Sebastian Vettel ended a 13-month drought by recording win no. 53 at the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Grand Prix 2019 at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. It was Ferrari’s third win in a row and their first one-two finish since Hungary back in 2017.
However, the victory of the 32-year-old was not spared from controversy. Vettel benefitted from an unusual Ferrari strategy that allowed him to leap-frog ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc. The 21-year-old was disappointed, telling his team over the radio that it was “unfair” and that this will do little to reduce tension within the team.
According to BBC.com, Vettel started third and his victory depended on a decision by Ferrari to stop him early. This decision was made to ensure he would not pit and come out behind Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault. Ferrari pitted Vettel on lap 19.
“I thought it was a bit early because I wasn’t sure whether we could make the tires last in the second stint but I gave it everything in the out-lap because I saw the two cars in front of me not pitting,” said Vettel in a report by Formula1.com.
Leclerc was pitted the next time around but Vettel’s pace advantage on his first lap out of the pits on fresh tires assured him of having the edge over Leclerc.
“What the hell?” Leclerc said over the radio, almost certainly wondering why he was not pitted first.
“I just wanted to let you know my feelings. To be completely honest, I don’t understand the undercut at all. But we discuss it later.”
At the final lap, Leclerc asked for “everything” from the car to attack Vettel. However, he was told he needed to manage the engine and bring the car home. This was a code for him to hold position behind his teammate.
The displeasure seemed obvious on Leclerc. He stood next to Inaki Rueda at the podium. Team principal Mattia Binotto was aware that the strategy miffed the 21-year-old but believed that once everything has been exclaimed to him, he will understand.
It was a cloudy ending for the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2019 which set a new record for the highest attendance in its 12-year history. It bested the numbers from last year.
In more than 130 hours of entertainment across 10 stages, innovative hospitality offerings, and exciting gastronomic experiences throughout the Circuit Park, the twelfth edition of the Formula 1-night race drew 268,000 spectators to the Marina Bay Street Circuit over the three-day action-packed weekend.