Carlos Sainz converted pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix into his first win for Ferrari in a superb display under the lights.
We look at five talking points from the Marina Bay Street circuit.
Red Bull’s Winning Dominance Ends
Sainz’s win this weekend was the first non-Red Bull win of 2023. Max Verstappen had been unbeaten in 10 races and the team had won 15 races in a row. Verstappen’s prediction of a tough weekend for Red Bull came to fruition as both he and Perez tanked out of Q2 on Saturday. It was the first time since 2018 that both Red Bulls didn’t advance to Q3. Verstappen admitted that in the simulator the RB-19 didn’t look competitive. The team wasn’t able to run the car as low as they usually do and it hampered the car’s performance.
Ferrari Overcomes Low Downforce Issues
The Italian outfit’s performance at a low downforce circuit like Marina Bay raised eyebrows around the paddock. Both drivers praised the SF-23’s balance, and it looks more composed in comparison to its behavior at Monza. The alterations to the Singapore circuit that saw tight corners from 16 to 19 under the grandstand change to a straight helped the team. Ferrari seems to have turned a corner from its inconsistencies at low downforce tracks. The team made one upgrade for Singapore: a reprofiled front wing flap.
Mercedes’ Brilliant Strategy Call
A late Virtual Safety Car courtesy of birthday boy Esteban Ocon’s retirement saw Mercedes double-stack their cars for fresh medium tyres in search of a victory. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton benefitted from clear air after the leaders opted not to pit. The Merc drivers were rapid on the new rubber and passed Charles Leclerc. Race leader Sainz judged the gap before the DRS at Turn 5 to perfection and pinned Lando Norris back enough unable to attack the Ferrari but kept him close enough to stay ahead of the Mercs. Russell clipped the wall on the final lap and Hamilton grabbed the final podium position.
Sainz Shouldn’t Be Seen As A ‘no.2’ Driver
Sainz’s performances since the summer break have been superb. He has claimed back-to-back pole positions and scored third place in front of the manic Ferrari fans at Monza. Among the sport’s circles, Leclerc is seen as the better driver in the team. But the Monegasque driver lost fifth place to Sainz in the constructors’ standings after the Spaniard’s win and placed more pressure on Leclerc. Last season he finished second to Verstappen and now finds himself 19 points adrift of his teammate who is high on confidence.
Liam Lawson Scores First Points
AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson drove brilliantly under the lights to finish ninth and grab his first world championship points. The New Zealand driver replaced Daniel Ricciardo at Zandvoort three weeks ago and has taken three race starts to score a top-10 finish. The 21-year-old is doing a sterling job in a bid to secure a permanent seat.
The team head to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix with Red Bull looking to bounce back to winning ways.