing water while accelerating and the torque surge spat him at considerable into the barrier.

He was eliminated with a crumpled rear wing, while Alex Albon pulled over on the gravel with Williams engine trouble, as Zhou Guanyu spun his Alfa Romeo to rejoin in P17.

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, dropped from his impressive ninth in qualifying to P16 after a bump with Fernando Alonso into Turn 1 that pitched him into the gravel and the Aston Martin spun.

Teammate Lance Stroll, though, shot forward seven position to P11 with a committed first lap.

Pierre Gasly, starting the AlphaTauri from the pitlane owing to a rear wing spec change and revised suspension, drove over an advertising board ripped off from the Sainz impact.

That tore off his front wing and became stuck to block his visibility and force a pitstop.

For all of this, the safety car was initially deployed before the red flags halted events.

Of concern, when Gasly rejoined on full wets and just as the full red flags came, he appeared to pass at speed a flatbed recovery tractor on track through Turn 12. The driver was furious.

This incident will be investigated after the race, with Gasly summoned to the stewards.

The contention lies over Gasly’s pace while closing to the pack, which the FIA states was “up to 250km/h (155mph)”. The recovery vehicle was on track at that site for the entire field.

The stoppage had run for 42 minutes before a restart was planned, which was meant to be led by a rolling start behind the safety car as the extreme wet tyre was mandated.

However, two minutes before time, the restart procedure was suspended indefinitely by race control and over the next 80 minutes, heavier showers periodically arrived at the track.

In that time, the medical car was sent out occasionally for reconnaissance laps, but conditions did not improve sufficiently until almost two full hours had passed after the initial red flag.

But the race was then finally scheduled to restart with the cars, as before, on full wets for a rolling start with a little over 48 minutes remaining on the countdown timer.

As drivers held mixed opinions on visibility and track conditions, the safety car led an out, full and in-lap before returning to the pitlane to leave Verstappen to keep clear of Leclerc.

Vettel and Nicholas Latifi dived into the pits to swap to inters but the Aston was released side-by-side with the Williams, before Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas stopped a lap later.

With those runners setting fastest sectors, Verstappen headed Leclerc into the pits, but the Ferrari lost one second to a sticky right-rear as Perez and George Russell were held by double stacks.

That left Fernando Alonso to inherit the lead over Daniel Ricciardo and Mick Schumacher but only the Haas driver, anticipating a safety car, did not pit for inters next time around.

Verstappen tore past Schumacher on the inside, but Leclerc lost 1.6 seconds trying to demote the Haas driver to leave him 4.6 seconds in arrears of Verstappen on the ninth lap with 31 minutes to go.

Schumacher remained a sitting duck, losing out to Perez, Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton over the next tour before finally pitting on lap 12 having already dropped to P13.

Verstappen continued to extend his lead with a clear road ahead to the tune of 1.5 seconds per lap. Leclerc, though, seemed to particularly struggle as Perez was also circulating nearly 1s faster.

So, with eight minutes to run and with 243 laps completed, Verstappen held a 18 seconds advantage as Perez was only 0.8 seconds behind the sole Ferrari but despite a couple of chances, never passed.

Perez’s best attempt came when Leclerc missed the first part of the chicane only for the Ferrari driver to rejoin and squeeze Perez to the edge of the track on the sprint to the flag.

That order prevented Red Bull from pitting Verstappen late on for new inters for a shot at fastest lap, as the Dutch racer took the eventual victory an imperious 26.8 seconds clear of Leclerc.

As such, without the extra point, Verstappen appeared set to miss out on his coronation until the United States GP, only for Leclerc to be handed a five-second penalty to drop behind Perez.

Verstappen only learned of his success in the post-race interview.

Behind the top three, passing came at a premium following the rush for inters that had previously jumbled the order. Ocon defended stoutly for fourth ahead of a chasing Hamilton.

