Could F1 have its sixth different winner in China in last six years?

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The Chinese Grand Prix has thrown up a few surprises to win over the last five years, with five different drivers taking the win.

In 2009, it was Sebastian Vettel, scoring the first win for the Red Bull team. McLaren won in 2010 and 2011 with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, respectively, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg capturing his first career win in 2012 and Ferrari emerging on top with Fernando Alonso last year.

On pure pace for 2014, you’d have to say Hamilton or Rosberg will once again take it for Mercedes and end the run of different winners at the Shanghai International Circuit.

But if you’re looking for a spoiler, just look to any of the finishers from P3-P8 in Bahrain.

Daniel Ricciardo has emerged as a worthy teammate to Vettel at Red Bull thus far; the Force India squad scored a podium with Sergio Perez and a second straight top five with Nico Hulkenberg; Williams was in podium position with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas before the safety car. And if Vettel were to win, it would keep up the five winners in five years stat.

Ferrari, meanwhile, seem less likely to pull the upset. Raikkonen won in 2007 but only after Hamilton ran aground in the pit lane in the penultimate round of the season.

We’ll see if the field has closed the gap to the Mercedes this weekend.

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

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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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.