The 17th round of the 2022 F1 season took place on the streets of Singapore. We outline the race in our report F1 Review Singapore 2022.
The Grand Prix at Singapore has its place in F1 history as being the first night race to be run on the calendar. It was first run in the late 1960s at Thomson Road but did not count towards the F1 world championship. It was first run as a world championship Grand Prix at Marina Bay in 2008. The circuit is demanding and it is very difficult for drivers to pass others. There has been at least one safety car period in each Grand Prix held. The circuit has also been the venue of one of the most controversial F1 scandals in 2008, namely, “Crashgate”.
The race began in sodden conditions and the start was delayed by an hour. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) and Nicolas Latifi (Williams-Mercedes) came together on lap seven. The Canadian crowded the Chinese driver into the wall under braking at Turn 5, bringing out the safety car. This was the beginning of what was to be an incident-filled race…
Red Bull Racing made a blunder with world championship leader Max Verstappen in qualifying. The Dutchman, on his flying lap, was well on his way to claim pole position, but had to abort. The titleholder was indignant, to say the least. It transpired that his machine did not have enough fuel left to provide a sample to FIA post qualifying. This would have resulted in disqualification and the team felt it more prudent to start eighth.
The Dutchman bogged down at the start, dropping four places, but soon regained his composure. He locked up under braking and ran down an escape road in the latter stages of the race and was forced to pit. He recovered to finish a respectable seventh. Teammate Sergio Perez had a weekend to remember. He qualified on the outside of the front row of the grid and blasted into the lead at the start. He dominated proceedings and led every lap of the race, taking his fourth career victory. He deservedly won the Driver of the Day accolade.
Ferrari had a solid day at the office. Charles Leclerc took his ninth pole position of the season, but couldn’t convert that into victory on race day, chasing Perez to the chequered flag. Teammate Carlos Sainz had a relatively lonely race to finish third.
Fernando Alonso (Alpine) made history as being the first F1 driver to start 350 Grands Prix. His race came to a premature end on lap 22, while defending sixth position from Verstappen. Teammate Esteban Ocon ground to a halt not long afterwards, hurting Alpine in their constructors championship with McLaren-Mercedes. Both McLaren drivers, on the other hand, scored well at Marina Bay. Lando Norris drove strongly to finish fourth, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished a fine fifth. This will do the “Honey Badger” no harm at all, after losing his drive with McLaren for 2023.
Aston Martin had their best race of the season, with Lance Stroll finishing sixth and Sebastian Vettel eighth. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) demonstrated the strength of his mount, sliding off the track and soundly punting the tyre wall head-on. Despite this, the Englishman managed to claim points for ninth position.
Mercedes took the liberty of changing George Russell’s power unit, which resulted in the Englishman having to start the race from pit lane. He struggled to 16th, before the team fitted him with slick rubber at the virtual safety car on lap 22. It was determined to be too early, as he lapped a good 10 seconds slower than the leaders. He finished well out of the points. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) claimed the last point on offer. Teammate Yuki Tsunoda, though, destroyed the front of his mount when he slid into the barriers late in the race.
Verstappen (341 points; Leclerc 237 points) maintains his stranglehold on the 2022 F1 world championship log. The championship will decided in his favour at the next race if he claims only four fewer points than his rival. Perez (235 points) is snapping at Leclerc’s heels in third position. Russell (203 points) and Sainz (202) are currently vying for fourth in the standings.
Red Bull Racing (576 points) dominates the constructors’ standings ahead of Ferrari (439 points). The Italian marque is comfortably ahead of Mercedes (373 points). McLaren (129 points) has taken over the mantle of “best of the rest” following Alpine’s (125 points) misfortune at Singapore.
The 18th round of the 2022 F1 world championship takes place at Suzuka, Japan, from 7 to 9 October, Suzuka is a legendary circuit, owned by Honda, and has been the venue of some spectacular races. One hopes the monsoon season doesn’t affect the weather on race day…