Mexican driver Checo Pérez celebrates his victory in Singapore this Sunday. MOHD RASFAN (AFP)
Checo Pérez shone on the Singapore night. The Mexican has added his fourth win in tough Formula One after surviving a survival race at the Asian circuit. The Red Bull man managed to hold off Charles Leclerc and claim victory in an eventful race with six retired drivers. The Mexican’s performance was more than seven and a half seconds off his competitor. Carlos Sainz completed the podium. “The last three laps were very intense, I pushed everything to win,” said the Mexican. That’s the Mexican way! [de ganar]!” he added.
The Mexican rider had a great score by finishing second, 22 thousandths of a second behind Leclerc. City circuits like Monaco, Azerbaijan and this one in Singapore have been good for him, although this Sunday everything with a twisty course has increased the difficulty. The race was postponed by an hour due to rain that made the track wet. Pérez started more alert than ever to win position from Ferrari and take the lead; Verstappen, who had started eighth, dropped back to eleventh place. Near the eighth lap, a collision between Zhou’s and Latifi’s cars caused a safety car. And yes: the moment of tension returned. The Mexican had already lost the podium this season due to a distraction at the restart of the race, but not this Sunday. Checo Pérez pushed hard to keep up with Leclerc.
The race for Pérez started to get into a momentum where he had to keep the pace, watch the tires and be on the defensive Ferrari strategy. Red Bull started to take up to two seconds from Leclerc and more than 10 seconds from Sainz. On lap 21, the Alpine’s engine was frustrating Fernando Alonso’s race, keeping all the teams on edge as they didn’t know whether to change the wet tires. George Russell did and as he returned to the tarmac the Mercedes skidded. Another shock came when Albon crashed into the wall without much violence, although the question remained whether there would be any possibility of changing the tyres. The shock streak continued when Esteban Ocon left the race before the first 30 laps. And not even the teams dared to call their drivers into the garage.
Checo Pérez won a race that was delayed by an hour due to rain. CAROLINE CHIA (Portal)
In lap 35 the movement began. Leclerc changed tires one lap ahead of Checo Pérez. It was the key moment of the race with a 2.8 second standstill. The Mexican was still in the lead when he returned to the track. The Japanese Tsunoda crashed into the guard rails and caused the safety car, from which few benefited. At the restart, Red Bull had to fight back and start over to build an advantage against Leclerc. The stewards stopped the race while investigating the Mexican for breaking the safety car rules, which if they made the punishment official would mean a five-second penalty.
The last 25 minutes was a direct battle between Pérez and Leclerc. The Guadalajara pride struggled to placate the Monegasque and also with the car’s traction. The confrontation was prolonged thanks to the Mexican’s defense and until one of Leclerc’s mistakes, they opened the door for him to become more than a leader. Pérez managed to take seven seconds off the Ferrari. A complete win to add to his successes at Sakhir 2020, Azerbaijan 2021 and Monaco this year, cementing him as the best rider in Mexican history. After the win, Pérez is third with 235 points, two behind Leclerc. Verstappen continues to lead with 341 units despite seventh place this Sunday.
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