Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019

Ferrari strategy helps Vettel to first win in over a year

2019 Singapore Grand Prix summary

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Sebastian Vettel scored his first Formula 1 victory for more than a year after Ferrari’s strategy helped him jump ahead of Charles Leclerc in Singapore.

Vettel scored his fifth Singapore Grand Prix victory after he moved ahead of Leclerc when they made their mid-race pit stops. This came to the displeasure of his team mate, who lost the lead after Vettel was able to pit before him.

Lewis Hamilton, who started alongside Leclerc on the front row of the grid, finish fourth after running a long opening stint in a bid to split the Ferraris. That allowed Max Verstappen to take third, though he ended the race with the Mercedes driver filling his mirrors.

Mercedes took care to ensure the undercut did not help Valtteri Bottas get ahead of Hamilton. Bottas was told to back off by over three-and-a-half seconds at one point to ensure Hamilton came out ahead.

Hamilton wasn’t able to do anything about the cars ahead, partly because the second half of the race was disrupted by three Safety Car periods for a series of incidents. George Russell went out in a collision with Romain Grojsean, Sergio Perez stopped with a technical problem, and Kimi Raikkonen suffered race-ending damage in a collision with Daniil Kvyat.

Alexander Albon brought his Red Bull home in sixth ahead of Lando Norris. Pierre Gasly took eighth after a superb pass on Lance Stroll following one of the restarts.

Nico Hulkenberg recovered from first-lap contact with Carlos Sainz Jnr to take ninth and Antonio Giovinazzi took the final point after briefly leading at one stage.

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2019 Singapore Grand Prix reaction

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on “Ferrari strategy helps Vettel to first win in over a year”

  1. Safety car might have helped Ferrari here. But Mercedes strategy is a disappointment. They said they would go aggressive, but they went ultra conservative. I do wonder if Ferrari did this deliberately to Leclerc for what he did at Monza. It seems like they want the 1-2 instead of one driver winning.

    1. I just think, merc thought they had more in the soft and that Ferrari were going to fall spart on the hards. Mefc even called for Bottas to get out of the way.

    2. I think from a team’s perspective, a 1-2 is more important. I do feel for Charles though but at the same time I’m happy for Vettel too.

    3. You think Ferrari thought that deeply about it? I just think everyone was surprised by Vettles out lap. If everyone knew it would have been that fast, Hamilton would have gone first

    4. @krichelle I thought Mercedes’ strategy was very aggressive today. They told their faster driver BOT to slow down in order to get their slower driver HAM in front for whatever reason. Very aggressive approach, which obviously didn’t pay off.

      1. @huhhii

        What makes you say HAM was the slower driver today? Before the pit stops HAM seemed to have more pace and after the pit stops seemed to me that at the very least they were on even pace but because they weren’t running in clean air they were just managing the tyres. Then close to the end HAM was putting pressure on Max with Bottas falling behind?

        1. @blazzz Everybody up front were driving really slowly during the 1st stint. I don’t think Hamilton was faster than Bottas. They all were just saving tires.

          After Bottas pitted he did some great out-laps. Had fastest lap of the race etc. And once Hamilton pitted Bottas easily stayed within DRS for a very long time. I guess Bottas was told the order will stay between the two Mercedes drivers, so he backed off to save engine. That explains why he suddenly dropped so far away from Hamilton.

          I’m absolutely sure Bottas had more pace today than Hamilton.

          1. Vettel said Ham was the fastest out there today; but what does he know.

          2. I’m absolutely sure Bottas had more pace today than Hamilton

            They were all in each other’s DRS range for long periods, such was the slow pace of this race.

            Had fastest lap of the race etc

            BOT did that fastest lap close to the end when IIRC he was already 3+ seconds behind

            I’m absolutely sure Bottas had more pace today than Hamilton.

            Well you are entitled to your view but I didn’t see anything that was so clear cut to suggest that.

          3. @riptide Bottas in fact did several fastest laps. One of them on his new tires just before Lewis pitted.
            So he was the faster driver at that moment. It was a humiliating action by James V.
            There are more cracks in the Merc palace recent.

          4. @huhhii your usual Finnish tinted delusion, Bottas said himself drivers who benefit from strategy arent allowed to keep the place, he was nowhere near Hamilton all weekend.

