Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019

2019 Singapore Grand Prix Star Performers

2019 Singapore Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Kevin Magnussen were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Charles Leclerc

There was nothing more Leclerc could have done to win his third consecutive race. He bounced back from a gearbox problem on Friday to lead the final practice session, signalling his intention for qualifying. Even so, it was a surprise to see him stick the SF-90 on pole in Singapore of all places. His first run in Q3 was hampered by a poor out-lap, but a spectacular final effort secured his fifth pole of the season.

In the race he ran Ferrari’s strategy as he was instructed to, only for Sebastian Vettel to jump ahead of him because Ferrari gave his team mate the benefit of the undercut. If they’d told Leclerc his team mate was pitting, he might have found the few tenths he needed to stay ahead.

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly has been badly in need of a result since returning to Toro Rosso and he bagged one in Singapore. The Safety Car period helped him, but his cracking pass on Lance Stroll was a highlight of the race.

Kevin Magnussen

Haas continue to struggle with their VF-19 but Kevin Magnussen’s perseverance with the car nearly yielded a point in Singapore. Unfortunately for him a plastic bag became attached to his front wing, costing him at least two seconds per laps, forcing him to make an extra pit stop, and ending his hopes of a point.

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George Russell

George Russell, Williams, Singapore, 2019
Russell’s weekend ended in the wall
As expected, Singapore was a better track for Williams, but for perhaps the first time this year George Russell appeared to be trying to force the pace from his car, even if he did out-qualify Robert Kubica again. He picked up damage on the first lap, then went out in a collision with Romain Grosjean in why both could have left each other more room.

Kimi Raikkonen

The Kimi Raikkonen-Alfa Romeo combination has been an effective one for much of the season but things didn’t seem to click in Singapore. After qualifying, where he was beaten by his team mate, Raikkonen admitted he lacked confidence in the car. His race ended when he failed to spot Daniil Kvyat’s attempt to pass him, and turned in on the Toro Rosso.

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And the rest

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019
Vettel had one of his better weekends
Sebastian Vettel had one of his better weekends for a while, though he was outpaced by his team mate in qualifying again, and an impatient move on Gasly nearly lost him the lead he inherited.

If anyone had more cause to be frustrated with their team than Leclerc it was Valtteri Bottas, who was compromised by Lewis Hamilton on his final Q3 out-lap, and was told to cut his pace at one point to prevent Alexander Albon from jumping ahead of his team mate. Hamilton’s efforts were wrecked by Mercedes being tactically outmanouevres by Ferrari.

The gap between Leclerc’s deliberately slow pace at the front of the field and the lap times drivers could manage on fresh tyres that Max Verstappen was able to ‘undercut’ Hamilton as well as Vettel. That helped him finish ahead of both Mercedes drivers, having out-qualified Verstappen. Albon followed the silver cars home.

Lando Norris showed a great turn of pace in Q2 but couldn’t replicate it in Q3, to his frustration. However he bagged a ‘best of the rest’ win after Daniel Ricciardo picked up a penalty, and Carlos Sainz Jnr and Nico Hulkenberg collided on the first lap. The latter did well from there to pick up points, but was perhaps fortunate the stewards deemed the contact a racing incident.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo, Singapore, 2019
Giovinazzi briefly headed the field
Remarkably, Antonio Giovinazzi led four laps of the race, the first of his career and the first for anyone not in a Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes for over four years. No disrespect to him, but this was more a consequence of the extremely slow pace Ferrari dictated at the head of the field than the quality of his drive. He did, however, out-qualify Kimi Raikkonen and bag another point.

Grosjean missed out on the points after making another change to his Haas’s specification during practice. He reverted to more of the team’s old-specifications part at a track where he expected the VF-19 to perform better in its original configuration, but Magnussen got more out of the car in qualifying.

Both Racing Point drivers made moves on Kvyat early on but Sergio Perez suffered another technical failure and Lance Stroll picked up damage so the team left Singapore point-less. Kvyat slipped back to 15th, with only the unlucky Magnussen and Robert Kubica behind him.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

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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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53 comments on “2019 Singapore Grand Prix Star Performers”

  1. no vettel, of course. i’m finished with your site keith, you can do it better. your bias is painful

    1. It is a bit annoying. Vettel deserves it simply for the way he tore through the traffic when he needed to.

    2. If someone was that against Vettel, they likely wouldn’t have rated them as the best driver one year, which wsa the case in 2015. I think Vettel should be a star performer here and i thought his overtake on Gasly was fine, but no need to be this unreasonable about someone’s opinion.

