RACE DEBRIEF

    The drivers and teams report back on an eventful race at the Formula 1 2018 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix...

    Mercedes

    Hamilton set up victory with his stunning lap in qualifying yesterday. In truth, after he got away cleanly, the race was always his - and he duly delivered his seventh victory of the season to extend his lead in the Drivers' Championship. Bottas had a tougher task to keep Raikkonen at bay with the Ferrari man behind on fresher tyres, but despite some frustration at blue flags, the Finn drove a mistake-free race to come home fourth.

    Lewis Hamilton, 1st

    "I'm so excited. I came here knowing that Singapore is a hard one for us. But I'm always optimistic, thinking that if we're really diligent and do our work, we can create some chances. Then Friday was already a good day for us. Saturday didn't start off well, but then all of the sudden that special lap came in. Knowing that we would start on pole, I knew that it was a great opportunity for us to capitalise on. I had a great start and from then I was able to manage it. When I hit the traffic, I was just mindful not to take any risks. When you start to get closer to another car, you start losing grip and start sliding around more, so there's a higher chance of mistakes. If you're lucky you catch the cars at the right point and they let you by so you don't lose any time, but today I always caught them at an unfortunate point. So when Max was right behind, I had to go on the defensive, and I thought to myself "Bro, you're not getting by - not today!" It was physically such a demanding race, so I'm relieved that it's over now - it felt like such a long night, but I'm super grateful for the result."

    Valtteri Bottas, 4th

    "There was not a whole lot happening in the race, I was hoping for more variables to come into play and shake the race up a little. There was only one Safety Car in the very beginning, but it came out too early to trigger any pit stops. It's very difficult to follow and overtake on this track, so once the Safety Car was back in, it was a fairly uneventful race. The first stint on the HyperSoft tyres was very straightforward. We knew that the second stint on the Soft tyres would be more difficult because it was so long and towards the end the tyres were pretty much gone. I can't be happy with P4, but a better result today was made very difficult by the qualifying result yesterday. However, we still got a good result for the team, which is great because everyone has been working so hard to improve the car and the set-up for Singapore."

    James Allison, Technical Director

    "Yesterday felt great, exhilarating and breathless, but about five minutes afterwards, those feelings disappear and our thoughts turn to the race; making good on pole position takes over our world. Now, just 24 hours later, a wonderful feeling of contentment washes through the whole team from the knowledge that we've done a good job here and increased our lead in both championships. More importantly, we have put right the weaknesses that have plagued us at this circuit for a number of seasons and validated a lot of the theories and analysis of why we have suffered previously. This sport can beat you up, like happened recently to us in Spa, but it is days like today that remind us why we are so very fortunate to work in Formula One. But this feeling, too, will last for about 10 more minutes before we begin fretting about Sochi, because our competition is desperately strong and the remaining races cover a very wide range of challenges. We are all aware that we need to keep having weekends like this one if we are to finally achieve the results that we so crave."

    Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

    "Singapore has been our bogey track for several years, so it is a special feeling to come here and win this race on pace. The entire team has worked so hard to understand the car and take steps forward, especially since our defeat in Spa, and this result is an indication that our work is paying off. We prepared well for this weekend, came here determined to make a step and we delivered. It was a weekend of many parts: a stardust lap from Lewis in qualifying, a chess game of tyre management this evening, and some nervous moments with traffic and backmarkers during the race - but in the end, we outscored our rivals for both championships and delivered a really satisfying result. There will be many discussions about backmarkers, who had a big influence on both drivers' races; I think this is a topic for the drivers to discuss among themselves, but perhaps there is a way to optimise those blue flag rules on street circuits like this. From our side, we can be pleased with a very solid weekend. We have leads in both championships but they change nothing in the mind-set of this team. We have six weekends to go and we know how quickly the situation can swing back against us. We will take it weekend by weekend, feet on the ground and determined to maximise our potential every time."

