The end of Red Bull and Verstappen hegemony: invincible on the urban circuit of Marina Bay, Carlos Sainz gave Ferrari its first victory of the season on Sunday at the Singapore Grand Prix, putting an end to the record series of ten victories of 'in a row for Max Verstappen and 15 for Red Bull.
“What an incredible feeling, an incredible weekend, thanks to Ferrari for all the efforts to get us back on track, after a difficult start to the season,” said the Spaniard who won ahead of the British Lando Norris (McLaren) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). The solid leader in the championship, Verstappen, finished 5th ahead of his teammate Sergio Pérez, 8th, at the end of a complicated weekend for Red Bull.
Overall, the Dutchman (374 pts) still maintains a comfortable lead of 151 points over Pérez (223 pts), second. Hamilton (180 pts) recovers third place from Fernando Alonso, only 15th.
Starting in pole position, Sainz resisted the competition until the end, but barely, and in particular the return of the Mercedes at the end of the race. The German cars in fact played a different and opportunistic strategy which could have paid off. George Russell and Hamilton played their hand in the last third of the race, taking advantage of a virtual safety car (following the stoppage of Esteban Ocon's Alpine, victim of a mechanical problem) to dive into the stands.
Out on medium tires – faster and cooler than Sainz's hard compounds – the objective for the German team was clear: regain the lead of the race.
However, this was without counting on the resistance of Norris, determined to contain his compatriots to maintain his second place – not without a helping hand from Sainz. The wily Spaniard deliberately let Norris get closer to him so that he could benefit from DRS [the flap mounted on the rear wing which opens to gain top speed but can only be activated if there is less a second apart from the previous car, Editor's note], to help it resist the assaults of the Mercedes. “Carlos was very generous,” praised Norris.
On the last lap, Russell finally made a mistake, ending his race in a wall. The Briton was unable to leave. Since 2008 and the arrival of the Singapore GP on the calendar, never has a race taken place there without the intervention of the safety car.
The 2023 vintage will not have escaped the rule since a third of the way into the race, the American Logan Sargeant hit a wall at low speed – enough to damage the front wing of his Williams, causing the car to exit of security.
The opportunity for the majority of drivers to change their tires. Among them, Charles Leclerc was the main victim of a stop that was far too long, the fault of the traffic in the pit lane. The Monegasque, then second, lost two places. He finally finished 4th ahead of Verstappen and Frenchman Pierre Gasly, 6th at the wheel of his Alpine.
Before the Singapore GP, Red Bull had won in each of the last 15 rounds contested, shattering the record for consecutive victories for a team held since 1988 by McLaren (11). Verstappen alone has 13 victories since the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP. During the last GP, he even set a new record of ten victories in a row with his success in Italy.
Building on its performances, Red Bull had a first theoretical chance on Sunday to win its second constructors' title in a row. But to achieve this, its drivers first had to finish in the first two places in the GP. A performance that Verstappen had automatically buried: only 11th on the grid – ahead of Pérez 13th –, “we can't really overtake on this circuit, and usually we have a pace advantage, but here, we don't. will not have,” he lamented on Saturday.
The reigning double world champion now has the Japanese GP in his sights next weekend, on the formidable Suzuka figure 8 circuit, considered one of the most beautiful and difficult circuits in the world: “I think I can bounce back , we know the strong points of our car and Suzuka will be a good track for us,” he told Canal .
But unlike last year when he was crowned there, Verstappen this season has no chance of recovering a third world crown at Suzuka.
Singapore F1/GP – The standings
1. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari) the 305.399 km in 1 h 46: 37.418
2.Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) at 0.812
3.Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) at 1,269
4.Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) at 21.177
5.Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) at 21,441
6.Pierre Gasly (FRA/Alpine-Renault) at 38.441
7.Oscar Piastri (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) at 41,479
8.Sergio Pérez (MEX/Red Bull) at 54,534
9.Liam Lawson (NZL/AlphaTauri-Red Bull) 1:05.918
10.Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) at 1:12.116
11.Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes) at 1:13.417
12.Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) at 1:23.649
13.Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Haas-Ferrari) at 1:26.201
14.Logan Sargeant (USA/Williams-Mercedes) at 1:26.889
15.Fernando Alonso (ESP/Aston Martin-Mercedes) at 1:27.603
16.George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) at 1 lap
Best lap of the race: Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:35.867 on lap 47 (average: 190.126 km/h)
Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Red Bull): spin 1st lap
Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault): engine 43rd lap
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari): mechanical problem 52nd lap
George Russell (GBR/Mercedes): accident on lap 62 (classified)