Sebastian Vettel sealed his first win of season, winning the Singapore Grand Prix at the end of a gruelling street circuit showdown under the floodlights. The race was Ferrari's first 1-2 since Hungary 2017.
As the fireworks took to the night sky on a humid evening in Singapore there was a sense that while Sebastian Vettel hadn't silenced his critics, he had answered them. The German driver was near flawless in winning the Singapore Grand Prix, his first finish at the top of the podium in 392 days and the fifth time he had taken the checkered flag at the Marina Bay street circuit.
It was a result that also maintained Ferrari's hot streak heading into the business end of the season. Teammate Charles Leclerc started the race on pole after wins at Spa and Monza, but after the pits it was Vettel who led the charge and was allowed to maintain the lead by Ferrari.
"It was a late call for the pitstop," explained Vettel. "I thought it was a bit early because I thought we could make the tires last in the first stint but then I gave it everything in the outlap and I was surprised to come out ahead."
Leclerc begrudingly accepted his role as Ferrari's second driver and promised to "come back stronger" after admitting "it is always difficult to lose a win like that but at the end it's a one-two for the team so I'm happy for that, our first of the season."
Title leader Lewis Hamilton had discussed his desire to "separate" the two Ferraris, but with Mercedes adopting a questionable strategy, Ferrari took full advantage as they completed a first one-two since the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2017.
"It was a bit sweaty, but I'm very happy," Vettel said in his post-race interview. "It was a great race. First of all big congratulations to the team - the start of the season has been difficult for us then we started to come alive and I'm really proud of everyone's work back home."
It was a great drive from Vettel, who had to work hard for his 53rd Grand Prix victory even if the strategy was on his side. After all that's been said and written about the much maligned man from southern Germany,his first win of 2019 will restore both his reputation and confidence.
As it happened
Lap 61/61 - VETTEL WINS THE SINGAPORE GP
Vettel takes the checkered flag for the fifth time in his career in Singapore as Leclerc is denied a third straight win by his Ferrari teammate.
Despite being in fourth, Hamilton's lead in the overall standings is still set to improve by a point.
Mercedes really got their tactics wrong in Singapore - they were surprised by Ferrari's pace, but didn't have a plan to combat it. However, there's an extra point in it for Bottas who has just set a new fastest lap at 1m43.534s.
Vettel sets another fastest lap 1m44.943s, which puts his lead over Leclerc up to 2.143s. His teammate isn't happy about the earlier undercut, but Vettel has raced magnificently from the front since taking the lead.
As things stand Leclerc and Verstappen would both crack the 200-point mark in the overall standings.
Vettel is squeezing everything out of his Ferrari as he sets a new fastest lap at 1m44.943s.
It's hard to see anything changing in the last six laps in Singapore. Vettel heads Leclerc at 1.065s.
Hamilton is again struggling to keep pace with Verstappen, while the two Ferraris have immediately restablished a near three-second cushion ahead of the Dutchman.
Another restart with 10 laps to go and Vettel sprinted clear at the front. This could still be a tense finish.
This race hasn't lived up the hype and is now winding down towards an anti-climatic finale on the back of the three safety cars. Any hopes Mercedes had of rescuing their position are out the windown and we're on course for the first Ferrari one-two since Hungary 2017.
The safety car is out again after a coming together between Raikonnen and Kvyat, who was taking a dive at the first corner.
Vettel and Leclerc have again pulled clear of Verstappen. The German race leader gets an ecouraging message over the team radio:
"You are doing a good job with tyres now, better than before. Well done."
Safety car number 2 is over. Will there be some twists and turns left in this one?
"I won't do anything stupid, but I still think it's unfair," says Charles Leclerc over the team radio. The Frenchman isn't happy, but surely this is a chance to be a good teammate?
As things stand, Leclerc could move within 100 points of Hamilton with six races to go.
Is Vettel going to pick up his first win in over a year? Will Leclerc find a way past his teammate for a third straight win? Can Hamilton clear Verstappen to challenge the Ferraris? Full safety car is deployed again, which helps Ferrari.
Rough spot for Racing Point as it looks like Perez's race is over. the double yellow flag is out.
Hamilton hasn't done well after the restart and is now more than 4 seconds off the pace of Vettel. Meanwhile, Stroll is forced to pit after damaging his front left tire.
21 laps left as the race restarts.
Leclerc is not happy about being behind Vettel: "To be completely honest with you I don't understand the undercut - but we will discuss after the race." Meanwhile, Ferrari tells Vettel not to "take any risk" when competing with Leclerc when the race restarts.
With the saftey car out, Vettel's lead over Leclerc is gone, while Hamilton in fourth should have an easier job on younger tires. Mercedes would have been hoping the saftey car came out earlier though. Lots of people questioning the strategy.
Just before the saftey car was deployed, Leclerc posted a new fastest lap of 1m45.054s
We've got a battle of the Ferraris at the front, but the saftey car is going to be deployed with Russel out of the race after a crash with Grosjean that sent him into the wall. Nothing serious though, but Singapore's 100 per cent record is maintained.
Ricciardo picks up a puncture after trying pass Giovanazzi on the inside. What a shame after putting in the most exciting performance of the evening.
