Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2018

2018 Singapore Grand Prix Star Performers

2018 Singapore Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Charles Leclerc were our stars of the Singapore Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Lewis Hamilton

Qualifying was just the beginning of a dominant weekend for Lewis Hamilton. His first lap in Q3 proved invincible and saw him take pole by three tenths of a second. He made a clean start in the race as Verstappen and Vettel battled behind. After controlling the safety car restart perfectly, he saved his tyres during the first part of the first stint. The Mercedes pit wall responded immediately to thwart Ferrari’s attempt to get Vettel ahead and Hamilton seemed on course for a straightforward win. However he had to keep his cool when he lost almost five seconds stuck behind Romain Grosjean who was ignoring blue flags.

Max Verstappen

Throughout the weekend Verstappen complained of drive-ability problems with his car. An engine cut-out on his final run in Q3 potentially cost him pole position, but his superb lap was nonetheless good enough for a place on the front row. In the race, he was unable to fend off Vettel’s more powerful Ferrari on lap one. But a rapid in-lap on worn tyres, plus Vettel’s delay behind Sergio Perez, helped Verstappen reclaim the place. He kept Hamilton under pressure and almost capitalised on his rival’s delay in traffic to snatch the lead, but wisely backed out of it. Second, over 40 seconds clear of his team mate, was a great result.

Fernando Alonso

Out-qualified his team mate by over one second and qualified 11th, which enabled him to choose what tyres to start the race on. This gave him a strategic edge in the race which meant he could go long on the ultra-soft tyres while those who stopped before him dealt with traffic. This meant he benefited from a massive overcut and finished 7th. This was McLaren’s first time finishing best of the rest since Melbourne.

Charles Leclerc

The newly-announced Ferrari driver suffered an early shunt in practice one when he got too close to the wall and clipped his front right tyre on the barrier. He didn’t let this affect the rest of his weekend as he beat Ericsson in qualifying by seven tenths of a second. Leclerc also ran a long opening stint on the ultra-softs during which he made an impressive overtake on Pierre Gasly, then lapped quick enough to jump Nico Hulkenberg.

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Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Force India, Singapore, 2018
Perez’s peripheral vision let him down
After qualifying well, Perez’s race turned for the worst when he sent team mate Ocon into the barriers. Later, frustrated after an early stop left him stuck behind Sirotkin for 14 laps and repeatedly complaining to Charlie Whiting on radio, Perez clashed with the Williams driver. That left him with a puncture and earned him a drive through penalty.

Kevin Magnussen

Throughout the whole weekend Kevin Magnussen struggled to match the pace Grosjean was able to get out of the car. He was eliminated in Q1 and was more than a second and a half off Grosjean. In the race, the team was forced to box unexpectedly on lap 36 to clear debris from his air intakes as the engine overheated. He put on fresh hyper-softs twice before the end of the race which enabled him to set fastest lap of the race on low fuel.

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And the rest

Sebastian Vettel’s title hopes faded at a track where Ferrari were favourites. In qualifying he accepted most of the blame admitting that he could have gone faster but the strategy in the race set him up for failure. The early gamble for the undercut left him stuck behind Perez which eliminated the possibility of getting by Hamilton and even cost him second to Verstappen. For the rest of the race he had to nurse his tyres to the end since the team put him on ultra-softs.

Valtteri Bottas spent most of the race keeping Raikkonen behind which wasn’t too hard of a challenge thanks to the dirty air and limited number of overtaking opportunities. Ricciardo attempted a late charge after a long first stint on hyper-softs but couldn’t get close enough to Raikkonen to attempt a move.

Sainz was one of the many drivers to benefit from starting on the ultra-softs and avoided the traffic that caught out so many including his team mate Hulkenberg who qualified ahead of him but only managed to finish 10th.

Ericsson had a clean weekend but was never able to match the pace of his team mate. Vandoorne had the same kind of weekend and both finished just outside the points.