Vettel took sixth, having gained a position after Alonso made a late stop for inters to fall to P10 before climbing back up the order, as behind the Alpine ranked George Russell.

The Mercedes was one of few climbers but neatly passed Yuki Tsunoda, Norris and Latifi for ninth.

Latifi’s early move for inters returned points in ninth place as Norris completed the top ten over teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen in winning the Japanese Grand Prix and the 2022 world championship. Has the most wins in this year’s championship in the Red Bull RB16 and has driven brilliantly all season. So fully deserved this title win despite the surreal ending at Suzuka. This won’t take away Verstappen’s achievements this season. Well done Super Max!

Japanese Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 3:01:44.004
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +27.066s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +31.763s
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine +39.685s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +40.326s
6 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +46.358s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine +46.369s
8 George Russell Mercedes +47.661s
9 Nicholas Latifi Williams +70.143s
10 Lando Norris McLaren +70.782s
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +72.877s
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +73.904s
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +75.599s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas +86.016s
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +86.496s
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +87.043s
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +88.091s
18 Mick Schumacher Haas +92.523s
– Alex Albon Williams DNF
– Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF

Verstappen edges ahead of Leclerc by 0.010 seconds

Championship-elect Max Verstappen scored an important pole position at Suzuka by edging out Charles Leclerc but the Red Bull driver faces a stewards investigation over an incident with Lando Norris.

Despite failing to improve on his final run in Q3, Verstappen’s banker lap was quick enough to land the top spot in qualifying as Leclerc just dropped a hundredth in the final sector.

That comes as victory and a bonus point for fastest lap will earn Verstappen his second Formula 1 title.

In the climax to qualifying, Leclerc was the first of the pole contenders to begin his flying lap and duly improved on his personal best in the first sector before going quickest of anyone in S2.

But the Ferrari driver ran 0.01 seconds down through the closing part of the lap to miss out by 0.009 seconds, as Verstappen failed to improve in S1 and S3 after running wide and shedding some carbon.

Carlos Sainz, who had the legs on Leclerc earlier in the day, ran to third and was 0.06 seconds down as Sergio Perez will complete the second row, four tenths down on his teammate.

The Singapore Grand Prix winner had gone comfortably fastest in Q2 when Verstappen did not opt for a second lap but then complained of understeer to fall out of the fight for pole position.

Esteban Ocon ran to a strong fifth for Alpine as Lewis Hamilton led the subdued Mercedes attack in sixth over Fernando Alonso.

George Russell set the eighth-fastest time over Sebastian Vettel on his final Formula 1 appearance at Suzuka, while Lando Norris rounded out the top ten.

But there is a question mark hanging over the provisional polesitter.

Verstappen, who set the pace in Q1, led the opening segment in the final part of qualifying as he toured round in one minute, 29.304 seconds to find an imperious quarter of a second over Leclerc and Sainz.

But Norris notably had to take evasive action early into Q3 as he had to take to the grass as Verstappen seemed to attempt to warm the tyres out of 130R and the RB18 stepped wide.

The Red Bull driver did repass Norris and appeared to raise his hand by way of an apology.

The incident took place when both were on an out-lap. It will be investigated post-session.

Vettel ran out of sequence in the 15-minute Q2 to ensure clean air but he did leave himself at risk of being caught out by track position, but he initially climbed as high as fifth position.

While he was shuffled down to tenth to still make it into the shootout for pole as the improvements came, he kept ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was eliminated in P11.

The McLaren driver had looked strong on Saturday but missed the cut-off by a tiny 0.003 seconds after failing to improve on his crucial lap, as largely determined by an iffy final sector.

Valtteri Bottas dropped time in the opening sector that he could not recover so failed to improve and will start the race in P12 ahead of home favourite Yuki Tsunoda.

Zhou Guanyu took the second Alfa Romeo to P14, while Mick Schumacher was P15, the German having the measure of his teammate Kevin Magnussen despite missing all of FP2 on Friday as the team changed the chassis on his car after he crashed the Haas on an in-lap in a wet FP1.

