Carlos Sainz is the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix winner
Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore - For the first time in the 2023 Formula 1 season, the tifosi have reason to celebrate. After starting from pole position following his spectacular qualifying showcase, Carlos Sainz of Scuderia Ferrari finishes P1 and takes the top spot on the podium.
The Spanish driver, affectionally called the “Smooth Operator”, started the race in excellent form maintaining his lead at the front of the grid which he held on for all 62 laps of the race. This is Sainz’s second career win after his previous win at Silverstone in 2022, and it also marks Red Bull’s first non-victory for 2023 - putting an end to Red Bull’s 15-win streak and Max Verstappen’s ten consecutive win record.
With both Ferraris beginning with a 1-2 start and the Mercedes of George Russell hot on their tail, the race began with a dramatic start as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes went wide at turn 1 and exited the track before rejoining the pack ahead of his teammate and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Further down on the grid order, a scuffle between Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri and Sergio Perez’s Red Bull saw the Japanese driver end his race prematurely owing to a puncture.
On lap 20, Logan Sergeant’s Williams went into the barriers after going wide at turn 8, bringing out the safety car which saw 13 of the remaining 18 drivers on the grid pit for fresher tyres. Unfortunately for Ferrari, Charles Leclerc tumbled down to 6th after being held back in the pit lane due to traffic.
Following the majority of the grid pitting en masse, Verstappen rises up the ranks to come in P2, before his older hard compound tyres relegated him to 6th. The Dutchman started suffering under his 32-lap old tyres and subsequently pitted for a new set of mediums on lap 40 before continuing his charge.
Lap 42 saw Esteban Ocon’s Alpine suffer from gearbox issues, putting him out of the running for the race. Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo C43 also fell out of the running due to overheating issues.
The top four drivers battled it out at the front of the grid. In a genius move on Sainz’s part, the Spanish driver on older hard tyres deliberately dropped his pace to enable Lando in P2 to come within 0.8 seconds of him, thus enabling DRS for his ex-teammate - a move that allowed the Ferrari and McLaren to stay ahead of the two Mercedes drivers on newer medium compound tyres.
As the race with no shortage of drama entered its final lap, George Russell kept on the heels of Lando Norris in P2 before clipping the wall and sending the Mercedes into the barriers, resulting in a DNF for the Briton. Carlos Sainz kept his lead as he crossed the finish line with Lando Norris eight-tenths of a second behind and Hamilton over a full second behind. Charles Leclerc finishes 4th, which isn’t his best performance but certainly wasn’t his worst.
Perhaps the Singapore GP is the Achilles heel of Max Verstappen’s dominance over the grid all year, with the Dutchman failing to qualify in Q3 and ending the race in 5th. It’s worth remembering that Verstappen is still leading the WDC with 374 points, 151 points ahead of Sergio Perez. With 597 points, Red Bull is still leading the constructor’s championship with a staggering 308-point lead over Mercedes.
As it stands, Red Bull has a very realistic shot of winning the constructor’s championship in Suzuka - as long as they outperform Mercedes and don’t get outscored by Ferrari. It all depends on whether the “Flying Dutchman” and the “King of the streets” can come back stronger during the Japanese Grand Prix next week.
PHOTOS Singapore GP Pte Ltd.