In a thrilling turn of events at the Singapore GP, Carlos Sainz drove an intelligent race to end Red Bull‘s season-long dominance – seeing the first time of the 2023 Formula 1 season where the Austrian team didn’t reach the top step. Sainz’s impressive performance from start to finish not only secured his triumph but also marked Ferrari’s return to the winner’s circle since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.
From the moment the lights went out, Carlos Sainz took his pole position and never relinquished the lead. However, victory was far from certain as Mercedes made a late charge, taking advantage of fresh tires. The pivotal moment of the race came when a virtual safety car period was deployed following Esteban Ocon’s Alpine experiencing a loss of power on the pit straight, forcing him to stop between Turns 2 and 3.
Mercedes seized the opportunity to pit both their drivers – George Russell, who was in second place, and Lewis Hamilton, who was in fourth. They opted for a set of fresh medium compound Pirelli tires, while the other frontrunners remained on aging hard tires, hoping to make them last until the end.
Russell and Hamilton then swiftly overtook Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. With a few laps left, they closed the gap on the leading pair of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Despite lapping 1-1.5 seconds faster at times, the Mercedes drivers found themselves unable to pass Norris, thanks in part to Sainz strategically allowing Norris to gain the DRS (Drag Reduction System) advantage from the Ferrari, thereby aiding in keeping the Mercedes at bay.
The dramatic climax occurred on the final lap when Russell’s race came to a crashing end, as he clipped the wall with his right-front wheel before the Turn 10 braking zone. This unfortunate incident secured Sainz’s victory, with Norris and Hamilton completing the podium.
Leclerc managed to hold onto fourth place, edging out Max Verstappen, who charged through the field in his Red Bull, despite it being their worst weekend of the season.
Leclerc’s race took a twist when Ferrari decided to double-stack their drivers in the pits, resulting in a loss of track position. The race’s only full safety car period was triggered when Logan Sargeant’s Williams made contact with the wall, leading to a round of pit stops and a condensation of the field.
Ultimately, the strategy paid off for Carlos Sainz and Ferrari, securing their victory in Singapore.
Verstappen salvaged a respectable result despite the challenges Red Bull faced over the weekend. The RB19 struggled with ride height issues, reverted to an older floor specification, and dealt with a stiffer suspension setup than originally planned during practice. Nevertheless, Verstappen climbed from 11th on the grid to run eighth before the pit stop phase began.
Red Bull opted to start both their drivers on hard compound tires, while most of the field started on mediums. Unfortunately, the timing of the Ocon virtual safety car made it impossible for Red Bull to extend their stints on the hard tires, causing Verstappen to plummet to 15th after his pit stop. He later used fresher medium tires to make an impressive comeback into the top six.
Sergio Perez finished eighth, but an incident with Alex Albon’s Williams during the VSC pit exit is under investigation. Pierre Gasly’s Alpine and Oscar Piastri’s McLaren secured seventh place and Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri’s stand-in driver, earned his first F1 points by finishing ninth. Kevin Magnussen of Haas rounded out the points scorers in 10th.