Aston Martin driver Vettel had just about survived to fight on in Q2 after Alex Albon missed out on the top 15 by a slender 0.055 seconds in the climax to the first part of qualifying.

The Williams driver had already had a lap time deleted for pushing track limits through the famous Spoon Curve. He was then the last to run over the line in Q1 but despite a personal best first sector, he dropped time in the middle part of the lap to ensure he was eliminated.

Struggles and major complaints from both AlphaTauri drivers over the AT03’s braking throughout the session meant Pierre Gasly was knocked out at the first time of asking.

The newly confirmed 2023 Alpine driver locked up through the hairpin, to his immense frustration over team radio, to run only P17 ahead of Magnussen.

Lance Stroll failing to improve on his final go with a lock-up at the hairpin at a cost of four tenths landed him P19, while Nicholas Latifi brought up the rear – the Canadian already down to serve a five-place grid drop for his crash with Zhou in the Singapore Grand Prix.

If Max Verstappen gets a penalty for impending Lando Norris in Q3 at 130R, then the world championship will take an interesting turn at Suzuka despite the Red Bull driver scoring a pole position. If the grid penalty is applied, then Charles Leclerc will get promoted to P1. Down to the race stewards to decide the fate of the Formula 1 title.

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:29.304
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:29.314
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:29.361
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:29.709
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:30.165
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.261
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:30.322
8 George Russell Mercedes 1:30.389
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:30.554
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1:31.003
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:30.659
12 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:30.709
13 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:30.808
14 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:30.953
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:31.439
16 Alex Albon Williams 1:31.311
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:31.322
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31.352
19 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:31.419
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:31.511

Perez holds off Leclerc to win Singapore Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez achieved his second victory for the team by resisted the pressure all night long from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. But Checo faces a post-race investigation.

Perez’s Singapore Grand Prix victory at Marina Bay was impressive, as the rain-delayed race was punctuated by safety cars for multiple crashes and breakdowns.

The race was delayed by one hour and five minutes due to torrential rain falling in the build-up to the original start time, but the result was actually not confirmed at the chequered flag as Perez faces a post-race investigation for a safety car infringement.

That had been called into action twice, with three virtual safety car activations also taking place in the wet-to-dry thriller.

At the start, Leclerc and Perez made identical reactions from the front row but the Red Bull accelerated better as they raced away from the line and he swept past the Ferrari to comfortably seize the lead into Turn 1.

Behind, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton went side-by-side through Turn 1 and made light contact just ahead of the Turn 2 apex, which sent the Mercedes wide and down to third, the incident reviewed by the stewards by deemed not worthy of a full investigation.

The same thing happened for Max Verstappen cutting the first corner after he had bogged down badly leaving the line as his car nearly went into anti-stall mode and he fell from eighth to P12.

Up front, Perez scampered clear of Leclerc – but only to the tune of around a second over the first phase of the race, with Sainz and Hamilton – complaining about his inters to Mercedes very early – soon distanced by over five seconds.

Perez set a series of fastest laps but could only pull out a lead of 1.4 seconds before Leclerc began to home back in, reaching 0.8 seconds behind the Red Bull at the end of lap eight of the scheduled 61.

But there the race was neutralised by a safety car period, extending the streak of every Singapore race featuring such an intervention.

It was called to cover the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu being recovered from the Turn 5 escape road, where he had parked up after Nicholas Latifi had drifted across his path and sent him into the wall.

This broke Zhou’s front-right wheel and put him out on the spot, while Latifi toured back to the pits with a puncture, where he too retired.

The race resumed at the start of lap 11 with none of the leaders having chosen to pit – the track as it did between FP3 and qualifying taking a long time to dry, hence Perez and Leclerc lapping quickest in the two minutes bracket.

