The race on the Marina Bay street circuit turned out to be one of the most memorable this year: in the absence of Red Bull, whose cars had problems throughout the weekend, three teams competed for victory. The outcome of the battle was determined in the closing laps, when Carlos Sainz, thanks in large part to his and Lando Norris’ ingenuity, managed to hold off a pair of Mercedes on fresh tires.
In theory, Leclerc should have participated in this battle: two Scuderia cars were leading the race in the first segment, but in the end the team decided to sacrifice Charles. Furthermore, the sacrifice was actually in vain.
More details about the last race:
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Where did Leclerc go?
Charles’ problems began in qualifying, when he was slower than his teammate and qualified only third. At the start, Leclerc chose “soft”, which helped him overtake Russell, but the Monegasque failed to overtake Sainz in ten laps, and then the driver received the order from the bridge to stop attacking.
Leclerc lost his last chance to win due to Logan Sargent’s accident and the safety car exit. Being behind his teammate, Charles lost a little time waiting for her to stop, and a couple more seconds while he let his rivals pass through the pit lane. However, despite all the losses, the Monegasque returned to the race sixth, ahead of Hamilton.
Leclerc loses to Sainz for the second consecutive stage
Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
The fight with Lewis was Leclerc’s last hope for the podium, but immediately after the restart Charles let Mercedes take the lead and was only fifth when Esteban Ocon retired. With less than 20 laps to go, there was no longer any chance of winning, and Ferrari left Leclerc on the track so that he could hold off those who decided to make a pit stop. They turned out to be Russell and Hamilton.
True, Leclerc could not provide any particular help to Sainz (he held Russell back only for a couple of laps, during which the gap between George and Sainz even decreased) from 8.6 seconds on lap 51 to 8.0 on the 53. The situation is similar with Hamilton: on lap 53 he was 9.1 seconds behind Sainz, and on lap 54, after overtaking the Ferrari, he was 8.3 seconds behind.
Sainz used Norris against Russell
Photo: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
In the end, Sainz remained alone in first place. Realizing that the Mercedes were closing in quickly on new tires, the Spaniard did not separate from Lando Norris to have the right to open DRS in defense against George Russell. The plan worked: if it were not for Lando, it is not a fact that Sainz would have resisted the Mercedes alone. One way or another, for the second consecutive stage the Spaniard seems stronger than his teammate and brings the best possible result to the team.
As for Leclerc, he has only himself to blame for his problems over the weekend. And it’s not that the team took revenge on him for the fight with Sainz in the previous race, that time Frederic Vasseur personally allowed the drivers to fight among themselves. Charles was simply slower than Sainz and therefore started behind him, was forced to wait in the pit lane and, in the end, played second fiddle.
Leclerc loses to Sainz for the second time in a row:
Not a team player? Leclerc risked the Ferrari podium for personal ambitions
Russell and Hamilton: speed versus reliability
Another highlight was the clash between the Mercedes drivers at the start of the race. Hamilton started brilliantly from fifth position, passed Norris into the first corner, but was unable to pass the second alongside Norris and went off the track. Lewis eventually gave the job back to his partner, and there are no questions here, but then management demanded that Lando be allowed in as well.
The judges’ motives are not entirely clear, because the former champion was ahead of McLaren even before the corner was cut and clearly avoided a collision with Russell. However, the announcement of the abandonment of the investigation only appeared after Hamilton returned to fifth place. However, as in the case of Leclerc, Lewis has only himself to blame for this situation: if he had qualified better than Russell, he would not have had to fight him in the first corner.
Russell was Sainz’s main rival in the race
Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images
In the future, George behaved brilliantly. He was not afraid to give up second position to take a risk and compete for victory on new tires, and he probably would have achieved it if the gap between Sainz and Norris had been greater. But it all ended in the last lap, due to a momentary loss of concentration. After spotting Lando, Russell caught the top and flew straight into the next turn. Instead of a safe podium, a meeting.
Third place finally went to Lewis. Despite the starting problems, Hamilton maintained the pace of the leaders and was among the four contenders for victory in the final laps. Lewis may not have been as fast as Russell this time, but he turned out to be much more reliable than his teammate and rightly took the podium. However, as the weekend progressed, the seven-time champion once again found himself in the shadow of his teammate, and George won’t always hit the wall.
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