  2. I think one thing’s for certain is that the Ferrari mechanics need radio mic’s when they sang Il Canto degli Italiani

  3. It was a terrible strategy call for Mercedes. But I felt sorry for Leclerc he didn’t deserve that, but if Ferrari have two confident drivers then the team will be in better shape.

    Hamilton extends his lead by a point. Will he win another race for the remainder of the year?

    1. He didn’t deserve what? Giving away P1 (to Mercedes) when everything is OK is a mistake that costed Ferrari in the past. VET had nothing to lose being 3rd, the tyres worked very well for them this time = VET to get in P1. This move pretty sure guaranteed the 1-2 too.

      1. He didn’t deserve to be second considering he got pole on a track that is difficult to overtake on. Vettel tried getting past Hamilton and couldn’t do it. You’re probably right about the 1-2 for Ferrari, its just a shame that Leclerc had to take second.

  4. Vettel pitted at the perfect lap. A big strategic mistake by the Mercedes team. Maybe they felt Lewis could overtake them later in the race with fresher tyres but overtaking is almost impossible here. Track position is everything.

    1. This is a team that heavy relies on data. They can definitely see that the undercut was worth at least 2 seconds plus the driver driving in the car. It is a disappointment. We would never know though as 3 safety cars stopped this race.

      1. You have to consider that the one who pits first is exposed to a safety car period (highly probable in this circuit) and losing several places because of that, plus track position is everything on a street circuit. You can’t risk your leading driver so VET took the gamble. And fortunately for him, it paid off.

      2. Yes those 3 safety cars one after the other killed all hopes of Mercedes. They were hoping Ferrari will run into trouble with tyre life. It was a big mistake to not pit Lewis at least before one Ferrari. Had he pitted at the same time as Vettel he would have won this race instead of P4 because he was ahead of Vettel that time.

      3. From my pov these last 2 races Mercedes chases the win no matter what using alternative subpar strategies. The price they payed for so far as a team is Hamilton 1 place last race and 2 places this race.

        What is particularly weird is that today was a typical Singapore GP with field somewhat bunched up at the start and safety cars appearing on the 2nd half and they managed to do maybe the worst strategy calls possible for both drivers. Speaking for people running all kinds of simulations and scenarios well… it felt kinda cheap.

    2. Gutted for Leclerc, completely screwed over.

      Completely baffled by those trying to run the narrative that this was some sort of masterclass by Vettel, when he was simply given the first pit opportunity usually afforded to the teams lead driver.

      4 time WDC on the edge of a ban relies on his team to massively favour him to take his first win in over a year. How the mighty have fallen.

      1. Mighty rookie who does not stick to the team…remember monza tow? Belgium? Binotto said it clear…they pitted because Red Bull were pitting Verstapen… they covered Verstapen and try to undercut Hamilton… what the team did not know was the lap that vettel did…they understimated the out lap… same as mercedes…they told Bottas to slow down… stop the narrative…this package balanced the car in the rear… suits a little more Vettel driving style, whats funny…Leclerc could not get close even with powermods + (plus) they gave him… so…lets stop the narrative about Vettel won cause the team did this and that… I did not see on this site…” Leclercs on Pole in Monza for not towing Vettel” … true journalism click bait ….

      2. The thing is that if LEC pit first, HAM would have stayed out waiting for the SC, and VET too covering HAM. Then they would overcut LEC in case of a SC and everybody would be saying the same.

      3. He got the same treatment Bottas got. Vettels strategy was intended to get an overcut on Lewis. They succeeded but LEC was not able to speed up enough to keep in the lead.

  5. Shocking incompetence by Mercedes’ Pitwall crew not to realize that over-cut will not work.

    Hats off to Ferrari, well played!

    P.S. Can we somehow get rid of Pirelli? Please? Pretty please?

    1. Merc aimed to match the Safety, not the overcut

      1. Then they should have called Nelson Piquet Jr…

  6. Don’t think there’s a huge amount to say after that race. I think it puts into focus the need for the new rules in 2021, but think it also shows the track choices are also half the problem as well.

    It’s good that Ferrari are showing their pre-season form again, shame it has come a bit too late to make the championship interesting. At least, we could be in for a bit of a heated Leclerc-Vettel relationship now, seems all the top teams drivers’ have been getting on too well recently!

    At least it’s Russia next, we’ll get to see loads of overtaking there….