      1. the tipping point was the “used his car as a weapon”

        1. @johnmilk Damon Hill agrees with that.
          Anyone who has been on this site long enough knows, vettel is not much loved. Getting a driver of the year is remarkable considering vettels record.
          Vettel is a sebastian, he is annoying.
          Often the whole press goes a bit far to payback on all the pain sebastian gave us over the 2010-2013 period. Sometimes pure hatred comes out.
          Personally, I’m more upset with the hypocrisy on vettel than vettel, and bias on others. I don’t like him either.
          This article though is no reason for this rant imo no star performer.

          1. @peartree Vettel isn’t exactly a star after that qualy lap, albeit the outlap is outstanding, he gains more than 3s

            however, Leclerc, Gasly and Keving are stars as well. And Kimi and Russel as strugglers when they were taken out of the race is even more surprising for me

            If it was me

            Stars: Norris, poor qualifying but made it up on Sunday. Max, took the best out of the machinery he had

            Strugglers: Grosjean, very poor all weekend, especially after he gets his contract for 2020 he shows exactly the reasons why he shouldn’t be on the grid. Bottas (harsh perhaps), fighting for the championship and has no pace compared to his team-mate and in the off chance of getting ahead of him he eats that team order like it’s nothing?

          2. @johnmilk it baffles me how being divebombed into worse than by intothebarrier counts as Kimi’s mistake

          3. @mrboerns can you imagine a court case

            Sir you are being accused of attempting murderer, because you failed to move away from the bullet’s path

    3. In this case, why would vettel be a star performer? when someone is unfair and wrong, most don’t care, lets get into the bandwagon and have gratuitous fun.
      when there’s a well rounded assesement you disagree? He was okay in fp, beaten to pole, took a big risk with gasly, had good enough pace. Nothing out of the ordinary.

      What I don’t understand is why hulkenberg is lucky to have escaped a penalty…sainz jr played no part on the racing incident.
      Russel mistimed his q3 run, hardly a struggler.
      Kvyat had reliability cut his running in fp, had a good strategy for the race, ran mostly trouble free but was absolutely outpaced, even with a tyre offset. Kvyat clearly a struggler.

  2. oh, and you’re manipulating against vettel – again and always.

    “If they’d told Leclerc his team mate was pitting, he might have found the few tenths he needed to stay ahead.”

    you have the quote, but you deliberately don’t use it: Leclerc stressed that it was unlikely he would have been able to react with a faster in-lap had Ferrari predicted he would be racing his teammate for the lead. “At that time obviously the tyres were quite dead.”


    1. Keith has his own preferences, prerequisites and opinion, like us. Regular lurkers and subscribers could spot that a long time ago. This site is not ‘professional’. It’s his own website.

  3. I also would like to add that Leclerc even though did a stellar job in the first part of the grand prix, wasn’t able to close the gap to Vettel and make a single attempt at trying to take the lead back in the closing stages. Despite the fact that Ferrari allowed him to have an extra engine mode.

    1. As he said on the radio, he wasn’t going to do anything stupid but just deliver the 1-2. Trying to pass a car that is as fast as yours on a street track is too dangerous. None of the class A cars made any attempt to pass each other all race long.

      1. Don’t do anything stupid is saying, i won’t push him into the wall or force an error on him, he asked for everything to overtake Vettel, he got it and he failed at it, he didn’t put a foot wrong the whole weekend, but at the end of the race Vettel was just faster

        1. …but at the end of the race Vettel was just faster

          following another car in Singapore is probably harder than on any other track due to its all-barrier nature, so the airflow bounces back from the walls and creates even greater wake turbulence for the car behind. So when they finally went full throttle, Leclerc needed to be 2 seconds faster per lap to mount a challenge. I’d say that is an impossible delta on similarly aged tires, against a 4 time WDC. Saying that “Vettel was just faster” only because Seb was able to stay ahead in clean air is pretty generous imo.

          1. Well he cleared traffic much faster and pulled a gap of over 5 seconds on leclerc before the safety car. That looked faster to me. Maybe not by much and not enough to overtake if he was behind, but Vettel’s pace did noticeably look better IMO.

          2. They were much faster than the cars ahead.
            If vettel cleared stroll, leclerc has to wait a few turns to get to somewhere he could overtake.

            This was enough for vettel to build a considerable gap of more than 2 seconds.

            This vettel was faster through traffic stuff is overestimated.

  4. A list of this sort is subjective, but Vettel had a good race, why so biased against Vettel?

  5. I know Giovinazzi leading the race was a bit of happenstance, but I don’t think anyone should take anything away from his drive. He was very good all weekend. His form is starting to move in the right direction at last.

  6. Keith’s anti Raikkonen bias has turned into a farce by now. Amusing but also pathetic.

    1. Ranked 6th in his mid-season driver rankings. I don’t see any bias against him, he just didn’t have a very good race. It might be a little harsh to penalise him for not avoiding Kvyat, but that is subjective based on how you view that incident.

