Carlos Sainz won a thrilling 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, as he survived late pressure from Mercedes to deliver his and Ferrari‘s first Formula 1 victory in over a year.
Sainz started from pole and controlled the opening stint, despite an early safety car caused by Logan Sargeant‘s crash. The Spanish driver continued to hold on but the picture changed drastically when a virtual safety car was triggered as Esteban Ocon retired.
That put Silver Arrows on the hunt on fresh tyres, and they rapidly closed in on the front two, but were denied thanks to an incredible display of presence of mind by Sainz; who slowed to give Norris DRS, protecting the pair of them and securing his win.
Russell crashed out on the final lap via an unforced error, allowing Lewis Hamilton to inherit third place – a 196th career podium.
The result saw the end of Red Bull‘s 15 race winning run, which set a new F1 record but world champion, Max Verstappen, managed to salvage 5th place to extend his championship lead over Sergio Perez.
Without further ado, here are Total-Motorsport.com‘s Singapore GP winners and losers:
Winner: Carlos Sainz and Ferrari
Sainz delivered his second career win and Ferrari‘s first since Austria 2022 as he expertly managed his race and showed he was thinking well ahead of his competitors throughout.
From the first laps of the race he and his team had George Russell almost exactly where they wanted him, but even when the odds tumbled in favour of the British driver on Lap 42 Sainz‘s inspired DRS trick showed he was one lap ahead of anyone else on the circuit in the mental battle.
For Ferrari, this is a race they anticipated they would be competitive at and they have shown a significant march of progress since the Miami GP when they were struggling to understand their car.
That’s now a third podium in four races for the team, who currently appear to be second fastest and are closing in on Mercedes in the battle for the runners-up spot behind Red Bull.
They look to confirm their upgrades are working at the Japanese GP, but Sunday’s race was undoubtedly a statement that Ferrari are on their way back.
Loser: Red Bull
Given how dominant Red Bull have been this season, few would have predicted Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez finishing 5th and 8th respectively.
While the two drivers did battle back in the closing stages, it was far from an ideal weekend for the Milton Keynes outfit.
Their struggles on Friday and Saturday were evident, as the car just looked unbalanced around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Granted, the timing of the safety car in Sunday’s race couldn’t have been worse, ultimately dashing Red Bull’s hopes of challenging the front runners.
Then there was Sergio Perez and his incidents with Yuki Tsunoda and a five-second penalty for colliding with Alex Albon, which ultimately didn’t cost the Mexican and the team any points after the race.
Nevertheless, Red Bull will be keen to show Singapore was a one-off at the next race in Suzuka.
Winner: Liam Lawson
Liam Lawson had already impressed in qualifying when made Q3 and eliminated Max Verstappen from the session and he went one better in the race to secure the first points of his budding F1 career, finishing in 9th place.
For large parts of the contest, he kept Sergio Perez at bay in a faster Red Bull car demonstrating that he is ready for a full-time drive in the sport. Perez did eventually get by, but only finished six seconds ahead of the rookie, highlighting the impressive drive by the 21-year-old.
Lawson‘s feat is even more notable once the brutal conditions of the Singapore GP are factored in, as drivers race for 62 laps in humid, hot temperatures that can see them lose kilograms in water weight.
Add in that he is now just one point behind Yuki Tsunoda after three races in the AT04, he’s putting in a big claim for the full-time drive at AlphaTauri for 2024.
Loser: Aston Martin
The Silverstone outfit will be happy to say goodbye to Singapore after a disastrous Sunday.
It all started to go sour when Lance Stroll crashed in Q1 on Saturday, leaving his car broken after slamming into the barriers.
Stroll managed to get out of the car without aid and was deemed fit by the medical team, however, the after-effects proved too much so he sat out the race in order to recover for the Japanese GP.
As a result Fernando Alonso was the lone Aston Martin on the grid on Sunday, though given how his race spiralled out of control, he might have been hoping he sat out as well.
The Spaniard picked up a needless penalty for crossing the pitlane entry line, a penalty he served during a pit stop that lasted over 25 seconds due to a problem with the right-rear.
He was also passed by former teammate Esteban Ocon, and later went wide at Turn 14 which dropped him to last. In the end Alonso finished the race outside the points, dropping him out of the top three in the championship for the first time this season.
A weekend to forget for everyone at Aston Martin would be putting it lightly.
Winner: Oscar Piastri
Oscar Piastri‘s weekend suffered a huge blow when Lance Stroll red-flagged the first part of qualifying, with the Australian in the bottom five and seconds away from completing his lap.
Starting 17th Piastri kept his head down and kept out of trouble to drive home to 7th, just three seconds behind Pierre Gasly when he took the flag.
Like Lawson, Piastri also experienced his first F1 race in the testing conditions of Singapore, and handled them with expert athleticism.
It’s worth nothing that the rookie did not get the new upgrade package for Marina Bay and achieved his comeback drive with an old-spec car that McLaren didn’t expect to offer much.
Piastri scored his fourth points finish in six races since Silverstone and closed to within five points of Lance Stroll‘s Aston Martin in the standings as he continues to display one of the finest debut seasons in recent memory.
Loser: George Russell
Mercedes looked to have pulled off a strategic masterstroke by pitting Russell and Hamilton under a late virtual safety car to open up the chance of a 1-2 result.
While both drivers made quick work in getting past Charles Leclerc, that wasn’t the case when they closed up on the leading duo of Sainz and Norris.
Although Russell put as much pressure as he could on the McLaren driver, Norris didn’t crack meaning that Mercedes’ hopes of catching the leading Ferrari were dashed.
With the Silver Arrows running a comfortable 3rd and 4th on the final lap, Russell made the mistake of refusing to settle, carelessly clipped the wall at Turn 10 and flushed 15 points away.
“I feel like I’ve let myself down and the team down,” he said after the race, aware that Mercedes look to fend off Ferrari for second in the Constructors’ championship.
Russell learned a tough lesson on Sunday that sometimes less is more and it’s one he and the team will be hoping he learns from in the future.