Rain Master
The 2022 Singapore Grand Prix
text | Richard Kelley
edit | Henry Lau
translation | Thomas Lam

Sergio Perez led every gruelling lap to win the rain-soaked and time-limited Singapore Grand Prix


The Singapore Grand Prix expected to celebrate the coronation of Max Verstappen’s second F1 world championship. Instead, Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez seized the lead before the first corner of the rain-soaked track and, as a true Rain Master, never let go.
Starting on the front row, the Mexican overpowered Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on pole and led every lap, finishing with a dominating 7.5-second advantage at the checkers.
Perez delivered his fourth career Grand Prix and the third since the 32-year-old joined Red Bull in 2021, just when it seemed his F1 career had reached the end of the road.

Career Best

“That is without a shadow of a doubt the best drive of his career,” said Team Principal Christian Horner.
“Tricky conditions, he’d nailed the start, converted the start, settled himself into the race, he looked after those intermediate tyres, safety cars coming and going, re-starts, and he just was always in control, super-cool”.


His victory wasn’t without controversy. The race stewards investigated Perez for falling more than ten car lengths behind the safety car under the race’s two safety car periods.
Perez stated later that he was visually impaired behind the safety car and unable to keep up in the darkness-enhanced spray, which the stewards noted.
Perez was reprimanded for the first infraction and then received a five-second time penalty added to his final classification for the second incident. The Mexican’s victory margin was adjusted to 2.5s.


Given Red Bull’s warning of the possible post-race time penalty, Perez pushed hard to open up a more significant lead to cover off any potential post-race penalty. Leclerc, already at the limit in his Ferrari F1-75, couldn’t respond.
Carlos Sainz brought his Ferrari home in third. McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Riccardo finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at 21 seconds and 53 seconds behind Perez.

A Disappointed Dutchman

And what of Verstappen? The Dutchman turned 25 on Friday and entered the weekend hoping for his sixth successive victory that could have delivered the title with five rounds remaining.
Instead, his Saturday qualifying was ruined by Red Bull’s fueling error, leaving him starting seventh. He then destroyed his race with a poor start that dropped him to 11th. The Dutchman recovered but locked up and flat-spotted his tyre, trying to pass McLaren’s Lando Norris. He fought back to claim seventh.

The invigorated Aston Martin team of Stroll and Vettel romped to sixth and eighth places, splitting the despondent Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton took ninth, with Pierre Gasly claiming the final point in tenth.


Max Verstappen was in the midst of his final qualifying lap when his team ordered him to pit. They had also called the Dutchman to pit before his previous attempt. Had he completed the earlier lap, he would have claimed pole position.
Red Bull was concerned that Verstappen, who had the eighth fastest time at that point, would not have enough fuel to provide the FIA sample had he completed his lap. Faced with a choice of a certain eighth, or disqualification from qualifying, they chose the former.

Leclerc Claims Pole

Either way, with Verstappen failing to record his final lap, Leclerc claimed pole by 0.022sec from the Dutchman’s team-mate Sergio Perez.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, would start third in Singapore, his best qualifying performance of the season. The seven-time world champion was just 0.054sec off pole.

2022 Singapore Grand Prix

At lights out, Perez powered clear of Leclerc on the wet track to take the lead by covering the inside line into the first corner.
Sainz moved up and was side-by-side with Hamilton, but the Brit ran wide and Sainz took third. Hamilton immediately had Norris on his rear, hassling him. Meanwhile, Verstappen had dropped back four places into 12th.
By Lap 5, Perez led Leclerc by 1.251s, with Sainz five seconds farther back, with Hamilton another two. Verstappen moved up to ninth, but still remained 21.7s behind Perez.

First Safety Car

On Lap 8, Latifi squeezed Zhou into the wall, leaving Latifi with a punctured rear left and Zhou with a broken front right. Both retired, triggering a full safety car.
At the restart at the end of Lap 10, Hamilton attacked Sainz. Verstappen finally passed Vettel for eighth and then moved up the inside of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri at the hairpin on Lap 11 for seventh.
By Lap 18, Sainz was 10s behind the leader, followed by Hamilton, just 1.5 behind. Then came Norris, 17.5sec behind Perez and just ahead of Alonso, closely pursued by Verstappen.

Alonso’s Engine

Despite following less than a second behind, the Dutchman struggled to pass Alonso until Lap 21, when his Alpine’s engine expired, and the car ground to a halt in the run-off at Turn 10, marking the end of Alonso’s 350th Grand Prix. The stewards called a VSC.
Before the race could resume at speed, Albon put his Williams into the barriers, nose-first. He reversed out, but his front wing remained stuck into the wall.
The VSC ended with Albon’s front wing removed on Lap 27. Verstappen immediately closed on Norris for fifth, only to have Ocon’s Alpine stop at Turn 13.

Verstappen Attacks

With only 15 cars remaining, racing got back underway on Lap 30. Verstappen immediately relaunched his attack on Norris while the field gambled on tyres.
Pierre Gasly stopped for slicks, followed by Tsunoda, Bottas and Magnussen. A frustrated Hamilton tried to get past Sainz but hit the barrier at Turn 7. He rejoined between Norris and Verstappen.
Leclerc stopped on Lap 34, with Perez and Sainz taking on mediums on Lap 35. Verstappen followed as Norris stayed out. Perez retained his lead following the pitstops, with Leclerc seven seconds back.

Time Limit

On Lap 36, Tsunoda hit the barriers at Turn 10, triggering a full safety car. The pack closed up as far as Verstappen, with Ricciardo and Stroll just behind.
Critically, with this latest delay, only 38 minutes remained in the FIA-mandated two-hour F1 race window.
Racing resumed on Lap 40, and Verstappen was flying at the start. However, he locked up massively deep into Turn 7, trying to pass Ricciardo and went straight on. He had the move timed perfectly, going up the inside, but just couldn’t slow the car into the corner. His tyres were instantly flat spotted; their compound vaporized.
He flipped a spin turn and rejoined in eighth, just ahead of Hamilton.

“I Need to Pit”

His tyres now useless, Verstappen radioed, “I need to pit”. The Dutchman rejoined on soft tyres, in last place.
He didn’t stay at the tail-end for long. Verstappen re-passed Gasly for ninth. Hamilton was next, which became a three-way duel with Vettel. When Hamilton failed to pass the German, Verstappen needed no encouragement.
The Dutchman passed both to finish seventh behind Lance Stroll.
So as the title race moves on to Suzuka this weekend, Leclerc closes the gap to Verstappen to just 102 points, but has Sergio Perez only two points behind him now in the battle for second.
Verstappen needs to gain eight points on Leclerc and nine on Perez to clinch his second title.
“That is without a shadow of a doubt the best drive of his career,” said Team Principal Christian Horner.
“Tricky conditions, he’d nailed the start, converted the start, settled himself into the race, he looked after those intermediate tyres, safety cars coming and going, re-starts, and he just was always in control, super-cool.
“That’s world class, that is right up there. That’s for sure his best victory, I think it even surpasses his Monaco victory and under massive pressure he’s gone out and delivered.

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