Checo Wins 4th Grand Prix!

It was a wet weekend in Singapore.  One could say that Max Verstappen’s second Formula 1 Championship is merely rain delayed.  Singapore’s rainy weekend befuddled all ten racing teams as they struggled to figure out how to set up their cars in order to properly navigate the 23 turn Marina Bay Circuit.  Verstappen was on pace to be on pole during his last lap of Q3 when the team ordered him to box.  Apparently, the team did not gauge his fuel correctly and there would not have been enough to test at the end of qualification.  He had to box before he finished his pole setting lap to salvage 1 liter of fuel for testing.  Verstappen started the race in eighth.  He ended in seventh.


It was a good weekend for Ferrari.  They finally put it all together.  They qualified well, with Charles Leclerc on pole and Carlos Sainz in fourth.  They had a race strategy and they executed it flawlessly.  Leclerc did not pit until lap 35 despite at least six yellow flags.  Sainz pitted shortly thereafter.  If one could fault their race strategy, it would have been that they chose to not undercut Sergio Perez as soon as the yellow flag at lap 33 flew.  Despite that, Leclerc and Sainz both finished on the podium, keeping Ferrari’s championship hopes alive for at least one more week.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico leads the field soon after the start of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix, at the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore, Sunday, Oct.2, 2022. (AP Photo/Danial Hakim)

Sergio Perez drove his Red Bull to the front line.  He then drove to victory.  Knowing that they committed a serious error with Verstappen, Red Bull knew that they needed to execute flawlessly with Perez.  Checo executed a brilliant drive.  As they grid took off, Checo got the jump on Leclerc heading into turn one.  Checo took the lead and never gave it up.  There was a moment in the race when Leclerc looked like he would take the lead back.  With 28 minutes in the race to go, Leclerc was pushing Checo.  He pulled within a second of him and Checo was feeling the Ferrari’s heat.  He even noted that his Red Bull was experiencing some engine trouble.  During two laps in a row, he locked up his front tires on turn seven but still managed to stay ahead of Leclerc.  By the end of the race, Checo finished seven seconds ahead of Leclerc for his 4th Grand Prix victory in his career.


Verstappen had a chance to podium and possibly win this race.  With 33 minutes to go he attempted to pass Lando Norris going into turn seven.  Had he executed, he would have been in fourth place with 33 minutes of the race left to go.  Instead, Verstappen locked up and went into the runoff area.  He was able to get back on track but with massive flat spots in his tires he had to work his way up from 14th.  Still, he made things interesting as he passed Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel on the last lap to secure seventh place.  It was a tough weekend for Verstappen all the way around.  For Verstappen, the good news is he finished in the points and didn’t total his car.


The Singapore Grand Prix rate of attrition was high.  Both Alpine and Williams’ cars did not finish.  Yuki Tsunoda for Alpha Tauri and Zhou Guanyu for Alpha Romeo also did not finish.  When the race was over you could see how taxing it was on the drivers.  Checo, Leclerc, Sainz and Verstappen were just glad that they finished the race.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico stands on his car as he celebrate after winning the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix, at the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore, Sunday, Oct.2, 2022. (AP Photo/Danial Hakim)

Verstappen’s championship honors are merely rain delayed.  Maybe he secures it in Japan.  Maybe he secures it in Texas.  However, it would be fitting for Red Bull and Verstappen to secure his second championship in Honda’s home country.  On to Japan!

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