For the second consecutive season, Kevin Magnussen left the Marina Bay Street Circuit with the fastest lap of the race, but the Dane reckoned points were there for the taking only for them to be denied to him in a cruel manner.
The Haas F1 Team driver had made a super start and was running inside the top ten on merit, but Magnussen felt his afternoon was heavily compromised by the regular intervention of the safety car, which made it more difficult to maintain his track position.
He was still inside the top ten after the third safety car but a plastic bag attaching itself to his front wing compromised his evening, and he fell away from the points. He ultimately made a pit stop to clear the bag and switch tyres, a move that gave him the fastest lap but also a seventeenth-place finish.
However, it was points Magnussen was after, particularly after a strong-looking Singapore Grand Prix.
“Unfortunately setting the fastest lap wasn’t worth anything for me,” said Magnussen. “We were fighting in the top ten but got unlucky with the safety cars.
“We’d been working so hard, we were doing such a good job to get into the top ten on merit – it was not with luck or lucky pitstops or anything. We had a good first lap and good pace in the car. Then we just had all these safety cars work against us.
“On top of that we had a plastic bag over the front wing, we had to pit to remove that. It was a disaster from there. I really feel bad as it had been a good race and the whole team did such a good job, then we get it taken away from us in a cruel way.”
Team-mate Romain Grosjean also missed out on the points in eleventh after running a different strategy to Magnussen. The Frenchman started towards the back of the pack and was part of the midfield scrap for some of the race, but the lack of pace in the closing laps hurt him badly.
Despite Antonio Giovinazzi earning a ten-second time penalty ahead of him, he was unable to claim that final point by being more than sixteen seconds behind at the chequered flag as he lost two-to-three seconds per lap over the last few tours.
Grosjean was also involved in an incident with Williams Racing’s George Russell that left him requiring a pit stop for a replacement front wing, with the Frenchman feeling he did as much as he could to avoid the contact that ultimately left his rival crunched against the wall.
“We weren’t far from points,” said Grosjean. “Kevin (Magnussen) was having a great race at the beginning, he was in the top ten when I was struggling more at the back.
“We tried a different strategy – staying out very long on the medium tires. We were waiting for the safety car, which then actually came when I had the contact with George (Russell). I need to see the footage, but I was as left as I could be at the exit of the corner. When there’s no run-off area, there’s nowhere to go, so I touched the wall and we touched there – there was no more room for me to go left.
“We came back in the race towards the end with the other safety car periods. We battled as hard as we could, but we just had too much tyre degradation at one point, so the last few laps were a bit emotional.”
Despite both of his drivers missing out on the points, Team Principal Guenther Steiner said there were positives and some optimism to take away from Singapore, with the performance of the two cars much better than it had been in the previous two events. He felt bad luck denied both drivers the chance of a top ten finish, but it is up to them to keep their heads up and push forward across the remaining six races of 2019.
“Obviously, it was an exciting race for us,” said Steiner. “In the end we didn’t get any points, but all-in-all I think everybody did a good job.
“We got a little bit unlucky, but it was a lot better than the last two races. If somebody had said that to me before the race I wouldn’t have believed them. We don’t have any points, we finished 11th and 17th, sometimes we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I think the team did a good job. We keep our heads up, we keep going, and I know it will come back to us.”