  7. Ferrari clearly favoured VET over LEC at the beginning of the season but I don’t think this race was the case. In hindsight it looks like, but Ferrari were trying to undercut HAM and in the meantime distract him from fighting LEC given that track position is everything on a street circuit. However, LEC was not that far from the pack (in my opinion this is the main cause why LEC lost the race), plus the superb lap from VET out of pits, it was enough to put VET on the lead. Fair play to me.

    1. The thing is, Leclerc wasn’t far from the pack because his strategy was to go slow in order to negate their disadvantage in tyre life @naylamp, so him then losing to Vettel might be a strategy, but not one that was clearly meant to let Leclerc win.

      1. @bosyber, there were radio transmissions from Ferrari to Leclerc confirming that he was driving to the target times that the team were telling Leclerc to go for, as their strategy was very much to make sure that the other drivers could not undercut them by making sure they’d be stuck behind the midfield pack if they pitted earlier than they did.

        It is true that Leclerc was never that far from the pack as a result, but that was because that is the strategy wanted him to run – one that might have been designed to protect themselves, but one that did also create the possibility that Vettel could undercut Leclerc.

        Speaking of that strategy, it seems that part of the reason why Leclerc felt aggrieved is that Ferrari do not seem to have told Leclerc that Vettel was pitting – it seems that Leclerc was kept in the dark about Vettel’s strategy until he made his own pit stop. It’s may be that it is not just about Vettel getting ahead, but the fact that he felt the team was doing so behind his back that has irked Leclerc so much there.

  8. Gutted to see Hulkenberg getting away after destroying Sainz’s race, but it’s a typical first lap incident. Fortunately Norris keeping 7th best of the rest and increase McLaren’s advantage over Renault by 4 points.

    It’s been quite a scruffy race overall, and we’re yet to know what Kvyat will have after ramming into Raikkonen.

  9. Mind you, Keith – but the headline is comparable to a headline like: “The Gregorian Calendar Helped a Man to His Next Birthday”.

  10. It was more then logical strategy call from Ferrari. By pitting VET they pushed HAM to focus on reply call instead of LEC. Then it was just too late and they had nothing in their hands but to gamble on tyres life cycle. Yes, 3 safety cars played well for Ferrari but in my opinion would not change anything. Major question here for me is where the hell Ferrari found that race pace??

  11. disgusting headline, why is it good for you?

  12. Vettel won yet somehow i don’t think this changes his situation one bit. It may even worsen it as it makes it feels like he needs help to beat Leclerc.
    He was overall slower, was behind and got the lead by accident.

    And leading a race in a track like this with a fast enough car and no pit stops till the end is nothing special at all.

    1. slower? what did you watch? i think not this race

      1. Oh yeah, he started on pole and was leading the race on merit since lap one, right?

        1. No, but he took, what, over 2 seconds from Leclerc on his outlap? He also cut through the field much faster than Leclerc did after their pit stop and he sailed away comfortably on each safety car restart. By no means was Vettel slower than Leclerc today.

          I’m guessing you didn’t mention Leclerc needing Vettel’s help to win a month ago in Spa by holding Hamilton as long as he could (even when that meant leaving him with a strategic disadvantage), am I right?

          1. Who is talking about Spa here?

  13. Sad time in VET career: needs team help to beat LEC.

  14. Lol doesn’t every team strategy help them win ? Why hate on Vettel ?

  15. It is very fun to read the comments of the British press, including the “independent” after the phenomenal 1-2 of Ferrari in Singapore.
    They permanently demonstrate their absolute bias in the processing of information.
    It seems that they have not learned that the internet now exists and fans no longer depend on their interested opinions to have an overview of what happens in Formula 1 races.

  16. Actually it seems Ferrari may just have reacted to Red Bull call to pit Verstappen and seconds after they told Vettel to box at the very last minute to cover a possible undercut.

    1. Of course we won’t mention it here.

  17. Another race spoiled by too many safety car laps. We were headed for a good final laps, with the drivers in front on older tires than the drivers bellow, then in the last 25 laps we have a lot of toilet breaks that set the pack all together, leaving everyone with DRS and allowing the tyres to hold on till the end.

    I really, really dislike this safety car approach. I understand the safety reasons, but in football the game does not reset to 0-0 every time the medical team enters the field.
    I know the rules are the same, but 25 years ago the SC was deployed once a season, today was three times in half the race.

  18. Some tracks should have 2 stops mandatory if the pitlane is excessively long, this is one of them.

    This race was a farce at times.

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