Perez aced the restart and immediately re-established his one-second gap to Leclerc, who also again quickly dropped Sainz and Hamilton – the pre-safety car scenes recreated as the two leaders were the only drivers to now lap in the one minute, 59 seconds bracket.

They exchanged fastest laps before Perez began to edge away, with his lead reaching 1.7 seconds by lap 15 and the quarter-distance mark, where the leaders began to be warned by their teams to cool their inters on the remaining wet patches, with the track still nowhere near the crossover point for slicks.

The leaders reached the one minute, 58 seconds bracket just before lap 20, at which point Perez’s lead went over two seconds for the first time.

Leclerc had just started to slide quickly further back, the race was suspended again with a virtual safety car activation on lap 21 when Fernando Alonso pulled off at Turn 10, his 350th Formula 1 start ending with an apparent engine problem.

The leaders again eschewed pitting for new inters, but back in P15 George Russell made a bold call to take medium slicks.

The VSC lasted two laps, with Perez’s lead over Leclerc resuming at 2.5 seconds but after just three further tours the first of two further VSC activations kicked in when Alex Albon – a lap one spinner at the rear of the pack – slid into the Turn 8 barriers and knocked his front wing off.

He reversed away and drove back to the pits to retire the other Williams, with the VSC ending on lap 27 but being activated again on lap 28 because Esteban Ocon had also retired with an engine issue – the Alpine expiring in a massive blowout over the Anderson Bridge and approaching Turn 13.

Racing resumed on lap 30, with Perez’s lead up to 4.3 seconds before Leclerc shot into the one minute, 56 seconds and he cut the gap back down to under three seconds within two laps.

Here a series of dramatic events took place in the background, with Hamilton, who had been very frustrated tucked up behind Sainz sliding into the barriers solo as he chased the Ferrari on lap 33.

He reversed away and rejoined just in front of 2021 title rival Verstappen, who in turn had been hotly perusing Lando Norris.

On lap one, Verstappen had looked to make quick progress back past Kevin Magnussen, but did not have an easy time of it.

He dived past the Haas at Turn 7, but on the exit appeared to squeeze the Haas towards the wall, the pair making contact and Magnussen’s left-front wing endplate getting damaged.

Magnussen then barged Verstappen out of the way at the tight Turn 11 left just before the Anderson Bridge, but the world champion made his way by on the next lap.

The Turn 7 incident was later investigated by the race stewards, but no penalty was given despite Magnussen being forced to pit to have his front wing changed by the officials just before the safety car appeared.

Verstappen by that point had also passed Yuki Tsunoda before getting stuck behind Sebastian Vettel and running over 20 seconds off the race lead.

That gap was erased by the neutralisation, after which Verstappen jumped Vettel and Pierre Gasly to run seventh by one-quarter distance.

But again he got stuck, this time behind Alonso and he remained there until the Alpine retired ahead.

Verstappen was soon all over Norris’s rear but did not look likely to a quick pass before the Albon and Ocon VSCs – at the end of the second named nearly overtaking Norris when trying to get an early restart jump and falling back.

It was into the gap Hamilton slotted, but his left-front endplate was damaged, which Verstappen reported over the radio in the hope of the Mercedes being black-and-white flagged.

Now at just past the halfway point, Russell was finally setting purple sectors on his slicks, albeit way off the back of the pack.

This triggered a wave of cars to come into the pits, with Tsunoda among the first to do so and take mediums.

But he pushed too hard on his second full lap on the slicks and smashed into the Turn 10 barrier, triggering another safety car.

Perez and Leclerc had already come into the pits – the Ferrari doing so first on lap 34 – before the race was neutralised again on lap 36 so Tsunoda’s wrecked car could be recovered.

Sainz, Hamilton and Verstappen had done likewise, with the Mercedes getting a new nose fitted, while Norris stayed out.

He came in under the safety car, which preserved his lead over Verstappen and they were the centre of attention at the lap 40 restart as Perez and Leclerc, weaving to build temperature into their mediums, easily restored their advantage over Sainz.

