F1 Debrief: Hamilton does it again, Perez and Grosjean in hot water
Welcome to the morning after the Singapore Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton won again at a track where Mercedes has traditionally struggled more than others. And there was more disappointment for Ferrari, so let’s look at the stories behind the headlines…
Hamilton dominates after pole brilliance
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images
While Sunday’s race was a stroll for Hamilton, apart from a brief scare when some battling tailenders backed him into Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, it proved another struggle for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel on a track where they were expected to excel.
Hamilton’s success was built on his heroics on Saturday, when he took a “magic” pole position, and then he dominated from the front on Sunday.
“I definitely didn’t come to Singapore expecting to come away with 10 points more [than Vettel],” said Hamilton. “Definitely not, but I am very, very grateful for those points and for all the hard work the team has put in.”
Vettel defends Ferrari strategy
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H fails to pass Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 after the pitstops
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images
Coming off the back of its Italian Grand Prix disappointment, Sebastian Vettel even had the ignominy of giving up a hard-earned place to Verstappen after a strategy call to attempt to undercut Hamilton didn’t work out.
“It's largely down to how we decided to race and which tyres and for how many laps, etc,” said Vettel, who ran second during the opening stint but had to settle for third. “With what we did, we tried to get to first position and get ahead. But Lewis was too quick.
“Once you are ahead you can control the pace around here, but we never got ahead.”
With only six races remaining, and a 40-point gap to reverse, Vettel can’t really afford to trail Hamilton again this season.
Force Indias collide… but never again, says team
Esteban Ocon, Racing Point Force India VJM11, Sergio Perez, Racing Point Force India VJM11 about to collide
Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images
Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer says that Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon won't be allowed to race each other after their first lap contact in the Singapore Grand Prix.
The pair touched on the exit of Turn 3 on the first lap when Ocon tried to go around the outside, and his teammate moved over and put the Frenchman into the wall.
“I didn't remind them here, maybe I should have done,” Szafnauer told Motorsport.com about not making contact. “But they know it now, and again they're not going to race any more if they can't do it.
“There wasn't any room, Checo should have given him room, and Checo had plenty of room.”
Perez said: “As I am picking up the power I just get a clip from one car, I'd not even realised it was Esteban, and then as I get the message from the team I was very sorry for that."
Asked if he would speak to Ocon about it, he added: “I don't think I have much to say, I'm just very sorry for the day the team had in general.
“I wish I could have seen Esteban there or done something differently.”
Perez was then involved in another extraordinary collision, with the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin, which resulted in a drive-through penalty, which he labelled “fair”.
Grosjean nearing race ban after another penalty
Sergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41, leads Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images
On the back of his Italian Grand Prix frustration, where he was excluded after the race, there was more woe for Romain Grosjean in Singapore where he missed out on a points finish despite qualifying inside the top 10.
Grosjean’s strategy meant he became trapped behind the Sirotkin’s tardy Williams, and he received a five-second penalty and two licence penalty points for ignoring blue flags while race leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were trying to get past.
After the race, the FIA’s Charlie Whiting explained of the decision to penalise him: “Romain just completely forgot the golden rule of blue flags. And that is if you are in a battle you’ve got to forget about your own battle and move over.
“I’ve drilled that into them many times, and I think he completely forgot about it.”
Grosjean’s penalty points mean he is three away from receiving enough to warrant a race ban, with the Russian, Japanese, US and Mexican Grands Prix all taking place before any of his current running total of licence points elapse.
Alonso: “Abnormal” Singapore no indicator of improved form
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, leads Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18, and Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Photo by: Steven Tee / LAT Images
Fernando Alonso believes a "magical" Singapore Grand Prix was just a one-off for McLaren, and the Spaniard expects his team to struggle again in upcoming events.
Alonso started from 11th place at Marina Bay and went on to finish as best of the rest in seventh position, behind the Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls.
The result was McLaren's best since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April, and the first time Alonso has scored in the last three races.
After the race, he admitted: “It's a complex circuit for the set-up and to extract the best. We lapped Magnussen today. At Monza and Spa with many straights they pretty much lapped us, so I think it's the circuit that's abnormal and I'm afraid we'll have difficulties again in the upcoming races.
“We know that every time we come to Singapore we have an opportunity but you have to be there and take it because many times you miss them due to little details, but we usually don't.”
Singapore GP: Post-race press conference
Hamilton takes pride in not making Vettel-like errors