Singapore: Sergio Perez won a rain-affected Singapore Grand Prix today meaning his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who finished seventh, must wait at least another week to retain his Formula One world championship.
The Mexican took the chequered flag 7.5sec ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, whose teammate Carlos Sainz was third in the night race that started more than an hour late because of a storm.
Verstappen had a mathematical chance to clinch a second world title in Singapore, but needed to win and have other results go his way.
The Dutchman was always going to struggle after starting eighth on the grid at the Marina Bay Street Circuit but he battled back from a slow start where he dropped to 13th to finish seventh.
It means his world championship lead over Leclerc has been cut to 104 points ahead of next week’s Japanese Grand Prix. Perez is two points behind Leclerc.
Verstappen will need to be 112 points ahead at the end of next Sunday’s race in Suzuka to retain his title.
It means a win will be enough for Verstappen if Leclerc fails to finish second.
“It was certainly my best performance,” Perez said. “I controlled the race. The last three laps were so intense. When I got out of the car, I felt it. I gave everything today.”
Perez was under investigation for an infringement under one of numerous safety car periods during the race, and potentially faces a time penalty that could hand the victory to Ferrari.
“I have no idea what’s going on, they just told me I was under investigation and to increase the gap,” Perez said.
Leclerc started on pole but had a sluggish getaway on intermediate tyres in the slippery conditions allowing Perez to reach the first corner in the lead.
“I pushed all the way,” said Leclerc. “The bad start put us on the back foot and it was a really difficult race after that.
“I need a good night’s sleep and to get ready for Japan.”
Sainz said he felt he could never threaten the front two after he crossed the line 7.7sec behind his teammate.
“It was very tough out there,” Sainz said. “I never really got into a rhythm in the wet and then couldn’t challenge the top two guys.
“I had to settle for P3, but the good thing is I didn’t do any mistakes and could bring the car home and be quick towards the end of the race.”
Lewis Hamilton started third in his Mercedes and lost a place at the start before later slithering into a barrier and finishing ninth.