Toro Rosso have historically done well in Singapore and they had high hopes but the whole weekend both drivers lacked the pace to challenge for points. Hartley blamed it on a lack of upgrades as he failed to out-perform his team mate yet again.

Sirotkin had an action packed race as he found himself holding up the likes of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton with repercussions in both cases. Perez grew frustrated and became a bit too aggressive which damaged the Williams’ floor, and later Sirotkin and Grosjean received a five second penalty for ignoring blue flags when Hamilton was coming through and was blocked by the pair as they battled.

Ocon was the only retirement thanks to a first lap collision with Perez that was a racing incident, but the team have re-enacted team orders for their drivers as a result.

Over to you

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Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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26 comments on “2018 Singapore Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. I would have added Ricciardo under strugglers this weekend as well. Maybe he’s already checked out of Red Bull Racing, but where on Earth was his pace compared to Max? He was so slow in comparison on a track that has always seemed to suit him quite well. He was nowhere to be seen in both qualifying and the race, very uncharacteristic for him to lack this much over a teammate, even if Max has been outperforming him slightly throughout much of the season, the gap this race was something else entirely.

    1. Indeed, surprising for ricciardo, he got outqualified by 6 tenths or so, similarly to bottas’ gap from hamilton!

  2. I think Vettel could join the strugglers, more for his attitude than his performance. Sure he beat his teamate. Perhaps expecting anyone to beat Hamilton’s and Verstappen’s excellent laps was too much.

    But I think he should have beat Verstappen. Worse, from what was presented at least, he sounded bad. It sounded like unproductive complaining from someone nearly defeated. It doesn’t sound like he and Ferrari are in a good place.

    1. this rates performances, it is not Santa’s naughty list

      1. Ahahaha :)

    2. Him not beating Max is entirely on Ferrari. That strategy was awful and Seb knew it since Max overtook him.

      1. And not to take anything away from Max but RBR were expected to be strong in Singapore. Max started second last year too.

        1. It was a real shame he was taken out last year as in those damp conditions he would been able to up hamilton much better than what Ric did.

          1. Yes, indeed, furthermore verstappen started 2nd and hamilton 5th, so he would’ve simply kept hamilton behind, last year’s red bull was decent in the wet and verstappen is probably the only driver that can compare with hamilton nowadays on the wet with the same car.

    3. Considering that he was the only one from the top 6 who actually made an “on-track overtake”. Ferrari messed up, not him.

  3. One mistake – Sirotkin didn’t get a penalty for holding up Hamilton (because he didn’t, Grosjean did). He got the penalty for pushing Hartley off track (and nearly into the wall)

  4. Can’t really argue with that. Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso and Leclerc all shone, everyone else was distinctly average really, though most did far better than the stragglers.

    Though, had it not been for his cock-eyed defence against Hartley, I’d have almost said Sirotkin could have been a Star Preformer. His defending -up to that point- was dogged and fair. He held his ground against cars that were far faster and drivers more experienced. He just went to far with Hartley.

    1. @nikkit. Indee, he was big fun to watch. The underdog in the slowest car fighting tooth and nail.
      Loved it.

  5. Stars: Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso, and Leclerc.
    Strugglers: Perez, Sirotkin, Haas, and STR.

  6. Would Rosberg have ended up in fourth place in this race? The instinctive answer is no. Bottas’s dip in form at a critical part of the season and inability to fight for places at the front is starting to make me think Mercedes jumped to soon in resigning him when they have younger drivers with more flair available to them.

    1. It’s becoming a very consistent assessment of Bottas’ performance the last few races, @david-br.
      He seems to struggle most with overtakes.

      1. @coldfly I appreciate it was a difficult decision. Obviously he had to adapt to a new car and team during his first season. This season he started well and duly got a new contract. But you’re right, being in a top car has exposed overtaking as a major weakness. Plus I think Rosberg was consistently closer to Hamilton’s level in terms of speed.

        1. In qualy too, Rosberg was able to fight Hamilton at most tracks and they usually were pretty equal in the teammates battle.

