Ferrari's strategy on Sebastian Vettel reflected the confusion that reigns supreme since he started corkscrewing into a spiral of costly errors this summer. On the German was employed a one-stopper featuring an early entrance into the pits to switch from HS to US tyres. Getting stuck behind an utterly frustrated Sergio Perez did not help, considering that the SF71H was totally unable to express its full potential on Pirelli's purple-banded tyre.
Vettel's race pace floated around two or three seconds slower than frontrunners Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen halfway through the race, before the pack closed the gap almost completely. However, Vettel was not endowed with any aces upon his sleeves, whereas Hamilton shone bright after taking profit from yesterday's flawless qualifying.
At the FIA press conference, Vettel explained his and Ferrari's aim was to act as much aggressively as possible towards Mercedes, even trying an undercut which in the end did not work. Lewis Hamilton now holds a 40-point lead on the Ferrari driver, which needs to bounce back without any faults for the remainder of the season.
Vettel did not try and find any excuses: "We tried something and couldn't make up any ground today. Mercedes did a good job yesterday. I don't think we were chanceless yesterday."
"My communication with the debriefs have been better then it has ever been. For months we knew it would be difficult but we have been working hard. We have improved with the tyres"
"Everyone has been working very hard and I am happy that we can achieve a result like this. If you look at this track." he added.
Max Verstappen brought home a pleasing P2, complying with his excellent qualifying performance yesterday. His fight against Hamilton came alive when lapped Grosjean and Sirotkin were fighting as well, which allowed the two race leaders to get closer. However, both did not leave enough space, which definitely thwarted any efforts for the two to keep racing fully focused.
At the beginning Vettel overtook the Dutchman, but in the end the youngster prevailed, also due to the German's debatable strategy. "The team gave me a good strategy and we got the position back. It was not fair to try it with Lewis. He was held up again." said Verstappen.
Regarding the gear stalls he experiences throughout the race, he commented: "I don't know what happened in the pitstop. I could not short shift. I had to keep the revvs up before changing".
Nevertheless, Singapore was a positive leg for Red Bull, although Renault's C-Spec is causing several headaches to the the Anglo-Austrian team.
Head on to Russia with three question marks.
1. Will Ferrari and Vettel get over their shortcomings and blunders?
2. How will Hamilton manage its 40-point lead?
3. Who will emerge at the top at Sochi, where the teams will be introducing some more upgrades?