SINGAPORE — While all eyes were on Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in the battle for the driver's title this Formula One season, it was Sergio Perez - the third driver with a mathematical chance at winning the title - who stole the thunder at the F1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday (2 October).
The Red Bull Racing driver grabbed the lead from Ferrari's pole-sitter Leclerc right at the start, and drove immaculately to clinch his second win of the season in 2hr 2min 15.238sec at the Marina Bay street circuit, receiving the trophy from Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.
He was later given a five-second penalty and a reprimand for a safety-car infringement, but still kept his title as he finished more than 7.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc.
"This was certainly my best performance of my F1 career," said the 32-year-old Mexican, whose other win this year was also on a street circuit at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix.
"The last three laps were just so intense, but I pushed hard and I gave everything for this win."
While a record 302,000 spectators attended the Singapore Grand Prix over the past three days, torrential rain had threatened to put a major dampener on the main race about an hour before the 8pm start. However, the skies cleared up, fans returned to the stands and the race began after being delayed for a little over an hour.
Six retirements amid slippery conditions
The slippery conditions made the already-tough circuit even trickier, and the race saw six retirements - Williams' Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon, Alpine's Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, Alphatauri's Yuki Tsunoda and Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu - as they slid out of control.
Perez, on the other hand, was a model of control with his 11 years of F1 experience, as he fended off Leclerc's challenge throughout the race and became the fifth winner of the Singapore Grand Prix after Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.
It was another disappointing night for Leclerc, who has failed to win in Singapore despite being on pole for two consecutive editions. In 2019, he endured frustration as his then-teammate Sebastian Vettel was favoured by the team to pit first, allowing the German to take the lead from Leclerc and eventually win his fifth Singapore title.
At least the overall title race remains alive - barely. Verstappen could finish only in seventh place, leaving the Red Bull Racing driver still with some work to do at the Japanese Grand Prix in the coming weekend to seal his second straight driver's championship.
In yesterday's support races, Thailand's Kantasak Kusuri won the second Singapore race in TSS The Super Series for YK Motorsports Billionaire Boy by Sunoco, while the Netherlands' Beitske Visser claimed her first W Series win in three years, finishing just 0.3sec ahead of British rival Alice Powell.
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