    2. No doubt there are probably a few Mercedes board members regretting giving Bottas the opportunity to sign so early in the silly season. Ocon would have brought some much-needed spark to that side of the garage, Russel would have made for a apprentice to learn from Hamilton.

      If Stoffel is the F1 equivalent of an empty cardboard box, Bottas is plain yogurt… not the worst thing you could eat, but would be a hell of lot better with something to jazz it up a little.

      1. I don’t really know what proof there is that Ocon is better than Bottas. And if you look at Bottas’s form at the start of the year, that is what helped the team get to where they are now. Performance now isn’t any more critical than earlier on as the teams positioning is all related to what happened at the start of the season. And in the first 4 races, We just can’t say that Bottas was worse than Hamilton overall. Without than puncture in Azerbaijan, he would be leading the championship at that stage. But yes, it would be best if Bottas was always on it. He hasn’t been poor every race recently. In Italy, he really did a great job for the team while not effecting his own result much at all. Then Belgium was also a solid result given his grid penalty. It is interesting that he hasn’t actually finished any of the last 4 races in a podium position. I think he will have got past verstappen in the end in Italy, but Verstappen stopped that happening by being overly aggressive. And he got the deserved penalty. So Bottas did get the podium there which I think he deserved.

        When people compare Rosberg to Bottas, an awful lot of what is making Bottas look worse is the fact that as he joined the team, Red Bull and Ferrari were either very close, a match or better at times. That was extremely rarely the case with Rosberg from 2014-2016. Rosberg’s qualifying pace was certainly better. But he was much more error prone and I’d say Bottas is better at defending. But Rosberg was a risk taker and was better at overtaking. But they sometimes looked rather messy. Overall, Rosberg was better, but I can’t say there is a big difference. And Bottas is certainly an ideal replacement. When Mercedes know what to expect with Bottas and are happy enough to resign him, it clearly wasn’t worth it to them to risk another driver. They also made it look quite possible that he could be racing with them the following season too. He has a 1 year contract with an option to extend. Yes, that is the teams option, but given he has been given that showes they have more confidence in him now than after his first season. I still think it is most likely he will have 2 more years with this team. I think Ocon is very good, but I think Perez’s form has dropped this year which is making Ocon look better than he really is.

  7. Sirotkin should have got more praise for making the race a little exciting and up until diving over the limit against Hartley he actually was showing pretty good defending. First time I’ve seen anything from him that made me think that given a stronger car he’d have the potential Williams say he does.

  8. This was a tough one to judge, in hindsight Alonso and Leclerc were the two that most benefited from starting outside the top 10, so they had a big advantage on that regard. With that said Alonso was the last guy to finish on the lead lap, so there was pace in there definitely, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened in case Hulk (somehow managed to be back in a point scoring position, honorable mention to him), Perez and Grosjean had the chance of a proper strategy.

    There is also the case to be made that Sainz could be a struggler too, out-qualified by his teammate by almost 0.3s and finishing behind Alonso almost 30s, only in front of the other Renault due to other circumstances.

    I feel as well there isn’t much point comparing Alonso to Stoff, if last year around here we couldn’t give a good rating to Massa due to his team-mate, it is only fair to do the same. Stoffel has been constantly off the pace, either it is his fault or not is irrelevant here, we reached a point where he isn’t a good comparison point.

    Usually I try to find in the midfield who the star performers were and see who stands out even though we don’t get to see those guys as much, but for this race I would only go with Hamilton and Max as star performers. Alonso and Leclerc above the rest, but their performances seem to be exacerbated by the predicament of others starting in the top 10 (Imagine explaining to a new fan that for this race it was better to qualify out of the top 10)

  9. To be fair, Perez was very fast in the opening stint.

  10. Alonso was great. I will miss him next year. To get that car in the top 10 is an amazing job. Of course Hamilton is fantastic as well but he is in the best car…

  11. I don’t think Lecerc should have made the list. I think his crash in free practice shows he’s still not ready for the big time. I’m sure with more time he may be awesome… just not yet.

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