    Ferrari

    Vettel pounced at the start and passed Verstappen cleanly. But opting to pit early, he lost time behind an obdurate Perez - and lost the place back to Verstappen when the Dutchman pitted. From there, on ultrasoft rubber in contrast to his rivals, he was forced to manage his tyres and came home a distant third. Raikkonen likewise couldn't make much headway and never got close enough to make a move on Bottas in the battle for fourth.

    Sebastian Vettel, 3rd

    "It’s never easy to come and win even if, obviously, that was our target. Yesterday the qualifying didn’t go the way we wanted and we couldn’t extract the best out of ourselves. Today, starting from third position, we had to try something different, but it didn’t work out and we finished where we started. We were running second after a good start which allowed me to get past Max, I was happy and confident when I got the call to box, I knew I needed a mega out lap to try and challenge for the lead but it didn’t work. I lost time behind another car and the brakes got a little too hot, it was close but we got the worse of it. I fully support the team’s decision because, as I am sitting in the car, I can’t be aware of everything that goes on, so I rely on them. Our target was not to finish third, but today we just did not have enough speed."

    Kimi Raikkonen, 5th

    "Not much happened today in the race; the car was behaving well and we had a fair speed, but most of the time we were stuck behind somebody and taking care of the tyres. On this track it’s impossible to overtake, unless the guy in front makes a massive mistake. I could see Bottas struggling with his front right tyre and locking it sometimes, I could get closer to him but not enough to pass. Through the middle part of the track it was even difficult to follow him because we were losing downforce. In the first stint we stayed out longer hoping for a Safety Car, but it did not happen. The qualifying here is the key and obviously, when you start behind, your race ends up being a bit boring, getting stuck behind other cars. There was no way we could use our speed. Obviously we wanted more, we did what we could, but this is what we have got today."

    Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal

    "Today’s winner deserved the victory. After Sebastian overtook Verstappen, we went for an aggressive strategy, trying for the undercut on the ultrasoft tyres. Unfortunately, during the one lap that would prove to be crucial, we found ourselves behind another car and so we were unable to run at a fast enough pace. Despite today’s result, not all is lost. Now, calmly and with determination, we will tackle the remaining six races, fighting all the way to the end."

    Red Bull

    Ricciardo had a relatively quiet race - he held station from the start, and closed in on Raikkonen and Bottas ahead without being able to mount a true challenge. Verstappen was much more in the thick of it - fighting hard with Vettel at the start, he lost second place before effectively regaining it by putting in some quick laps when it mattered to overcut the German in the pit stops.

    Daniel Ricciardo, 6th

    “In the end, the race was a bit as we expected but we hoped for some sort of ultimate strategy. We tried something different by going long on the Hypersoft and we had good pace but a street circuit is only really great if you are on pole, otherwise it’s not only hard to overtake but even to follow. Qualifying is so important here and the race was really lost yesterday. I could catch Kimi, I would stay close to him for a couple of laps and then I would have to back-off. I had the pace to get back on his gearbox but I was never quite close enough to make a move. I really had to hope for a mistake or that Kimi and Valtteri would start tangling and I could capitalise. I got close at Turn 13 on the last lap, but it wasn’t close enough. Street circuits are my favourite tracks to drive but they can also be frustrating. In Monaco I listened to Lewis in seventh place complaining about following closely and now I understand what he was complaining about. I think everyone was in the same boat. I would have loved to fight for something more today but I couldn’t. Last night we spent quite a few hours here trying to figure it all out and I hope in Russia everything will fall into place. We’ll keep fighting, try to get better and maybe we can get a win at a circuit where we don’t expect it. Now I’ll jump into the ice bath and cool down.”

    Max Verstappen, 2nd

    “It was a shame to lose a position to Sebastian so early on but there was not a lot I could do as we were both flat out. I should have been able to hold the line but I just couldn’t match his speed. My only real chance to win was at the start, unfortunately it was a bit all over the place and I knew my chance had gone. Luckily the team had me on a great strategy and therefore managed to get me back into second place with a brilliant pit stop. When I got close to Lewis due to back markers I never really thought the pass would be possible. It’s hard to overtake here so I didn’t want to take the risk. It was also slightly unfair how he had been held up by drivers not getting out of the way. I had a few driveability issues again behind the Safety Car and pulling away from the pit stop was dreadful, but in the end we managed it well and got the result we wanted. After the way the car has felt at certain points this weekend, qualifying on the front row and taking second place today is an amazing result.”