On the restart lap, Verstappen immediately moved to pass Norris after the Turn 6 kink down the track’s first long acceleration zone following the corner where Zhou and Latifi had clashed so long before.

But his car appeared to bottom out as he went offline and the world champion locked both his front wheels, severely damaging his mediums.

He pitted at the end of the lap and fell to P13, with the action at the front hotting up as Leclerc fired his slicks up to temperature better than Perez.

He put the Red Bull driver under severe pressure for nearly ten laps, with it now clear the race would end at the two-hour time limit and not go the scheduled distance.

Perez reported engine driveability issues under braking and while accelerating out of corners, which compound his attempts to break free from Leclerc’s lost attention.

This became even harder when DRS was finally activated on lap 43 and here Leclerc’s thrilling pursuit began.

Time and again he feigned to Perez’s inside at every major stop around the Marina Bay track – locking up briefly at Turn 15 on lap 45.

The next two times by there, Perez had major lock-ups too, but he was soaking up the pressure well.

Leclerc got the gap down to 0.4 seconds at the end of lap 47, but having to catch a massive oversteer slide at Turn 16 meant he lost critical momentum and dropped out of DRS range.

He never regained it thereafter, a lap 52 Turn 16 near-off finally breaking his pursuit as Perez’s lead shot to 2.6 seconds.

The was still work for the leader to do as he had been placed under investigation following the second safety car restart, apparently for dropping too far back from ten lengths allowed to the pace car too early, something Hamilton suggested Perez also did at the first safety car restart.

He therefore charged to a winning margin of 7.5 seconds over what was a final distance of 59 laps, with Ferrari telling Leclerc after he crossed the line second that Perez could be facing a pair of five-second penalties if found to be at fault in the investigation.

Sainz took a distant third having never had his teammate’s pace at any point, with Norris also lonely in fourth once Verstappen had erred, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who had also stopped under the safety car and so gained against his Aston Martin rivals.

Lance Stroll was the top green car home – ahead of Verstappen who had put in yet another fight back now on softs, rising back to the points over the concluding laps.

It looked as if he might stay ninth for the finish as he was bottled up again, this time behind Hamilton before the seven-time world champion made another mistake.

While sandwiched between Verstappen and Vettel up ahead, Hamilton tried to pass the second Aston on lap 57, but slid deep having taken to a still-wet part of the track approaching Turn 8.

This allowed Verstappen through and he got Vettel on the last lap, with Hamilton finishing ninth ahead of Gasly.

Russell finished at the rear of the pack behind Valtteri Bottas (11th), who he had lightly hit in a passing lunge during the early stages.

Magnussen took P12 ahead of his teammate Mick Schumacher, who Russell also collided with – this time at Turn 1 just after the second safety car restart in an incident that was investigated but not deemed worthy of punishment.

Russell stopped four times, with a late final service for a second set of softs that he used to set the race’s fastest lap at one minute, 46.458 seconds, for which he will not get a bonus point as he finished P14.

So congratulations to Sergio Perez in winning the Singapore Grand Prix with a solid drive all night by holding off Charles Leclerc. This victory was even more impressive than his Monaco Grand Prix triumph earlier this season as he had pressure all race long with so many safety cars. The post-race investigation is a worry but his dive is well deserved.

Singapore Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 2:02:15.238
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +7.595s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +15.305s
4 Lando Norris McLaren +26.133s
5 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +58.282s
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +61.330s
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull +63.825s
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +65.032s
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +66.515s
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +74.576s
11 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +93.844s
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas +97.610s
13 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
14 George Russell Mercedes +2 laps
– Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri DNF
– Esteban Ocon Alpine DNF
– Alex Albon Williams DNF
– Fernando Alonso Alpine DNF
– Nicholas Latifi Williams DNF
– Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF

Leclerc takes pole in exciting Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

Charles Leclerc came out on top following an exciting wet-to-dry qualifying session at Marina Bay, Singapore, while championship leader Max Verstappen ended up eighth fastest after being told to abandon his final lap.

