Sergio Perez claimed his first Formula 1 race win since the Monaco Grand Prix in May in Singapore, though a post-race investigation over a potential safety car procedure infringement may yet threaten it.
Perez resisted race-long pressure from polesitter Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari to take the win.
The race was the first chance for Perez’s Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen to clinch the 2022 world championship, but he had the worst race of his season so far and finished seventh.
Perez jumped Leclerc off the line when the race got underway just over an hour late due to earlier downpours that left the track wet enough to require intermediate tyres for much of the distance.
Already only eighth on the grid due to the team misjudgement that forced him to abandon his last Q3 lap so he had enough fuel left for the mandatory FIA sample, Verstappen then made a slow start and had a messy first lap that left him down in 12th.
He managed to recover to fifth by the time of a lap-36 safety car period prompted by Yuki Tsunoda crashing his AlphaTauri just after taking slicks.
All those still on intermediates made the tyre switch around that safety car, but just after the restart Verstappen locked up hugely while trying to line up a move on Lando Norris’s McLaren for fourth and shot down an escape road.
He pitted for fresh soft tyres and rejoined 12th before charging back into the points.
Perez and Leclerc were in a class of their own at the front all night, with the Red Bull keeping the Ferrari at a safe distance through the damp part of the race.
Ferrari hoped to get an advantage by pitting for slicks on a different lap to Perez, but Leclerc ran slightly too deep into his pitbox and had a slow stop, with the need to warm the slicks up also meaning there was no undercut advantage this time.
The safety car brought Leclerc right onto Perez’s tail, though, and he had several good looks at passing.
A couple of small errors by Leclerc let Perez get some breathing space, and Red Bull then urged its race leader to push on as hard as possible after stewards announced that an unspecified safety car infringement would be investigated post-race.
Perez’s eventual winning margin was 7.6s, meaning he would keep victory if he gets a five-second penalty.
Carlos Sainz completed the podium, having not been on Ferrari team-mate Leclerc’s pace.
He fended off heavy pressure from Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes until the seven-time champion outbraked himself and slewed into the barrier.
Hamilton was able to change his damaged front wing and take slicks at the same time, but it left him down in ninth, where he ultimately finished having run wide trying to pass Sebastian Vettel and been overtaken by Verstappen late on.
Norris kept Sainz in range for a while before heading a McLaren 4-5 that launched the team ahead of Alpine for fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Staying out of trouble and – like Norris – managing to get a ‘cheap’ pitstop for slicks thanks to the safety car meant Daniel Ricciardo advanced from 16th on the grid to fifth place.
Both Alpines retired with mechanical problems, Fernando Alonso having been gallantly holding off Verstappen for a top five place for lap after lap before his car failed.
Aston Martin got a double points finish with Lance Stroll sixth and Vettel eighth, passed right at the end by Verstappen.
Hamilton and Pierre Gasly completed the scorers.
Only 14 cars finished, George Russell’s Mercedes the last of them. He had started from the pitlane anyway after an unscheduled engine change, lost huge time by gambling on slicks too early, later collided with Mick Schumacher and picked up damage, then made an extra stop for softs to deny his rivals for second in the drivers’ championship the fastest lap bonus point.
Kevin Magnussen was another outside-the-points finisher with lots to rue, having been black-and-orange-flagged for wing damage after a spirited first-lap battle with Verstappen. The Haas came home 12th.
The other retirements were both Williams and Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo.
Zhou exited when squeezed into the wall by Nicholas Latifi, who has a five-place grid penalty for the Japanese GP as a result, while Albon hit the wall twice and retired with terminal damage from the second impact.
|Pos||Name||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||60||60||2h2m20.238s||1m48.165s||1||25|
|6||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin-Mercedes||60||0||+56.33s||1m50.283s||1||8|
|7||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||60||0||+58.825s||1m49.142s||2||6|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin-Mercedes||60||0||+1m0.032s||1m50.669s||1||4|
|10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||60||0||+1m09.576s||1m50.569s||1||1|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||60||0||+1m28.844s||1m51.864s||1||0|
|13||Mick Schumacher||Haas-Ferrari||59||0||+1 lap||1m50.29s||2||0|
|14||George Russell||Mercedes||58||0||+2 laps||1m46.458s||4||0|
|Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri-Red Bull||34||0||DNF||1m58.716s||1||0|
|Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo-Ferrari||6||0||DNF||2m05.556s||0||0|