    Christian Horner, Team Principal

    “It was a very strong drive from Max today to finish second behind Lewis, achieving our ninth consecutive podium in Singapore. On the first lap he dropped a place to Seb in the drag down to Turn 5, but thereafter we managed to make the strategy work in order to jump Ferrari at the pit stop and get Max alongside Seb as he exited the pits. From then on, Max tried to put pressure on Lewis but Lewis always had a tenth or two in hand. Daniel held his position at the start but his race then became about tyre management and trying to go as long as possible in the first stint in order to give him the better Ultrasoft tyre for the second half of the race. Despite setting fastest laps as he caught Bottas and Raikkonen it was impossible to get close enough to overtake and it’s frustrating that sixth was all that was on the table for him today. It’s encouraging to get both cars to the finish for the first time since the French Grand Prix and it’s been a very strong weekend in the garage from all the guys and the Renault technicians to try and solve the driveability issues.”

    McLaren

    Alonso started well, ran long and jumped his midfield rivals, helped by starting on the ultrasoft rubber. A 'best of the rest' seventh was McLaren's best result since Baku and much needed for the team who are under pressure from Force India in the Constructors' stakes. Vandoorne kept his race clean, but couldn't make inroads starting from so far back and finished outside the points.

    Fernando Alonso, 7th

    “I’m really happy with seventh position. Normally something happens in front of us, but today all six cars ahead finished the race, so P7, behind the top six cars, is a small win for us.

    “We executed the race to perfection with a good strategy, we maximised the tyre advantage starting on the purple ultrasoft tyre and then switching to the yellows softs and scored good points for the team, in the end.

    “At some point in the race we were also the fastest car on track, and on such a demanding circuit this makes me even happier.

    “It was no boring race for me, as we still needed to open some gaps in case of a Safety Car, and we didn’t know when people behind us would stop. So, even though we were alone, it was about controlling the gaps.

    “We knew coming here that the characteristics of this track would suit our package. I think it’s going to be up and down for the remainder of the season, as at some races we’re expecting to be competitive and at some others not so much.

    “The target will be scoring points on Sundays and helping the team in the Constructors’ Championship.”

    Stoffel Vandoorne, 12th

    “I think it was a decent race today considering not a lot of action happened during the race and there were no Safety Cars after the start. There was just that one incident on the first lap, but we couldn’t really benefit from that.

    “We were quick and actually had good pace when it mattered in that first stint, especially when the pit window opened. We decided to go long on the first stint, and that’s how we recovered a few places.

    “The tyres didn’t feel so great by the time we pitted, but we more or less had the pace to maintain that same rhythm. The others were getting blue flags so they were losing a lot of time, and that’s what mattered.

    “It’s always been known that we’re better on a Sunday than a Saturday, but on street circuits like Singapore it’s all about qualifying. It’s a shame not to score any points.”

    Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director

    “I think we can be very happy about the result today. Overall it has been a very positive weekend.

    “The car showed great pace in the race and our strategy team executed the job perfectly for both Fernando and Stoffel.

    “Stoffel also drove a good, clean race, and showed strong pace when he had some free air ahead, which was crucial to gaining six positions in a race without many incidents to take advantage of.

    “Quite honestly, Fernando’s pace was quite incredible during the race to bring the car home in P7. At one point, we had the fastest lap of the race, which is a great reward for all the hard work that has been going on behind the scenes not only by everybody here trackside, but also back at the factory.”

    Force India

    A race to forget. Perez and Ocon were side by side at the start, which ended with the two colliding and Ocon being dumped into the wall. The Mexican then set about rebuilding his race, but bottled up behind a slow Williams, he lost his cool and collided with Sirotkin when passing the Russian. A drive-through penalty and a lowly finish were the results of a frustrating evening.

