The stars aligned for Sergio Perez at the 2022 Singapore GP. At 11:11:11, Car #11 crossed the line to win the Singapore GP underneath the floodlights. Sergio Perez was truly meant to take this victory.
The 2022 Singapore GP was an indisputably special race. The racing cars last roared down the Marina Bay Street Circuit in 2019 before Formula 1 returned to the floodlit streets this year. There were a multitude of reasons why the 2022 Singapore GP was going to be a fan-favorite.
First of all, there was a pattern of both qualifying and the race being uniquely exciting, which is not very common in F1. Second of all, it was Sebastian Vettel’s final Singapore GP. And lastly, it was a race where Max Verstappen had the slim chance of winning the World Drivers’ Championship. You can read about these in depth in our post published before the Singapore GP.
The Singapore GP well and truly delivered. F1’s return to the nation was special. The weather was unpredictable and difficult to handle. Qualifying was incredibly close. Only 0.054 seconds separated the Top 3! On top of that, Red Bull and Verstappen made shocking mistakes and let pole position slip through their fingers. And then came race day. The race was actually delayed by an hour thanks to the -2torrential conditions. When the 5 lights finally did go out, the 2-hour grind began. The action was plentiful. Ruthless on-track battles, mistakes, crashes, and shocking moments are what fans got to experience.
So, Sergio Perez finished in 1st place, ahead of Charles Leclerc. Carlos Sainz finished in 3rd; the Top 2 were in another league, as Sainz struggled with a lack of confidence, and a lack of rear grip. Behind him was Lando Norris who came home to finish in a fantastic 4th place. Behind Norris was his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who really performed well in Singapore. In P7 was Stroll, followed by Verstappen, Vettel and Hamilton, with Gasly completing the Top 10.
In this race review, we’re going to analyze all the slipping and sliding that the F1 drivers experience. InAs a matter of fact, it led to a monstrous SIX retirements!! The last time we saw so many retirements was at the 2022 British GP! Next, we’ll analyze Sergio Perez’s fantastic win. The Tire Whisperer has started to show his mastery of street circuits. After that, we will analyze how Ferrari were off the pace, and how it was a VERY tough pill to swallow for Mercedes. And lastly, we’re going to appreciate the valiant performances we saw from some drivers, including Sebastian Vettel.
Slip ‘N Slide! – 2022 Singapore GP Edition
Slipping and sliding is precisely what a lot of the drivers did out there. As I mentioned earlier, the race was delayed by an hour because of the weather. And when the racing did eventually get underway, it’s safe to say that the conditions were really difficult to handle for the drivers. The Singapore GP is notoriously tough for the drivers already.
It’s usually around 2 hours long already, which is long for an F1 race. And for those 2 hours, the drivers must keep their senses sharp. They have to push to the limits, but not an inch beyond, or they’ll end up in the walls. And then there’s the unique heat and humidity. Overall, it’s a grueling experience. And then in 2022, the drivers had to do all of this in the rain. Post-race, we could see the drivers drinking loads of water. They were clearly drained after a race that required a huge amount of effort.
In fact, the race didn’t even on for the full 61 laps. The cars were going slower in the rain, and on top of that, there were a range of on-track incidents. That resulted in it being impossible to complete the full race distance in the 2-hour time limit for the race. So the race ran for 2 full hours, plus 1 lap. The drivers completed 59 instead of the full 61 laps. And those 59 laps were incredibly eventful.
When the race started, the track was wet, and the drivers were on inters. Grip was limited, and the drivers had to take paramount caution. There was no real element of strategy, because all of the teams wanted to keep their drivers out and pit them only if the track was dry enough for slick tires. Normally, when all the drivers are running wet-weather tires, the track dries up fairly quickly.
The tires expel water when they make contact with the track, clearing out a specific “dry line” for the drivers to race on. However, in Singapore, it took a lot longer for a dry line to form that was dry enough for slick tires. In fact, in some places, the dry line barely appeared at all! That’s because the sun wasn’t there to dry the water, and there was humidity, which left the drivers on the intermediate tires for exceptionally long.
