Red Bull's Perez drives 'race of his life' to win wet, rollercoaster Singapore Grand Prix
Mexican Sergio Perez put in the drive of his life to take victory ahead of Charles Leclerc in Sunday's (Oct 2) Singapore Grand Prix as Formula One title favourite Max Verstappen had to put his championship celebrations on hold.
Ferrari’s Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished second and third respectively while Red Bull’s championship leader Verstappen, who started the race eighth, finished seventh.
In an action-packed Singapore Grand Prix, Perez drove to victory despite receiving a five-second post-race penalty for a safety car infringement.
Heavy rain had forced a delay of over an hour, leaving the surface still slippery for the start of the race, which did not run to its full 61 laps as the maximum duration for an F1 race is two hours and a completed full race would have crossed that threshold.
Not surprisingly, the incident-filled spectacle saw a number of safety car periods as six drivers – including Fernando Alonso, who made a record 350th race start – retired.
Pole-sitter Leclerc lost the lead to Perez into Turn 1 and Sainz easily pried P3 off Lewis Hamilton, who went wide into Turn 1.
Perez led from start to finish, taking the chequered flag ahead of Leclerc by 7.5 seconds.
It was the Mexican’s first victory in Singapore, making him the fifth F1 winner here after Nico Rosberg (2016), Fernando Alonso (2008, 2010), Lewis Hamilton (2009, 2014, 2017, 2018) and Sebastian Vettel (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2019).
Calling it the “best drive of his career”, Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports: “Tricky conditions, he converted the start, he got himself settled into the race, he looked after the intermediate tyres. He was always in control, super cool.
“That’s world class, it’s right up there, for sure his best victory, it surpasses his Monaco victory. He’s gone out, he’s delivered and I’m just super proud of him.”
The drive, which Perez hailed as his best performance yet, earned him his fourth career win and second this season.
"Yeah, it was certainly, I think, my best performance," said Perez.
"I controlled the race although the warm-up was pretty difficult. The last few laps were so intense. I really didn’t feel it so much in the car but when I got out of it, I felt it."
Suzuka hosts the next round of the World Championship with Verstappen on the verge of securing his second drivers' title in the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix, on Oct 7-9.
A record 302,000 fans turned out for the three-day event, with the previous high of 300,000 recorded in the inaugural race in 2008.
The Singapore Grand Prix made its return to Marina Bay for the first time since 2019 - it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 owing to the pandemic - when Vettel won the race with Ferrari.
Besides the race, spectators were also treated to an entertainment line-up that included American rock band Green Day, Irish boy band Westlife and American electronic dance music star Marshmello.
More than 75 performances took place across eight stages at the Circuit Park in Marina Bay.