At the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, the 15th race of the Formula 1 season, Ferrari member Carlos Sainz brought home a win for the scarlet crowds worldwide. It is also what finally broke Red Bull’s Max Verstappen’s record-breaking streak of 10 consecutive wins Sunday night.
Ferrari flew this weekend, topping the first two free practices. Sainz finished first in free practices 2 and 3. His thrilling pole position -his second in a row- gave him a high advantage at a track where overtaking can be a difficult feat.
The race was destined to be action-packed, with the thrilling saga showcasing Red Bull’s mortality and the jaw-dropping qualifying session.
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll crashed horrifically in Qualifying Session 1, where he made it out unscathed, but was unable to race the next day due to soreness. Since reserve driver Felipe Drugovitch took no part in any of the free practices or in qualifying, he was ineligible to replace Stroll in the race. The starting grid of the race would consist of just 19 drivers, with only Fernando Alonso starting for Aston Martin.
It was Liam Lawson, the rookie reserve driver and fourth for Alpha Tauri this year, who truly threw the motorsport community in an uproar. His qualifying time of 1:32:166 threw Verstappen out of Q3 by 0.007 seconds, making it the first time since 2018 that Red Bull did not make it into Q3, breaking a 102-race streak. He qualified Place 10, right ahead of Verstappen and Sergio Perez at P13.
With not a minute into the first lap, Perez made contact with Yuki Tsunoda, causing him to retire from the race. In the past two races combined, Tsunoda had completed a total of half a lap.
Ferrari knew Carlos Sainz, who qualified P1, would be their best chance at a win, even if it meant sacrificing Charles Leclerc. With the daunting Mercedes starting P2 with George Russell and P5 with Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari’s strategists had their work cut out for them.
Leclerc initially started on soft tyres, which paid off when he passed Russell to form a Ferrari 1-2 for the first many laps of the race.
Until Logan Sargeant ran into a wall and spread the debris of his broken wing across the track, where Leclerc backed off to give Sainz a 9-second advantage.
Ferrari’s double pit stop kept Sainz in the lead but left Leclerc vulnerable to traffic in the pit lane, where he fell behind the three British drivers.
Red Bull made the costly mistake of not pitting, as a pit stop under the safety car is just 15 seconds compared to the regular 28. For the first time in what felt like forever, Max Verstappen lost multiple positions to other cars in just a few laps.
Mercedes, even closer to Sainz, was waiting for the pin to drop. That came in the form of Esteban Ocon’s Did Not Finish, employing a virtual safety car where Mercedes made another double pit stop.
Russell might have joined 15 seconds behind Leclerc, but he and Hamilton quickly passed him.
The last few laps were some of the most thrilling of the season. Mercedes were right on the tails of Lando Norris and Sainz, but would soon find out they weren’t all racing against each other. The former McLaren teammates displayed their long-lasting brotherhood as Sainz deliberately kept Norris within DRS range to make a Mercedes overtake much more difficult.
Russell’s race ended in heartbreak, as he crashed in the final lap in one final attempt to pass Norris, losing out on a vital podium place.
But for the first time since Russell’s maiden win in Brazil 2022, a non-Red Bull driver won a grand prix when Sainz crossed the finish line, followed by Norris and Hamilton with only 1.2 seconds separating them.
Leclerc finished P4, with Verstappen managing a P5, leading his teammate by 151 points. This was the first time he had not been on the podium since Brazil 2022.
Hamilton rose to P3 in the championship above Fernando Alonso, who finished P15 as he spent the majority of the race with a broken suspension and faced a five-second penalty for crossing the pit entry line.
Lawson took P9, finally giving Alpha Tauri more points than drivers, and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen finished tenth, giving Haas a much better race than last week. A win for Ferrari, a win for scarlet.