By MARK LORENZANA
Mexican Formula 1 (F1) racer Sergio “Checo” Pérez took first place in a rain-soaked Singaporean Grand Prix, even after receiving a five-second penalty after the race. F1 race stewards launched an investigation hours later for an alleged safety-car violation by Pérez.
Checo led most of the way the entire race, which was not only delayed and marred by a torrential downpour, but also proved to be problematic at best, with several collisions and multiple disruptions by safety-car and virtual safety-car appearances throughout.
Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. took second and third places, respectively, joining Pérez on the podium.
Early on in the race, Pérez managed to overtake Leclerc to take the lead, while Sainz moved ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to take third position.
The race restarted at the beginning of lap 11, after Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu’s car was hit by Williams Racing’s Nicholas Latifi. Zhou was forced to retire from the race, while Latifi would later be penalized for the collision.
A second restart on lap 40 was prompted by a collision onto a barrier by Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, which brought out another safety car.
The racing stewards announced that Checo would be investigated after the race for allegedly breaching a safety-car procedure before the second restart. Pérez’s team had instructed him to try to get as big a lead as he could versus the second-placed car — which at that moment was Leclerc — to make up for a potential penalty, and the Mexican driver responded to Red Bull’s orders with a new fastest lap.
Checo received a five-second penalty, which was announced hours after the race, but the sanction did not have any bearing on the result as the Mexican driver was 7.5 seconds ahead of Leclerc when he captured the checkered flag.
The stewards said in a statement that Pérez did not respect the maximum regulatory distance with the safety car — a distance of 10 cars — in the two restarts. Checo received a reprimand in the first restart, and a subsequent penalty of five seconds in the second restart.