And during that approximately 30-lap stint on the inters, we saw 5 retirements! And over the course of the race we had five Safety Cars! Only one retirement took place with a driver on the dry tires. That retirement was when Yuki Tsunoda crashed out on his 2nd lap on the dry tires, so even that can be attributed to a slippery track. It was one of the many times we saw drivers just locking up and understeering straight into the wall. Albon spun on the first lap, and understeered into a wall a few laps later. Albon had to retire from the race after that. Hamilton understeered into the wall on Lap 33. And then, 2 laps later, Tsunoda fell victim as well.
The first retirement of the race was quite early in the race. On Lap 7, Zhou Guanyu retired from the race after crashing at the entry to Turn 5. Was it the wet track? No, it was even worse. It was the GOAT, Nicholas Latifi. He was defending from Zhou and he slammed the door shut, and slammed Zhou into the wall. Latifi retired from the race too, on the following lap. That caused the first Safety Car of the day. On Lap 20, after relentlessly defending from the reigning World Champion, Fernando Alonso’s performance went in vain thanks to an engine failure. In fact, Alonso’s teammate also retired due to an engine issue. What a disaster for Alpine!
When the drivers did eventually switch to slick tires, they did have more stability. However, they didn’t stop making slip-ups. Overtaking is hard enough at Singapore, but it had now become painfully difficult. That’s because to overtake, a driver would usually have to go off the dry line. That resulted in a sudden loss of grip, which is why we saw drivers going off and locking up. The most memorable examples are when Max Verstappen had a massive lockup when trying to overtake Norris, and when Hamilton went off-track while trying to overtake Sebastian Vettel towards the end of the race.
Overall, the treacherous conditions made it an exceptionally tough race for the drivers. For the fans, it provided non-stop action!
Another Tremendous Triumph For Checo At A Street Circuit
Sergio Perez enjoyed the sweet taste of success after winning the 2022 Singapore GP. The Tire Whisperer ruled the Singaporean streets. This had led to many F1 fans, including me, starting to believe that Checo has a knack for street circuits. He won the 2022 Monaco GP, which was also in wet weather. He finished 2nd in the 2022 Azerbaijan GP and the 2022 Australian GP. Last year, his one and only race win as the 2021 Azerbaijan GP. These are all strong results at street circuits, with the 2022 Singapore GP reinforcing the pattern.
Perez established his grip on the winner’s trophy right at the very start. Leclerc got a strong initial launch – however, in the 2nd phase of the start, Perez pulled ahead of Leclerc. The Monegasque faced wheelsman that allowed Perez to fully pull ahead into Turn 1. Looking at the start, I can see that the drivers on the left side of the track got better starts overall. Perez was on the left side. So were Norris and Sainz. All 3 of these drivers overtook the drivers who were ahead of them on the right side of the track.
After that, Perez was consistently better than Leclerc. On the intermediate tires, Perez was able to maintain a gap of at the very least 1 second. Leclerc didn’t do terribly either, and was almost always within 5 seconds of Perez. Then, on the stint on the dry tires, Perez’s lead was in jeopardy. He had created a gap during the pit window, because Ferrari pitted Leclerc a lap earlier. While Perez’s inters were old, and Leclerc was on fresh dry tires, warming up those tires was a nightmare. Perez’s tires were nice and warm, so when he pitted, he came out of the pits a good few seconds ahead of Leclerc.
However, around 5 laps later, Leclerc got incredibly close to Perez. He was well within a second, and was using DRS to push Perez every lap. Leclerc was clearly strong in the third sector of the laps. However, he struggled with traction sometimes, especially on the exit of Turn 3, which left him unable to overtake Perez. The Red Bull driver kept his cool and made sure to keep a few car lengths’ distance to Leclerc.
Leclerc did get very close, but he was wise enough to know that making a lunge down into Turn 1 or Turn 7 wouldn’t do him any good. Leclerc simply wasn’t fast enough. To overtake Perez, he would have to be exceptionally fast, the same way Verstappen was when battling with the midfield cars. And unfortunately for Ferrari, that wasn’t the case for Leclerc.
After getting oh-so-close to losing the lead, Perez suddenly pulled away. He started gaining a couple of tenths a lap on Leclerc. Then Red Bull found out about the possibility of Perez getting a penalty for, at one point, being more than 10 car lengths behind the Safety Car. The FIA said they would investigate after the race – an unpopular decision no doubt, because it left fans waiting as to whether Perez would still win the race even if he won on track.
