Sergio Perez held off Charles Leclerc in the Singapore Grand Prix to claim the win. (F1 photo)

Perez Holds Off Leclerc In Singapore

SINGAPORE — After waiting out an hour-long rain delay for the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, Sergio Perez expertly maneuvered his way around the Marina Bay Street Circuit to claim his first victory at the track.

The Red Bull Racing driver held off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, finishing 7.595 seconds ahead of the second-place championship contender.

“I am so happy to get this victory for me and my team, it means a lot to me,” Perez said. “I haven’t been on the podium the last couple of races but I was always working under the radar and making big noises behind the scenes, so I am super proud of the performance today. Mentally it was tough and you had to stay alert for the whole race. It was super tricky in the conditions out there today and people underestimate how difficult it is to drive in those, going through the final sector was so hard. There was a bit of miscommunication with the safety car I think, he was going really fast in places where I couldn’t keep up with him and then slowing where I could go fast. We were driving on slicks in the wet trying to keep the temperature and that is difficult. When they told me I was under investigation I just pushed like qualifying for 15 laps to get as big a gap as possible to Charles.”

However, Perez is currently under investigation for passing the Safety Car before the second restart, with official results to be determined.

Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz, rounded out the podium.  

While Leclerc began the race from the pole, Perez was quickest off the start and slid into the lead on the first lap. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who was third on the grid, fell to fourth while defending champion Max Verstappen mounted a charge from eighth.

As the race progressed, several incidents — involving Nicholas Latifi, Zhou Guanyu, Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda — came into play, causing several key restarts.

By the final restart on lap 39, Verstappen had made his way to the front of the field and was preparing to pass Lando Norris in fourth when his brakes locked up and sent him off the track.

Verstappen finished seventh, while McLaren drivers Norris and Daniel Ricciardo secured fourth and fifth.

Hamilton came home in ninth place.  

“I think we started off with a pretty decent weekend and it was just really unfortunate at the end, no matter how hard I was trying it was just not possible to overtake,” Hamilton said. “It’s a shame we didn’t manage to secure more points today. But we live, we learn and we will recover.”

Verstappen holds a 104-point advantage over Leclerc in the standings.