      1. Also, Raikkonen qualified and finished behind his team mate and never looked to be in the hunt for points.

        He wasn’t exactly worthy of a mention this weekend.

    2. @keithedin @geemac In Monza he was also a struggler despite out qualifying his teammate and having a strong pace only missing out on points because of his team’s mistake. drivers who had much worse weekends were not struggles yet KR was

      I can bring many examples like that. the point is the moment Keith has half a chance to criticize Raikkonen he does, while praising him only when he has no choice.

      I’m not saying KR was a contender for a Star. but there were people with worse weekends like Grosjean or Kvyat or Bottas etc. That’s the very definition of a bias

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything biased on this website, it is always fair and down the middle of the road.

        I accept that it can be hard for us fans to accept perceived criticism of our favorite teams and drivers. Trust me, as a fan of Williams and Valtteri Bottas, I read plenty of things that make me want to go into full keyboard warrior rant mode. But our job as fans is to try remember that when journalists put out pieces like this, they are providing their opinions and offering up a platform for fans to discuss the race and the events that unfolded over the weekend. We all have different opinions and we are all welcome to discuss them, but accusing the authors of bias is not on.

      2. @geemac I agree with you on most points. But not on the last one. Author’s opinion can be criticized as much as any other. I am a fan not a fanboy. my favorite drivers are not beyond criticism and I had been very critical of KR for example many times. However as a fan of KR if I see a bias against him that goes beyond simple valid criticism I will say so. And my opinion is that Keith is biased against him. To be certain he’s not the only journo that’s biased against him it’s fashionable among F1 journalists. You might disagree, your choice and I respect your opinion

  7. Leclerc outpaced Vettel all weekend and delivered when it mattered most, the final lap in Q3. Vettel benefitted from a fortunate (or planned?) strategy call.

    Vettel got the result but Leclerc (again) was the better driver. Keith has it spot on.

    1. leclerc was slower on friday, and was slower on sunday (see laptime charts). btw did you know that sunday is the day that only counts? and on sunday vettel was very strong, this is a fact. (for the record: on saturday vettel tried to do his second q3 lap too early, track was better for everybody behind him. he also mentioned it after the quali)

    2. Nope. Leclerc was faster… on Saturday alone. You can say only Saturday counts though. Ask Keith about it.

      1. Vettel got track position because of a better strategy. In Singapore, if you have track position, you’re going to win the race, simple as that.

        You guys are talking like Vettel got track position because he was faster and won because he was faster. And that’s not true.

  8. Think this is a bit harsh on Russell, to be honest. The front wing damage on the first lap looked to be a consqeuence of him being caught in a sandwich between Kubica (I think) and Ricciardo, rather than him forcing the issue, and I’d put a lot more blame on Grosjean for their accident.

    I also think there’s a case to be made for Giovinazzi being a star performer. Outqualified and outraced Kimi pretty comfortably, was hampered by his teams extremely poor strategy, yet still came up with a point scoring finish.

  9. How is Leclerc here and Vettel not, atleast put Ferrari as a team here, Vettel got the undercut to defend from Verstappen, who was clearly going into the pits, that’s why it was a late call, they expected to be close with Hamilton, but the outlap of Vettel was more a qualifying lap, he was 4.2 seconds faster than leclerc, who even got a faster pitstop, and yes Leclerc didn’t put a foot wrong this weekend, but so did Vettel.

    Leclerc started to push and for some reason his tyres were destroyed, if he preserved his tyres it might have been possible, his tyre management is still worse than his teammate or Hamilton in my opinion, it seems like people forget about how ruined his tyres were. After they cleared the traffic he set fastest lap after fastest lap, using up tyre life, while Vettel 6 seconds ahead was saving them, and after the last 10 laps he had more left and went 2.6 seconds ahead. Same happened in hungary were Vettel also saved his tyres more and could overtake him at the end.

    I also am quite annoyed that your recent articles are a bit against Vettel, and i don’t see why, he won square and fair, atleast it hasn’t been like the articles Andrew Benson has been putting out for BBC. It also seems you have forgot that Vettel aborted his second lap because of error, but it also means he couldn’t show his fastest lap, i thought you would think better than that

  10. the outlap of Vettel was more a qualifying lap, he was 4.2 seconds faster than leclerc

    @armandf1v As has been reported, Ferrari did not inform Leclerc that they had pitted Vettel. If they had done, Leclerc would likely have picked up the pace, not wanting his own team-mate to undercut him. Of course, the team would not have wanted this as this would also meant Hamilton could pick up his pace and they would risk not undercutting Hamilton at the very least. So 4.2 seconds doesn’t really mean anything as we don’t know how hard Leclerc could have pushed.