    Sergio Perez, 16th

    “I feel very sad about the lost opportunity today. On lap one I was coming out of turn three, picking up the power and all of a sudden I felt a hit. I didn’t know who it was and then the team told me it was Esteban. I feel so bad for the team because we really need to be scoring points at every race and it should have been a great day for us. After that the race became quite tricky and I soon realised it was going to be difficult to score points. I think we underestimated how difficult it would be to overtake the Williams and Sirotkin was defending very hard and moving around under braking. When I finally got alongside him, I tried to close the door a bit too early and we made contact. It’s a weekend to forget and I am really sorry for what happened and the points we have lost today.”

    Esteban Ocon, DNF

    “It's a huge disappointment to be out of the race early when we had such strong pace. The car felt great this weekend and we knew a strong result was possible, but instead we're leaving Singapore with zero points. I am not going to analyse what happened at the start. All I will say is that I got off the line well and I saw an opportunity to go past Sergio. I had good grip on the outside, but then I felt a hit and I was in the wall. The only positive from tonight is that we have a strong car and we can be back scoring well in Russia. There are still six races remaining to score as many points as we can, so we will turn the page and keep working hard for the next race.”

    Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

    “An extremely disappointing race. It’s unacceptable for teammates to hit each other and it has cost us dearly. They didn’t leave each other enough room and the contact put Esteban into the wall. We will therefore reinstate the rules of engagement we operated last year after similar incidents, which means they cannot race each other. This disastrous race is all the more frustrating when you consider the speed we showed in qualifying and the opportunity that has passed us by. These painful lows are part of racing and it’s fair to say that there are very few positives to take from tonight apart from the car pace. We will have some discussions behind closed doors and will learn from what happened so that we can become stronger as a team.”

    Renault

    Hulkenberg had a poor getaway, losing out to his team mate at the start. He pitted earlier than Sainz and spent much of the afternoon in traffic, but stuck to the task at hand to work his way back into the points. Sainz by contrast ran a long opening stint, built enough a lead to pit and reemerge in the points to avoid all the squabbling back markers.

    Nico Hulkenberg, 10th

    “I’m not quite happy with the result, as I know it could have been better. I lost two positions at the start and from there we were on the back foot, which was costly. We pitted early, going for an aggressive undercut and that initially played out well, but we were caught up in traffic after that. I benefitted from the collision in front of me to get into the points, but it could have been more today, so it’s mixed feelings for me in the end.”

    Carlos Sainz, 8th

    “I’m very satisfied with the result today. I wasn’t happy yesterday, but I woke up knowing we had a really good chance in the race. We had an advantage with tyre strategy starting in twelfth and we made a good start to boost our possibility of getting into the top ten. Eighth isn’t bad for today, but I would have preferred to finish higher up the order. Five points for the team are important for the championship and we keep distance to our rivals. In general, I’m happy with today as we executed a good race.”

    Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal

    “Overall, we’re satisfied with this evening’s race as both cars finished in the points. We didn’t qualify as well as we could have yesterday so we needed a strong performance today and both drivers and the engineers on the pit wall delivered what was required. After a poor start, Nico drove sensibly with his head to return to the points, making the most of an undercut on Grosjean followed by a very long stint on the Ultrasofts. On his side, after a good start, Carlos drove smartly, attacking when it mattered and controlling when necessary for his eighth place. Five points is a useful benefit to our battle in the Constructors’ Championship, as we know it will be very tight in the next six rounds. On a broader note, we saw Red Bull and Max Verstappen on the front row and finishing second for the second time this season, which is a good reward for the C-spec engine, demonstrating our progress on that front. But, on the power unit, like on every other area of the car, we can measure this weekend once again the work we have ahead of us.”

    Williams

    Stroll tried a differing strategy to the rest of the field, starting on the softs and running a long opening stint but to no avail. Sirotkin, meanwhile, was creating more than his fair share of headlines. Firstly, he had to pit early due to having a portion of Ocon's wheel rim lodged in his front wing. Then his defending from Perez was questioned, before the Mexican collided with the side of his FW41. Finally, he was given a five-second time penalty for almost driving Hartley into the barriers. A different approach might be the order of the day next time out at his home race.