The fans, the commentators, and I’m sure Sergio Perez, all knew that a 5-second time penalty was very much a possibility. Then Perez did more than what he needed to do. He needed a 5-second gap. Checo started really pushing, and in the last 10 laps of the race, he increased the gap from 1.4 seconds to 7.5 seconds. Simply incredible.
Post-race, the stewards did penalize Perez. However, it was a 5-second penalty, which meant he still won the race. It was a well-deserved victory; Perez stayed in control of the race throughout. He was consistent, and unlike his World Champion teammate, he didn’t make mistakes.
Vettel’s Valiant Performance One Of Multiple Showstoppers
While some had painfully bad performances, (such as Alpine and Mercedes), there were some particularly strong performances at the 2022 Singapore GP. I want to end this post on a positive note, and look at the successes of the Aston Martin and McLaren drivers. Let’s observe Sebastian Vettel’s fantastic race. Given that he’s retiring at the end of 2022, this race was a very special one for him. Vettel is known for being the most successful driver in the history of the Singapore GP. #5 has clinched 5 wins in Singapore, giving him the nickname of the “Lion of Singapore”.
The Lion’s Last Roar at Singapore was a memorable one, as we saw a comeback from P13 to P8. Vettel started the race in P13, with his teammate starting P11. The Aston Martins had the pace to qualify in the Top 10, but the team put them on the slick tires in Q2. That gamble proved to be costly, as the track was still a bit too wet for slick tires.
On race day, however, the Astons made up for their shortcomings in qualifying. Sebastian Vettel was flying at the start of the race. He displayed his mastery of the wet conditions when he overtook 4 cars into Turn 1, and then overtook Tsunoda around the outside of Turn 5. Spectacular.
Since Verstappen fell back on the opening lap, Stroll and Tsunoda also gained 1 position. However, on the 2nd lap, Verstappen re-overtook Magnussen, Stroll and Tsunoda. Overtaking Vettel, however, took Verstappen 7 laps! Verstappen had to catch up to and overtake Vettel, which took him quite a bit of time. From there, Vettel led a consistent race. He was in P9, which then became P8 once Alonso retired. Pierre Gasly lost a few positions, which gave P7 to Vettel. Then Stroll, who’s Vettel’s teammate, used the overcut to gain one position. Vettel went down to P8, which became P7 thanks to Verstappen going off at Turn 7.
Vettel was on his way to a solid P7 finish. However, in the final laps of the race, Vettel was left with a big task on his hands. He had to defend from 2 top cars. Both Hamilton and Verstappen were trying to make comebacks after falling down the order thanks to costly mistakes. For both of them, the next midfield car to overtake was Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel stood his ground for a few laps. Hamilton was directly behind him, with Verstappen behind the Mercedes. Hamilton started breathing down Vettel’s neck, getting closer and closer every lap. But on Lap 56, with only a few minutes left in the race, Hamilton slid towards the wall in an attempt to overtake Vettel. Vettel stayed in control until Hamilton got too impatient and made a mistake. However, that unleashed Verstappen.
Vettel did the same for Verstappen, and defended diligently. Unfortunately, Verstappen managed to overtake Vettel into Turn 7 on the final lap of the race. But still, a P8 finish after a fantastic performance is a win for Vettel in my books. Stroll finished P6, which is a strong performance from him, and a great result for the Aston Martin team.
And now, onto the McLarens’ performances. Daniel Ricciardo in particular did a fantastic job. Qualifying was very disappointing – Ricciardo only qualified in P17, which was a P16 start thanks to Russell’s engine penalties. Ricciardo got a strong start and gained 3 positions. He then gained positions thanks to other drivers retiring or making mistakes. But that only landed him in P10. What catapulted him to the Top 6 was a very late pitstop and some strong lap times – he maximized his stint on the inters, which allowed him to get an overcut and gain positions. He then went on the softs for the rest of the race. Ricciardo also battled with Verstappen, with Verstappen’s mistake allowing him to secure P6.
Ricciardo’s teammate was consistently fast, and also capitalized on a late pitstop to gain time. In fact, it was Norris who Verstappen was trying to overtake when he went off track and lost positions. Overall, there were some fantastic performances at the 2022 Singapore GP that were part of why it was such an exciting race.
The championship battle progresses to the Japanese Grand Prix, as Leclerc and Ferrari live to fight another day. The 2022 Japanese GP will also be greatly important, as just like in Singapore, F1 will return to the nation for the first time since 2019.