After heavy rain ahead of the final practice session had soaked the Singapore Grand Prix street circuit and meant that the segment was cut in half, Q1 began with patches for the layout still very wet but the majority dry.

This meant the front-running drivers ran intermediates to get through to Q3 before finally the majority made the switch to slick tyres, with all cars fuelled to circulate throughout each segment to take advantage of the drying conditions and the major track evolution factor.

Lewis Hamilton led the way early in Q3 with a one minute, 53.082 seconds that better Yuki Tsunoda’s initial leading effort still running the inters.

Hamilton, Leclerc and Fernando Alonso exchanged first position throughout the middle part of Q3, while Verstappen showed rapid pace in the first sector before he regularly lost out with big slides in the still-damp parts of the final sector.

Leclerc’s pole-winning time of one minute, 49.412 seconds came with under a minute remaining but his opposition could not depose him at a race where he could lose the 2022 title fight to Verstappen.

Sergio Perez slotted into second before Hamilton posted a purple second sector to briefly threaten Leclerc’s top position before he fell back in the final turns.

Carlos Sainz took fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly and then came Max Verstappen.

He abandoned his two final runs, the first featuring a stunning first sector before a slide at Turn 18 meant he backed off for one final effort.

He was close but not bettering his previous personal best but was ordered to pit and not complete the lap by Red Bull to his clear frustration and confusion.

The team told him to abort in fear in running out of fuel and not giving a suitable fuel sample in parc ferme. So to avoid disqualification, it’s best to back off, abort and accept this.

Kevin Magnussen had like Tsunoda started Q3 on the inters but switched to slicks much earlier than the AlphaTauri runner, the pair ending up ninth and tenth.

Leclerc topped Q2 while running the inters throughout, despite asking his Ferrari team to consider slicks as the track continued to dry.

While this was assessed at all teams, only the Aston Martin cars of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, plus Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu opted to risk the softs.

None of them went quicker than the inter runners, with Vettel blowing what had been a promising final lap by locking both his front wheels and sliding down the Turn 7 escape road.

That left him P14 ahead of Zhou who complained of having “no grip” on his slicks gamble, with Stroll ending up ahead in P12.

Late jumps up the order from Gasly and Magnussen meant George Russell was shuffled down to a shock elimination in P11 for Mercedes, while Mick Schumacher was the other non-slicks runner to miss out on a Q3 berth.

The Haas driver did set a personal best on his final lap but could do no better than P13.

In Q1, the drivers headed out on inters, with the two Mercedes cars queuing at the end of the pitlane waiting for the action to begin, with Magnussen, Leclerc and Alex Albon among the drivers to slide down the escape roads at Turns 8 and 18.

Verstappen also had a big moment sliding towards the wall exiting Turn 17 heading towards the corner underneath the big waterfront grandstand late in the third sector, but held on and went on to top the segment ahead of Hamilton and Leclerc, the last of which did not come in to take a fresh set of inters.

Schumacher’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Valtteri Bottas, with Daniel Ricciardo P17 despite setting a personal best on his final effort.

Esteban Ocon likewise could not find enough late on and ended up a shock P18 ahead of Williams pair Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

So congratulations to Charles Leclerc in taking pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix. His championship rival Max Verstappen will start in the midfield so it’s going to be challenging for the world champion to fight through in the race. So this year’s title success might have to wait until the next race.

Singapore Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:49.412
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:49.434
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:49.466
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:49.583
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:49.966
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:50.584
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:51.211
8 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:51.395
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:51.573
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:51.983
11 George Russell Mercedes 1:54.012
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:54.211
13 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:54.370
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:54.380
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:55.518
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:56.083
17 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:56.226
18 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:56.337
19 Alex Albon Williams 1:56.985
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:57.532