His tires were smoking and he could only steer his car into the run-off zone of the narrow street circuit in Singapore. The Dutchman gave away a better placement with a bad braking error during an alleged overtaking maneuver against McLaren driver Lando Norris.

In the end it was only enough for the championship leader to finish seventh. His teammate Sergio Perez won ahead of Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. Perez threatens to lose the victory. An investigation against the Mexican was announced shortly before the end because he could have violated the safety car rules. “That is how it goes. That’s the Mexican way of driving,” Perez said happily at first on the radio. In any case, the decision in the World Championship classification has been postponed at least until the race in Japan next weekend. Verstappen leads (341 points) comfortably in front of Leclerc (237).

It was already clear on Saturday that it would be difficult on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. In qualifying on Saturday, his team had given him too little fuel in the decisive run, and Verstappen had to turn into the pits in his last fast lap, completely frustrated.

He only started from eighth place and initially had problems. At the start, which was postponed by more than an hour due to heavy rain, Verstappen fell back to twelfth place and had to work his way through the field bit by bit on the circuit with few overtaking opportunities. After five laps he was ninth. At the front, Perez steered his car faster into the first corner than Leclerc, who started on pole.

The duo pulled away by more than seven seconds. Verstappen was already almost 30 seconds behind when the safety car had to go out for the first time. Williams driver Nicholas Latifi had overlooked Guanyu Zhou in the Alfa Romeo and thus caused the Chinese to end prematurely.

That was good for Verstappen, who was able to work his way forward more easily after the race was restarted. First the defending champion grabbed Vettel, then Pierre Gasly – and was already seventh. However, it was not so easy for him to get past the former Spanish world champion Fernando Alonso, who in his 350th Grand Prix became the driver with the most Formula 1 race starts. The problem was only solved when Alonso’s engine went on strike and the 41-year-old retired.

Departures into the barriers by Alexander Albon and Esteban Ocon brought further delays, so there was hardly any real flow of the race. Record world champion Lewis Hamilton also came off the course in fourth place and suddenly found himself directly in front of Verstappen with a defective front wing. Ferrari risked a lot when Leclerc was first in the lead group to switch to medium dry tires after 35 laps, followed shortly afterwards by Perez and Verstappen.

With the new tires, the Grand Prix would have been almost over for Verstappen. He ruined his tires when he braked. “I have to pit,” he radioed – and fell back to 13th place. Teammate Perez had to defend himself against the combative Leclerc and was successful until the end, Verstappen finally just made it into the points. Haas driver Mick Schumacher missed the points again in 13th place. He was on course for points for a long time before colliding with George Russell and being forced to pit.