    Sergey Sirotkin, 19th

    "It was a fight. I fought all my way through, I was fighting and squeezing every single moment. We were in a good position at the beginning of the race, and up to the point of contact with the Force India car. This caused a lot of damage to my car and after that it was more about survival. It’s a difficult track to overtake, so I still fought as hard as I could to protect the car and keep my position, but lap after lap, it was becoming more difficult and the car was falling apart. I gave everything in terms of myself and with the car to bring the best performance home."

    Lance Stroll, 14th

    "I will have to watch the race, as I don't really know what happened around me, but I think there was quite a bit of chaos, so probably I benefited from that. I am really happy with the end result as 14th was a great result for the pace we had yesterday, and throughout the weekend. It wasn't easy - I would say more mentally than physically. I felt pretty good in the car as physically I had prepared. Mentally I am on the edge with no room for error. It wasn't easy as every millimetre counts round here and one millimetre too much is contact with the wall. I was trying to get everything out of the car on every lap, as for sure 61 laps round a track like this are very challenging. I pulled it off, so I am happy."

    Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer

    "It was a normal long race in Singapore and full of events. Sergey picked up a bit of wheel rim from Ocon’s accident which meant we had to take an early stop. We put the soft tyre on, planning to go to the end. Sergey did a fantastic job, managing the tyre and his pace, keeping traffic behind him under a lot of pressure. He ultimately got caught up in an impact with Perez, and that ruined his race otherwise he could have been looking at quite a good finishing position. On Lance’s side, we took advantage of the traffic and the different queues on the circuit to optimise his pitstop which gave him a better track position than we could have hoped for at the start. He was able to come in 15th on the road and inherited 14th due to a time penalty for Grosjean, which we were chasing until the end. So real congratulations to the team, another two cars home in a very tough race, and especially to the drivers; they were driving at the maximum for nearly two hours and got the best they could from the car."

    Haas

    Magnussen admitted he wasn't on the pace of his team mate all weekend and once again he struggled, ultimately pitting three times and finishing towards the back of the field - though he did set the fastest lap of the race late on. Grosjean looked to be in the battle for points but he got held up by Sirotkin, and eventually passed the Russian whilst having to let the leaders through. A messy blue flag period ensued, with the Frenchman penalised for not moving aside quickly enough.

    Romain Grosjean, 15th

    “I think it was a frustrating race for everyone who qualified between seventh and 10th on the hypersofts. It was such a poor tyre in the race. We did 10 laps and they completely went, while the ultrasofts did, I don’t know how many laps, 40? So, it’s almost better not to qualify in the top-10. Maybe we need to think about that a little bit because I felt like I pushed really hard in qualifying and in the race every single lap. I did the best I could but, in the end, I had no chance of being in the top 10. I’m sorry if I blocked anyone, it was not my intention. I believe I did my best. I was fighting with Sergey (Sirotkin), who was doing a little bit of go-kart racing out there. I couldn’t really slow down. Pierre (Gasly) was on my gearbox and Sergey was on my front wing. I passed him, then as soon as I passed him, I let Lewis (Hamilton) by.”

    Kevin Magnussen, 18th

    “It was a long day at the office. Obviously, it was a tough day for the team. I guess a slight highlight was getting the track record. It’s not really worth anything but perhaps a smile. Let’s move on, reset, and get ready to attack again in Russia.”

    Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

    “Not the weekend we wanted. We fought hard. If you have to start on these tyes, and the other ones are so much superior, if you qualify outside of the top 0, you have such an advantage, which you cannot make up in the race. Then we got stuck behind the Williams, which didn’t move out of the way, one thing went to another, and that’s where we ended up. Nevertheless, I think we tried to do our best. We are not as bad as it looks like.”

    Sauber

    Leclerc kept his head down, his nose clean and made it back into the points for the first time since Austria. Ericsson likewise had a strong race, pitting late, but finished in the unlucky P11 slot for the third time this season.