    1. Leclerc said his tyres were dead by then
      He’s not as good at taking care of his tyres as Vettel is

  11. First time in a while time that I was simply unable to pick out a single star-performer. Not to say that all 20 drivers were distinctively average or worse, but for me none of them really fit the billing of “star” performer. Whilst I don’t necessarily disagree with the choices in the article, I think some straws have been clutched (out of necessity more than anything else).

  12. Giovinazzi should be a star performer. Not only for leading the race but outqualifying Kimi and scoring a point despite a bad strategy.

    Agree with Kimi being a struggler, but would have put Kvyat and Grosjean in the strugglers over Russel. Both were nowhere in qualifying compared to their team mates, Kvyat went backwards and Grosjean celebrated his contract renewal by putting another driver in the wall

    1. Kvyat only clearly went backwards when he made his attempt on Kimi, and no action was taken on this. It is very likely his car suffered from this a bit.

      And in the incident with Grosjean, again, no action was taken and the stewards said both could have done better.

      I don’t think Kvyat or Grosjean were that bad this race – team mates were just clearly better.

  13. Processional stuff. I guess the stars imho are Norris and Gasly. The others were just around doing what their cars are capable off. Would be good to drop this race from the calendar

  14. I agree with the star performers and strugglers. But I would add Vettel to the stars. He may have had some luck there, but he showed to have better pace than Leclerc. He got through the traffic after he pitted a lot quicker than leclerc and Verstappen. I disagree about Vettel’s move on Gasly. I thought that was good. He then pulled a pretty large on Leclerc and it semed to continue to grow even when Leclerc was directly behind him. Vettel then mannaged several safety car restarts very well indeed and seemed to catch the rest out by surprise. He had luck to get where he did, but to me with the performance he had when he had this luck, he deserved it and did really well. Possibly his best race this year, just with a negative start to the weekend.

  15. Deeply confused why Vettel’s not a star here, and any mention of him made in this article is negative – essentially inferring he didn’t deserve what he achieved? Like the guy’s outlap was excellent, he cut through the traffic better than anyone behind him and controlled the restarts perfect. Doesn’t look like Ferrari thought Vettel was racing Leclerc anyway and didn’t think he could, but that’s the way it went – the dude finally did a good race! I get hating on Vettel seems popular lately but the bias in tone is kinda jarring.

    1. Agreed. The bias is stifling – has been a feature of this site for a couple of years.
      ‘an impatient move on Gasly almost lost him the lead’. If it was Hamilton making the move, the article probably would have read ‘Hamilton scythed his way through to the lead’.
      Not as inherently biased as Crofty though – he is terrible! After the race he said ‘And no embrace from the drivers at all – I didn’t see one, did you?’ just a minute or two after Vettel and Leclerc had clearly embraced!!!!

    2. he cut through the traffic better than anyone behind

      This is the key point for me. Everyone always says how Vettel is a poor wheel-to-wheel racer, but he showed on Sunday that he can get past people quickly and precisely, while Leclerc was stuck behind a Force India for a few laps.

      1. Leclerc went safe-mode in those overtakes and if we consider the quality and circumstances of the cars they were passing I’d give the nod to leclerc, way too much risk taken from vettel (I’d still give him star).

  16. I don’t agree with the claim that both drivers could have left more space in the Russell-Grosjean incident. First of all, Russell didn’t have to. Second, I’ve seen the Russell-Grosjean incident a few times now and I think Russell is right in saying that there was sufficient space on the outside at the moment of collision. There is about half a car’s width of space still left when Grosjean decides that he can’t go left anymore or back off. Here is the image. I don’t understand why the stewards didn’t punish him for this, well I sort of do; they are usually incompetent like this. I also feel like they tend to care much less about incidents occurring at the back of the pack.

  17. If you get taken out by another driver you get to be a struggler? That’s how it works?

  18. Stars: GAS, GIO.
    Strugglers: VER, Mercedes, HUL, MAG, KVY.

    1. Giovinazzi crashed with ricciardo mostly through fault, red bull was the slowest of the top cars and verstappen did what was expectable, qualifying mattered a lot and his 2 laps in q3 were only 0.004 different, magnussen going from start to struggler is harsh, he had a plastic bag that ruined his point scoring chances.

      1. from star*

    2. @jerejj

      Verstappen a struggler?
      Oh wait, it’s from that guy…..
      Pathetic is a nice word to summarize your post.

  19. Sainz was not a star performer, but I would like to highlight his effort to unlap himself and to overtake as many cars as he and his damaged car allowed to. For me, he was the persevering faithful driver of the day

  20. Leclerc was the star of the weekend.
    Vettel was lucky, Hamilton was unlucky.

  21. Vettel should be a star performer because he won the race or because of his performance?
    Hamilton wins races all the time and barely makes into this lists and no one says a thing.

    Vettel was no better than Leclerc. His strategy was better.

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