F1 Singapore GP 2019 review: Vettel ends victory drought as qualifying faces axe

Also, Singapore in F1’s long-term plans, residents resist Miami race and Adrian Newey makes Extreme E switch.

German driver Sebastian Vettel ended a 13-month wait for a Grand Prix victory with a controversial win in Singapore.

The four-time world champion took advantage of an unexpected race pitstop strategy from Ferrari to move ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc and claim his first win since Spa in August 2018.

Leclerc, seeking a hat-trick of victories, told the team over the radio that it was “unfair”. Another welcome victory for Ferrari, and with it their first one-two since Hungary 2017, will have done little to diffuse that tension.

Lewis Hamilton had been running a close second behind Leclerc in the early laps, but Mercedes’ decision to run the defending champion long after Ferrari’s strategy gamble saw him drop behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and eventually have to settle for fourth place. Hamilton also had to rely on teammate Valtteri Bottas, who slowed Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to ensure the Brit would not come out behind after pitting. 

Despite missing out on a podium place as he looks to wrap up a sixth title, Hamilton saw his championship lead over Bottas, who came fifth, extend to 65 points.

Qualifying could be axed from 2020

Qualifying could be cut from next season after teams unanimously agreed to a revamp to determine grid positions

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said qualifying will be axed in 2020.

A secret vote between teams is reported to have taken place, resulting in a unanimous decision to revamp the Saturday before a race.

A mini race is being considered as a replacement for qualifying in order to determine grid position, though plans are still in a formative stage.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Binotto said: “All teams have said yes, including us. So in 2020, it will be done.”

Qualifying’s last major overhaul came in 2006, with the introduction of a three-stage knockout system to decide starting places.

Singapore remains in F1 plans

With a record 22 races confirmed for next season, including the new Vietnam Grand Prix, Singapore remains very much part of the sport’s future, said Formula One’s director of marketing and communications Ellie Norman.

Speaking to the Straits Times, Norman said: “Singapore is recognised as a destination Grand Prix. It is executed brilliantly and brings in all the elements (entertainment, concerts, food and convenience for fans) we want to bring into the sport.

“The Singapore race offers tremendous value proposition and will continue to be a strong draw.”

With Formula One targeting new audiences, Norman also noted that Asia is a strategic priority for the sport. With races now in China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam, Norman said Formula One has events that allow it “to reach different sets of fans while increasing the profile and interest in the sport.”

Singapore’s contract with Formula One ends in 2021 and negotiations between the two are expected to begin next year.

Adrian Newey makes Extreme E switch

Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey will lead a team in Extreme E, the new off-road all-electric racing series.

The design supremo, who helped Red Bull to four consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ titles between 2010 and 2013, will serve as lead visionary for the Veloce team.

The competition is set to be made up of 12 teams, with its first season planned for 2021.

Newey said: “The series is an exceptional platform for drawing attention to the Earth's environmental challenges and driving change.”

Greenland’s Russell Glacier has been revealed as one of five locations for the series, which was founded by Formula E’s Alejandro Agag and aims to raise awareness of climate change.

Adrian Newey will be the lead visionary for Extreme E’s Veloce team

Residents resist Miami Grand Prix plans

Plans to bring a Grand Prix to Miami Gardens have faced opposition from residents concerned about noise pollution in the area.

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey has met with representatives over holding a race in the city, with the grounds of the Hard Rock Stadium touted as a possible venue.

But locals have aired their concerns at a forum hosted by county commissioner Barbara Jordan after a preliminary report sponsored by the Rolling Crest Lake Inc. Homeowners Association also found that peak noise would approach the sound of a jet engine on take-off.

People in nearby houses would likely experience over 120 decibels — similar to the volume of a loud rock concert — according to Colby Leider, an acoustics expert who compiled the report.

Fears have also been raised over air and light pollution, and traffic congestion.

The proposed race is backed by Stephen Ross, owner of the National Football League’s (NFL) Miami Dolphins, who claims it will boost the local economy.

According to public information officers for the city and county, no Formula One racing plans have yet been submitted for approval.

Rising tensions

I just wanted to let you know my feelings. To be completely honest, I don't understand the undercut at all. But we discuss it later

Charles Leclerc makes his frustrations clear to Ferrari after being leapfrogged by his teammate. 

The Big Picture

Charles Leclerc can’t hide his disappointment after finishing second in Singapore

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