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Sebastian Vettel finally wins in 2019 to end a 392-day barren run

Sebastian Vettel won under the lights in Singapore to win his first race for over a year, as he leapfrogged team-mate, Charles Leclerc, in the pit-stop which left the Monegasque furious.

Entering the pit-stop window, Leclerc was comfortably in first with Vettel in third, but Ferrari left the leader out longer.

This subsequently came to the German’s benefit, with Leclerc returning from the pit-lane behind his team-mate and could not find a way past throughout the remainder of the race.

Vettel’s last victory came in Belgium, 2018 when Leclerc was still racing for Sauber. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Strategy enabled victory for Vettel and is a race win that has been a long time coming.

Max Verstappen claimed the final podium spot with strategy, too, ruining Hamilton’s race as well as Leclerc.

The undercut proved such a strong option in the race, yet such choice was not possible for Mercedes as they decided to keep the championship leader out longer than the rest.

Hamilton had declared he wanted to attempt the undercut on Leclerc as Vettel pitted, but the Monegasque then boxed that lap leaving no chance of Mercedes attempting such possibility.

Had Leclerc not pitted that lap, then it could well have been Hamilton on the top step due to the strength of the undercut in this race.

Yet, despite only finishing fourth, Hamilton still extends his championship lead to 65 points due to Valtteri Bottas coming home in fifth.

It is now three consecutive victories for Ferrari and a win in Singapore that will prove pivotal for the Scuderia, due to Mercedes and Red Bull being favourites prior to the weekend.

Ferrari will now feel as though they are ready to fight the Silver Arrows in every race, with Russia up next in another back-to-back weekend for Formula One.

What the top three said

Race winner, Sebastian Vettel: “First of all big congratulations to the team, the start of the season has been difficult for us then we started to come alive and I’m really proud of everyone’s work back home.

“It was a late call for the pitstop. I thought it was a bit early because I thought we could make the tyres last in the first stint but then I gave it everything in the outlap and I was surprised to come out ahead.

“I was trying to slice through the traffic and control it at the end, but it didn’t happen with the safety car” he said.

Second placed, Charles Leclerc: “Obviously it is always difficult to lose a win like that but at the end it’s a one-two for the team so I’m happy for that, our first of the season.

“We came here hoping for a podium and came away with a one-two.

“I’m disappointed for me but I will come back stronger. It looks a lot more positive than expected, they’ve (the mechanics) done an amazing job.

“The strategy was fixed at the beginning I stuck to the plan, the most important was that we finished one two” he said.

Third placed, Max Verstappen: “The whole race went well. At the beginning it was really slow and everyone was close together then I started to struggle with the tyres and we boxed and it was a good call.

“We undercut Lewis and from there it was about managing the tyres.

“The safety car restarts were hard because the tyres are cold, but it’s good to be on the podium, there’s lots of things to work on and look at but I’m happy to be up here in the top three” he said.

Edward Hardy

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