Vettel has built up a six-second lead, as Leclerc takes Giovanazzi to move into second. Vettel will have to concede and he won't be happy about it chasing his first win since August 2018.
Vettel has made a really strong push up to the front and has just gone past Giovanazzi to take the lead with some gutsy driving. Leclerc is still behind the Italian and Gasly in fourth.
Tongue in cheek. Racing Point want the race called with Stroll up in 5th - as I write that he's dropped down to 6th behind Leclerc.
Hamilton is on hard tires now and may go for a one-stop strategy with his team radio suggesting he look after his new set. Meanwhile, Giovinazzi of Alfa Romeo is now in the lead having not pitted.
Hamilton on the state of his tires: "I know this isn't a great time, but my tires are out." Well that escalated quickly and now he's in the pits. Where does he come out? In eighth behind Verstappen and the two Ferraris.
Hamilton on the state of his tires: "They're not great but I don't want you to stop me."
We're almost half way through and Hamilton is still on his soft tires. If he pits now he's likely to come out of the pit behind both Ferraris. A mistake in the race strategy for Mercedes?
Bottas is the first of the two Mercedes to pit. Hamilton appears to be trying to use the open circuit to give himself some breathing room for when he does dip into the box.
Interestingly Leclerc has come back out behind teammate Vettel. The German will ahve to concede position to the man who won pole eventually, but when will that be?
Leclerc goes into the box so Ferrari have blinked first. We've now got a Mercedes one-two, but Hamilton and Bottas haven't pitted yet.
Vettel and Verstappen have both pitted and switched to hard tires.
Leclerc was starting to pull a further clear of Hamilton, but the Brit has upped the pace to keep his Ferrari counterpart in his sights.
The leaders haven't been pushing it too hard which is proven by the fact that drivers further down the pack are setting the fastest laps, Perez is the latest to stake a claim for the bonus point with a time of 1m46.683s.
Some of those on soft tires at the front of the pack are struggling and that message has been relayed through the team radio to a couple of drivers. This type of race could suit Hamilton who is gradually grinding down Leclerc on a grueling street circuit.
There's been no movement in the top six of Leclerc, Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, Bottas and Albon. There's so little time between each of the cars and we've got a long way to go in the Singapore heat. The pits are going to be pivotal.
The difficulty for Leclerc and Hamilton right now is that they haven't built up enough of a lead to pit without being in danger of getting stuck in the middle of the pack.
Now Kvyat falls to Ricciardo, who is very pumped up on the team radio. With little movement between the front two of Leclerc and Hamilton the Aussie is providing a lot of enteratinment in Singapore.
On a greuling street circuit not known for much fluctutation in the race standings, Ricciardo has moved up seven places since starting in last. Impressive.
Meanwhile, Sainz, who is a lap down following a coming together with Hulkenberg that left him with a punctured tire, is having a bit of trouble out there:
"There's something not normal."
Hulkenberg has set the fastest lap with a time of 1m47.539s.
The gap between Leclerc and Hamilton has been cut as low as 0.6s, but Lerclerc is doing well to hold off Hamilton in the faster Mercedes. Discipline will be required if he is to maintain the lead. The front two are starting to move clear of Vettel in third though.
Ricciardo started the race in last place, but took a hard inside line off the start grid to jump up a few places and has since worked his way up to 14th place.
Sainz, Russel and Hulkenberg have all been forced to pit after the jostling through the first few corners.
Leclerc makes a good start off the pole and immediately stretches into a lead with Hamilton forced to hold off the challenge of Vettel after being slow out of the blocks. No first corner crash this time around.
Lights out in Singapore!
We're off and the top nine drivers are all on softs to start the race. The Singapore Grand Prix is notoriously tricky and has a 100 per cent record of the safety car being deployed.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have both won the Singapore Grand Prix four times. The Brit first won in 2009 before adding race wins in 2014, 2017 and 2018, while Vettel hasn't won since 2015 having previously won three straight between 2011 and 2013.
The German has a point to prove today and will be looking to make his mark from third place on the starting grid.
Hamilton: The man with a plan
Sitting second on the grid, with Leclerc on pole and Sebastian Vettel in third, Mercedes' driver Lewis Hamilton, who currently boasts a 63-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the standings, admitted the results in qualifying didn't meet expectations.
"I don't know where Ferrari picked up their pace today, it was potentially not one of their tracks, but Charles put a great lap in. I think tomorrow we can be aggressive and hopefully divide them..."
What does race prep look like?
Not so bad by all accounts...
A look inside the cockpit
Check out the lap Charles Leclerc put in to take pole in Singapore, there are a few moments that aren't for the faint of heart. The Frenchman said afterwards that it was "quite a crazy lap" with "quite a bit of mistakes".
Good afternoon one and all!
Ferrari are enjoying a hot streak as we approach the business end of the Formula 1 season, but it's not Sebastian Vettel leading from the front. At the Singapore Grand Prix the German's talented teammate Charles Leclerc is looking to defend pole position against title leader Lewis Hamilton, who joins him on the front row.A win today would be the third in a rowfor the Frenchman and we could be in for another thriller.