    Marcus Ericsson, 11th

    “It was a pretty good race today. The pace was good and there were no mistakes made. Despite that, it is a bit frustrating to have finished in P11, so close to the points. We gave a strong performance, but could not fight for P10 anymore after coming back out onto the track behind the leading cars following our pitstop. Nevertheless, we did a good job as a team and will fight back in Sochi.”

    Charles Leclerc, 9th

    “What a race – it was quite close to being perfect. We had strong lap times, and the balance of the car felt good from the beginning to the end. We made a great recovery this weekend, after having a weaker race pace on Friday. With our strategy, we were able to fight our way to the front of the midfield and finish in the points again. Achieving this after the past few weekends feels good and shows our potential. I look forward to the next one.”

    Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal

    “We are satisfied with our result today. After a tricky start to the weekend, we recovered well and qualified in decent positions. Our strategy was good and both drivers gave a strong and consistent performance in a very demanding race. Charles finished in P9 adding two more points to our tally, and Marcus was also close to finishing in the top ten. We have to stay focussed and continue improving this way, and I look forward to the next Grand Prix in Russia.”

    Toro Rosso

    Toro Rosso went aggressive - starting both drivers on the hypersoft rubber. Gasly used his tyres to good advantage, making up places at the start but got caught in traffic after stopping early. Hartley was in racy mood, fighting hard with Magnussen before being almost pushed into the barriers by Sirotkin.

    Pierre Gasly, 13th

    “It was a bit of a strange race today. I had a good start, recovered three positions and was P12 after the first lap. We gambled with the tyres and started with the Hypersoft, but in the end it was much more difficult than we thought and I really struggled to make them last at the end of the stint. After the first pit stop, I was in the mess with Sirotkin and Grosjean, and with all of the blue flags I lost quite a bit of time. I tried to do the maximum inside of the car, but I didn’t have the pace to fight for points all weekend.”

    Brendon Hartley, 17th

    “We rolled the dice today and decided to pit early, I was quicker than the guys in front being on the Hypersoft. We changed to the Ultrasoft and a lot of people covered us which put us back in traffic, so it didn’t really work out. We decided to do another pit stop and I got stuck behind the Williams and lost a place to Magnussen, there was a couple of good scraps out there but we didn’t have the pace for points today. It’s disappointing as we had high hopes for Singapore. It was a tough race, we got to the end but there’s no celebrations today. We chose to start on the Hypersoft because we knew we potentially had better tyre life than others around us, and we hoped we could make ground on the first lap. It was a bit tricky because Ocon went into the wall, but we were very competitive in the first stint on the Hypersoft. We tried to do something different to move up the field, but it didn’t work out.”

    Franz Tost, Team Principal

    “We were quite optimistic arriving in Singapore that we could score some points because we have been quite competitive here in previous years. However, we didn’t show the pace required to finish inside the top 10, so we need to analyse why we didn’t perform as expected, and what we have to change to increase our performance for the next races. Pierre made a very good start, he was able to gain a couple of positions and he defended well until his pit stop, while Brendon gained a position and avoided the incident at Turn 3. At the beginning we thought we could bring Pierre close to the top 10, but as the race went on the pace was not there which meant we were unable to achieve a points position.”

    Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director

    “We struggled at the start of the weekend, with a lack of pace from FP1 onwards and although we made a small improvement in time for qualifying, it wasn’t really enough to be competitive in the mid-field. Again, we saw that improvement in our race pace tonight, but starting so far back it was always going to be very difficult to get into the points on a street circuit where overtaking is very difficult. So, overall a tough and disappointing weekend. Now our attention turns immediately to the next round in Russia.”

    Pirelli

    Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing

    “As expected, Singapore was a very long, complex, and demanding race, while the 100% safety car record was maintained. This added another strategic element to what was already a tactically complex race. We saw a number of different strategies at work and a varying number of stops, with the top 10 on the grid all starting on the hypersoft that gave them extra speed at the very beginning of the race but left them open to the possibility of losing track position to those who completed a longer opening stint on a harder tyre or operated an alternative strategy.”

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