Sebastian Vettel ends 22-race drought and other talking points from Singapore GP

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Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ended his 22-race drought by beating team-mate Charles Leclerc to clinch victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion, 32, got ahead of Leclerc on lap 20 to take to his first win since the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix in August.

Max Verstappen finished third with Lewis Hamilton crossing the line in fourth.

Here’s a look at the key talking points:

FERRARI DOMINANCE

Ferrari, who have struggled around twisty circuits, had not been the favourites going into the weekend but Leclerc marked them out as contenders after taking pole position on Saturday.

But for all hope of a third straight win for the young Monaco man, it wasn’t meant to be, and he came out on the wrong side of a team strategy call and had to settle for second.

Controlling the race for the first 20 laps, Leclerc was called in second to pit for fresh tyres and Vettel took advantage of his durable hard tyres to jump ahead of his team-mate.

Even though Leclerc pushed hard in his battle against Vettel, the three safety cars late on spoiled any potential change at the top and Leclerc was denied victory.

The 21-year-old will be disappointed with the strategy decision considering he started on pole, but Ferrari aren’t going to mind as the under pressure Vettel received a confidence booster with a first victory since August 2018.

Vettel was in the spotlight after a horror show in Monza, where he spun before collecting Lance Stroll on the way. He finished 13th as Leclerc secured his second straight win.

With the four-time world champion looking confident again, coupled with Leclerc enjoying a sparkling run of form recently, Ferrari’s new upgrades should hopefully threaten Mercedes and make a little bit of a fight of this championship for the six remaining races.

FOURTH FOR HAMILTON

Starting from second on the grid, it was expected that Hamilton would put pressure on Leclerc right from the off, as he bid for his third straight win under the lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

After Leclerc opted to pit on lap 20, Hamilton stayed out for six extra laps as he attempted to build an extra advantage. If he stayed out until lap 28 or was even brought in before Leclerc and Vettel, then he could have been a handed a free victory because of the safety cars.

Fourth place will disappoint Hamilton but the Mercedes struggled for pace all evening and were unable to mount much of a challenge on Max Verstappen and the Ferraris.

Although the 34-year-old would have preferred to leave Singapore with at least a podium finish, Hamilton will be firing for Russia next week, around a track where he has sealed victory on three occasions.

Still, the championship is in no grand danger as Hamilton holds a commanding 65 points lead over his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

RED BULL SOLID

Red Bull came into the weekend as Mercedes’ closest challengers, and Verstappen went on to finish ahead of both Silver Arrow drivers.

The Dutchman is a class act. He headed into the summer break following a series of impressive displays, including wins in Austria and Germany.

He was also within minutes of winning the Hungarian Grand Prix before Hamilton’s impressive late fightback.

In Singapore, Verstappen was expected to be back among the frontrunners, and made advantage of the twisty tracks to finish third – his seventh podium of the season.

His team-mate Alex Albon drove well, maintaining his strong pace and staying out of trouble, finishing in a formidable sixth to record his fifth straight points finish.

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Charles Leclerc shines in Singapore to secure third successive pole position

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Charles Leclerc secured a hat-trick of pole positions to put his Ferrari at the front of grid for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Formula One’s man of the moment continued his dazzling form under the thousands of bulbs that light up the Marina Bay Street Circuit to see off Lewis Hamilton’s late salvo by just 0.191 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel had been on provisional pole, but he was forced to abort his final run and will start from a disappointing third, with Hamilton splitting the Ferraris.

Leclerc will now be the favourite to secure his third consecutive victory with every pole-sitter, bar Vettel two years’ ago, going on to take the chequered flag here.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen lines up from fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Mercedes.

Ferrari’s machinery was not expected to suit this slow-speed venue, but Leclerc’s fine performance provides them with every chance of securing their third win since the summer break.

Hamilton complained about the balance of his car following his first assault on pole and crossed the line one second off the pace. But the world champion delivered an impressive time with his final throw of the dice to be in contention for victory tomorrow.

“I am extremely happy about today,” said Leclerc. “It was a very good lap but there were some moments where I thought I lost the car, but I got it back.

“We came here knowing that it would be a difficult track for us but the team has done an incredible job to bring the package we needed. I had a tough Friday, it was not my day, and I didn’t feel comfortable in the car, but the hard work has paid off.”

Hamilton added: “I don’t know where Ferrari picked up their pace today. Charles put some great laps in and it needed something special in the end.

“It was as much as I could get out of the car but I am happy to be on the front row and in the mix with them so we can divide them. We can be aggressive tomorrow.”

Vettel looked on course to secure his first pole since the Canadian Grand Prix in June, but an underwhelming final lap saw him drop to third, two tenths off the pace of his team-mate.

“I cannot be happy with that last lap,” he said.

Red Bull driver Alex Albon will start from sixth ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz. Lando Norris finished 10th in the sister McLaren.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Lewis Hamilton edges out Max Verstappen to top FP2 at Singapore GP

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Lewis Hamilton edged out Max Verstappen to top second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Verstappen led the way in the opening running at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, but it was Hamilton’s name at the summit by the conclusion of the night-time session.

Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari, while Valtteri Bottas was fourth following his earlier crash.

Bottas’ Mercedes mechanics performed a fine job to fix the Finn’s damaged car to allow him to participate in the evening running.

Hamilton is bidding for a hat-trick of victories here on his unstoppable march towards a sixth world championship.

And the 34-year-old Briton appears in a good position to follow up his 2017 and 2018 triumphs with another win under the thousands of bulbs that light up the city-state venue.

Despite Hamilton’s impressive Singapore record, the slow-speed track has been something of a bogey venue for his Mercedes team.

But the Silver Arrows look to be on top of the problems which have ensured they are not always the team to beat here.

On the evidence of practice, it could be a straight shootout between Hamilton and Verstappen after the Red Bull star finished 0.184 seconds off the pace.

Red Bull had been expected to run well this weekend, and in the hands of Verstappen, look poised to provide the greatest threat to Hamilton’s chances.

Vettel was the only other driver within one second of Hamilton, but the German finished a full eighth tenths behind the Mercedes driver in his Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc arrived for the 15th instalment of the season as the sport’s in-form driver following successive victories in Belgium and Italy.

But the Monegasque’s weekend got off to an underwhelming start as a gearbox issue plagued his opening running before he finished only sixth later in the day.

Ferrari’s powerful engine has less effect on the 23-corner street venue than the speedy Spa Francorchamps and Monza layouts, and Leclerc ended the day 1.2 secs down on Hamilton.

Alex Albon finished fifth for Red Bull, but a full second adrift of team-mate Verstappen.

The London-born Thai also broke his front wing after running straight on at Turn 10.

McLaren driver Lando Norris is racing in Singapore for the first time, and the British teenager finished an encouraging ninth, albeit two places and three tenths behind Carlos Sainz in the sister McLaren.

George Russell, also making his Singapore debut, was 18th for Williams.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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