Hamilton pleased with pace despite car failure

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Lewis Hamilton may have finished Free Practice 2 in the gravel following a car failure late on in the session, but the British driver is pleased with the pace of his Mercedes W04 heading into the first race of the 2013 Formula One season.

“The real thing is that we are competitive. I am massively excited to be up there. To be as competitive as we are today is a real plus.

“It’s too early to say if a podium is possible. Red Bull are quick, the Ferraris are quick, and Lotus are up there. I’m not sure what is happening with the McLarens but I’m sure they will fix it because they are a brilliant team.”

Hamilton’s off at the end of FP2 was caused by a damaged front splitter, yet many believed that the 2008 world champion had made a mistake, including Lewis himself.

“I thought to myself, ‘what an idiot’, but when I got back they explained to me that the front of the bib underneath the chassis was broken.

“I had separation of the front splitter, so it was pushed right up underneath and touching the underneath of the chassis. I lost a lot of front end. I went into turn six, turned in and nothing really happened, I just went straight on.”

Mercedes have shown strong pace in both practice sessions, with Nico Rosberg finishing third in FP2, and Hamilton managed to end up seventh despite the car failure. Although Mercedes’ pace does not match that of winter testing, they have clearly made a step forward since the end of last season, and they will be keen to start well in Australia to set the tone for the rest of the year.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.