Max Verstappen kept waiting for title as Sergio Perez triumphs in Singapore

World champion must try again in Japan next weekend after frustrating race in the rain

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Max Verstappen’s wait for a second world championship goes on after he spun and finished seventh as Sergio Perez won Sunday’s chaotic rain-hit Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Perez took the chequered flag ahead of Charles Leclerc with his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz completing the podium.

Lewis Hamilton started third but finished a disappointing ninth after he hit the wall.

Verstappen heads to next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix with a 104-point championship lead. He needs to leave Suzuka 112 points clear to take the title and the Dutchman will be crowned champion in Japan if he wins and sets the fastest lap.

Perez’s triumph was subject to an investigation after the race following an infringement behind the safety car. The Mexican took the chequered flag 7.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc, and a five second post-race time penalty did not change the result.

“It was my best performance,” said Perez after the fourth win of his career. “I controlled the race.

“The last few laps were so intense. When I got out of the car I felt it. I gave everything for the win today.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner added: “Without a shadow of a doubt the best drive of his career. 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. He’s gone out, he’s delivered and I'm just super proud of him.”

The start of the race under the thousands of bulbs that light up the Marina Bay Circuit was delayed by an hour and five minutes following a huge downpour.

Perez made no mistake when the signal turned to green by beating Leclerc to the opening chicane in the damp conditions.

“Yeah I pushed all the way, the bad start set us on the back foot and after that it was really difficult to race after that,” said Leclerc. “I had a little bit of wheelspin and lost the performance there.

“A difficult race, a good night's sleep and we will get ready for Japan.”

Verstappen, who needed to win to stand any chance of securing back-to-back titles with five rounds spare, started down the order in eighth after his Red Bull team under-fuelled his machine in qualifying, and dropped to 12th following a poor getaway.

He said afterwards: “I dropped the clutch anti-stall. We need to analyse why that happened.

“I tried to pass a few people some worked, others were behind a train. It was really hard to follow.

“It's better than eighth but it's not what I'm here for. Not with a car like that. It was incredibly messy.”

Horner added: “It’s been a tough weekend for him, he was starting out of position obviously he was pushing hard, he was patience throughout the race.”

Third-placed Sainz said: “It was very tough. I never got into the rhythm in the wet and couldn’t challenge with top two guys. When you don’t have that extra confidence, you've got to settle on P3.

“I was quick towards the end when I managed to build a bit of confidence.

“It was a good result for the team and constructors.

“It's crazy how long the track takes to dry. We kept doing laps and you look at the track and the dry lines don't appear.”

On a night to forget for George Russell, the British driver – involved in collisions with Valtteri Bottas and Mick Schumacher – finished last.

Updated: October 02, 2022, 6:10 PM
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