Sainz won the Singapore Grand Prix to end Red Bull Racing’s 15-race winning streak, with the Ferrari driver beating Lando Norris to the flag as the leading pair held off a late-race Mercedes charge that left Lewis Hamilton with third place following a final-lap crash for George Russell. Championship leader Max Verstappen was forced to settle for fifth place at the flag.
“An incredible feeling, an incredible weekend,” said Sainz. “I want to thank everyone in Ferrari for making this huge effort to turn around and manage to win this season after a tricky beginning.
“But now we nailed the weekend, we nailed the race… Everything that we had to do, we did perfect, and we brought home a P1 that I’m sure all Italy, all Ferrari, is going to be proud and happy today.”
At the start, Sainz led from pole, while Ferrari team-mate Leclerc, starting from third on the grid, got a good start on Soft tires to steal P2 from Russell as they went into Turn 1. Behind the top three, Norris held fourth place on the approach to Turn 1, but behind him Hamilton launched an overambitious attack from P5 and he cut the corner, emerging in third behind the Ferraris. The Briton soon handed the places back.
Further back, Verstappen, starting on Hard tires, was soon up to P10 after AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson dropped back to 12th at the start and he then passed the Haas cars of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, to move to eighth place by the start of lap 7.
Sainz, meanwhile, was controlling the race well. On lap 10, the Spaniard led team-mate Leclerc by 1.3s, with Russell a further 1.5s behind in third place. Norris held fourth ahead of Hamilton and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, while Esteban Ocon in seventh was coming under pressure from Max who was just 0.8s behind.
The race now became a tactical battle ahead of the first pit stop window, with the Ferrari drivers lapping slowly to protect their tires and bunching the field behind. And with no real gaps to drop into the benefit of an undercut was diminished.
The stalemate was broken on lap 20 when Williams’ Logan Sargent lost control in Turn 8 and hit the barriers. He was able to get going but with his front wing trapped under his car, debris began to break off and as the American made it back to the pit lane, the Safety Car was deployed.
The top seven cars all immediately dived into the pits. The Hard tire shod Red Bulls stayed out and when Sainz emerged in the lead, Verstappen was in P2, ahead of Russell, with Perez in P4, ahead of Norris and Leclerc who had lost time and position during the pit stops when he was held in his box because of traffic.
The Safety Car left the track at the end of lap 22 and Sainz controlled the re-start well to keep Verstappen at bay. The Red Bull drivers were only flirting with the top spots, however, and over the course of the following laps their aged Hard tires began to fade badly and they fell back to the lower half of the top 10.
At half distance, Sainz led Russell by just 0.8 seconds with Norris 0.7s further back. Hamilton was right on the McLaren driver’s tail, while Leclerc was two seconds behind the second Mercedes.
Pérez made his sole pit stop at the end of lap 39, followed on the next lap by Verstappen. They rejoined with Verstappen in P15 and Pérez two places further back.
On lap 43, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon lost power and pulled over at close to the pit exit, triggering a Virtual Safety Car. Williams’ Alex Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu both headed for the pits, as did Russell and Hamilton, Mercedes stacking their pit stop and gambling on having greater pace than the cars ahead in the final stages.
On lap 52, Sainz led Norris by 1.4s, with Leclerc almost five seconds behind the McLaren. Following their stop under the VSC, Russell, lapping over a second quicker than Leclerc was just 1.2 seconds behind the Monegasque driver, with Hamilton just behind. And on lap 54 the Mercedes drivers pounced, both powering past Leclerc who was defenseless on much older Hard tires.
With pace in abundance the Mercedes pair began to close in on Norris and Sainz, but the lead Ferrari driver was alive to the threat and he cleverly allowed Norris to stay within DRS range to boost the McLaren driver’s chances against Russell.
Russell’s patience and precision ran out of the final lap. The Englishman closed up to Norris but when the McLaren driver clipped the wall, the Mercedes man followed his line too closely and hit the wall harder. He arrowed off track and up an escape road in a shower of sparks, his race over.
And a few hundred feet later, having nursed his tires through each stint and driven a smart, tactically astute race, Sainz crossed the line to take his second grand prix win ahead of Norris and Hamilton.
“That little bit of extra stress [at the end] I didn’t want and didn’t need,” Sainz said. “But wins never come easy and today we had a bit of everything and we had to fight for it, we had to be strategic, we had to nail everything, we had to commit to our plans and it worked and now we are on a win that tastes really, really well.”
Leclerc was left with fourth place, but behind him Red Bull staged a late race recovery that saw Verstappen rise from 15th after his pit stop to fifth at the flag ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri. Pérez, went on a charge, muscling through to P8, though the Mexican driver was summoned to the stewards after the race after appearing to elbow Albon off track as he moved through the order. Lawson took two well-earned points for AlphaTauri and the final point on offer went to Magnussen.
Verstappen still holds a sizable lead in the driver’s championship.
“I had quite a bit of fun out there but two times the Safety Car didn’t help us,” said Verstappen. “The first one was at the wrong point [in the lap to pit] and then also the second one also came again at the wrong point for us, so a bit of a shame. But I had fun on the second stint – I think we were quite fast on that medium compound.
“We went on the alternate strategy and then you need to hope that it all works in your favor. Today I think it didn’t but that happens sometimes. Overall, the car was a little bit better in the race again, which I guess is the most important.”
Red Bull will now try and figure out what happened and how to move forward.
“I think we’ll be quick in Suzuka,” Verstappen said. “We really have to understand this weekend, but Suzuka is of course a completely different track layout.”
FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 2023 – RACE RESULT
|5||1||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||62||+21.441s||10|
|8||11||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||62||+54.534s||4|
|9||40||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||62||+65.918s||2|
|12||24||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||62||+83.649s||0|
|15||14||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||62||+87.603s||0|
|NC||77||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||51||DNF||0|
|NC||22||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||0||DNF||0|
Note – Hamilton scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race. Perez received a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.
- Caraganza First Drive Review 2019 BMW Z4: New and improved …no really - September 24, 2023
- Max Verstappen wins F1 Japanese GP as Red Bull clinches second consecutive Constructors’ title - September 24, 2023
- He’s back: Verstappen takes pole for F1 Japanese GP - September 23, 2023