Sebastian Vettel rolled back the years in his final Singapore Grand Prix, after achieving an excellent eighth place finish at a circuit he has such a special relationship with.
The German driver made an astonishing start in conditions which probably reminded him of 2017, where himself, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen all collided after launching from the line.
The retiring 35-year-old who started P14, worked his way through to ninth by the exit of Turn Five, after appearing to have substantially better grip than those around him.
The German explained the importance of being “aggressive at the start” and revealed how he knew he could make rapid progress on the opening lap.
“I knew I had to be aggressive at the start,” Vettel said.
“First patience, then I started pushing. In the formation lap I looked at different lines and that worked well.”
Vettel quickly settled into the race towards the bottom of the points, at the circuit where he’s achieved eight podiums, including, an unmatched five victories.
The Aston Martin driver was unlucky to have made his only pit-stop two laps before a full Safety Car after Yuki Tsunoda crashed, which allowed both McLaren drivers to make a cheap pit-stop having not come in for their switch to dry tyres.
Vettel arguably didn’t quite have the pace to challenge the McLarens in the end but did manage to fend of Sir Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race.
Hamilton tumbled down the points places after crashing at Turn Seven, resulting in a lengthy pit-stop which dropped the seven-time World Champion behind the four-time World Champion.
Hamilton tried for all the world to find a way past, but ultimately made a mistake in the closing two minutes of the race whilst trying to overtake the German.
Vettel was unfortunately overtaken by Max Verstappen on the final lap, which dropped the Aston Martin driver to eighth.
After two frustrating races, it was a much-welcomed return to the points for Vettel; however, in the media pen after the race he seemed disappointed with the result.
He recognised that he had no chance at keeping Verstappen behind, who was “like an arrow”.
“At the end I was a bit stuck and couldn’t put pressure on the guys in front of me,” added the German.
“The drivers behind me were much faster. Max shot past me like an arrow”
With the much-loved driver having only five races remaining now in his illustrious Formula 1 career, there is every chance that his points finish at Singapore could be the last of his final season.
Vettel has claimed seven points finishes from the 17 completed races this year, with three of those having come in the last five races.
Next year’s Singapore GP won’t seem the same without the circuit’s most successful driver, who would’ve loved to have finished higher than eighth.
His retirement has come at a time when Aston Martin aren’t capable of battling for podiums and victories, something the former Red Bull driver is known to miss.
Whether he’ll ever return to the sport in an ambassadorial role remains to be seen; however, it would be a sensible guess to predict that he’ll be seen in Singapore again.