The Singapore GP was meant to be the start of a Ferrari resurgence, one that was absolutely needed after Hamilton had taken a 30 point lead at the top of the driver’s standings.
Ferrari looked to be on course during free practice as they were fastest on the grid. However, Hamilton dished out one of the laps of the season to comprehensively beat Vettel and Raikkonen. Moreover, Ferrari were so off the pace, that Vettel couldn’t even get onto the front row, with Verstappen out pacing him during qualifying.
Vettel thus was up against it on raceday, as the Marina Bay track does not favour overtaking.
However, Vettel did manage to overtake Verstappen on lap 1, increasing Ferrari’s chances of a win, considering the fact that they had the faster package(at least on paper).
But a botched up strategy on part of Ferrari meant that Verstappen came out ahead of Vettel after the Red Bull driver’s pitstop and Vettel had to settle for 3rd place.
A radio message from Hamilton suggested that his tyres were holding up well, but Vettel and his engineer felt that Hamilton and Mercedes were bluffing.
Thus, Vettel was brought into the pits, in an attempt to send him out on fresh tyres and stay out in front of Hamilton, after the Brit pits.
However, the strategy did not quite work out for Ferrari as Hamilton came out way in front of Vettel.
Here are the radio messages for the same:
Engineer- Hamilton reporting there is not a lot left on these tyres. Is what he’s reported.
Vettel- I don’t believe him.
E- Me too
V- I don’t believe him. He’s going very slow
E- Copy. Watch for Verstappen he’s one second before
E- Hamilton is pushing. Hamilton lap time 45.5. He’s pushing now. 2.1 second in front. Engine three
E- You matched his pace 44.9. Gap to Hamilton 2.4
E-When you can just let us know for tyres. And engine 1. Hamilton three seconds. Box, Sebastian for option. Engine 1, everything you have in the out-lap. Perez in front, seven seconds, track is clear. Hamilton is coming in. All you have. K12 last corner. Use K1. Be very tight
V- Not tight at all. He’s safe
V- Missing two seconds
E- Back to engine three. And cool down the brakes, rears. Easy on brakes
During Verstappen’s pit stop, the radio messages suggested that Ferrari had made an error in judgement.
E- OK push now. Close with Verstappen, close with Verstappen, he’s pitting now. K1 on the straights, fight with Verstappen, exiting the pits
V- OK, no chance, we were again too late
E- OK, copy, easy on brakes
V- These tyres will not make it to the end
V- Is there anybody else tight or that I should know about before it’s too late?
E- Not at the moment. Bottas two seconds behind
V- Verstappen has managed to undercut Vettel so Verstappen 5.3, he’s the car behind. Still have two cars ahead yet to stop
Ferrari clealry misunderstood the situation, trying to read too much into the radio messages of Hamilton and Mercedes.
These errors in judgement have been costing Ferrari vital points in the title race, a title that looks slightly out of their reach now.