By: Theodora Greco
Over the weekend, Formula 1 returned for one of its most anticipated races of the season.
Singapore’s humid climate makes it an exceptionally physically taxing race, so to prepare, drivers rode stationary bikes in a sauna to simulate the conditions. In addition to the climate, Singapore’s street circuit track is famous for its narrowness and dangerous conditions.
One of the top stories of the weekend featured Max Verstappen. This race was his first opportunity to achieve the title of World Champion. Although it was unlikely that he would be crowned World Champion this weekend, it points out the Dutchman’s dominance through the season. But, this news was overshadowed by rumors that Red Bull exceeded their budget cap in 2021. Team Principal, Christian Horner, denies being aware of any breach in the cap; however, the F.I.A. will come out with a further review next week.
In other news, Alex Albon returned to the Williams’ cockpit after complications from an appendix removal surgery. Having been on a ventilator less than two weeks ago, Albon’s race preparation had to be accelerated.
Saturday’s qualifying day came along with an extra obstacle. Rainy weather caused all teams to start on wet intermediate tires in Q1. Bottas, Ricciardo, Ocon, Albon, and Latifi were eliminated, giving them the last five spots to start on Sunday.
In Q2, only the Aston Martins and Zhou Guanyu made the risky decision of switching to slick tires. Unfortunately, the gamble did not pay off, and the track was still too wet for the tires to hold any grip. As a result, Martins and Guanyu, along with Russell and Schumacher, were knocked off.
Q3 was by far the most exciting session. In the last two minutes, there were multiple changes in pole position. With a few seconds left, LeClerc, in the Ferrari, got the top time and pole position. Perez, in the Red Bull, followed behind him, coming in second. To the surprise of many, Verstappen started at the eighth position after aborting his last flying lap to save enough fuel for the FIA check afterward.
Sunday’s race day proved even more hectic than qualifying. The race was delayed an hour due to rain. At the start, Perez moved ahead to first while his teammate Verstappen tumbled down to 12th. Crashes and car malfunctions forced six drivers to retire throughout the race. Several safety car interruptions changed the race’s finish, switching from lap 61 to the two-hour maximum.
With little interference, Perez took home the win for Red Bull. He was given a five-second penalty for safety car infringement but managed to hang on to the win. LeClerc and Sainz followed, coming in second and third to make the podium. McClaren’s drivers came in fourth and fifth making this one of their best weekends of the season. Verstappen recovered from the start but couldn’t get the World Champion title from seventh place. Mercedes struggled throughout the weekend in Singapore and scored only two points courtesy of Lewis Hamilton.
Next week is the Japanese Grand Prix. Much of the attention will still be on Verstappen as he will have a second chance at World Champion. However, Yuki Tsunoda will enjoy more attention from the press, as it is his home race. If Mercedes and Ferrari still hope to be the top team at the end of the season, they will have to produce better results than they did in Singapore.