Race Report: Sainz wins Singapore GP for Ferrari

MARINA BAY STREET CIRCUIT, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 17: Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 1st position, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, and Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, on the podium during the Singapore GP at Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday September 17, 2023 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Steven Tee / LAT Images)

Carlos Sainz and Ferrari win the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix while helping McLaren’s Lando Norris stay ahead of two predatory Mercedes cars. If you were tired of Red Bull dominance and were looking for a good race of strategy and driving, this was the grand prix for you.

Carlos drove a terrific race by managing the pace early on to cover for Ferrari’s long-run tire degradation. By doing so, he kept the field bunched up, prevented under cut’s and managed his tires.

Later, when Mercedes brilliantly executed their fresh Medium compound strategy, Carlos pushed to stay ahead but used Lando Norris in second place to hold off the charging Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton all while giving Lando DRS to help him stay in front of the two Merc drivers.

Win

An absolute win for Ferrari who have taken it on the chin lately over strategy miscues. They managed this race perfectly and Carlos did a very good job of controlling the early pace covering for undercuts, safety cars and most importantly, his tire degradation. When Mercedes became a serious threat after the Virtual Safety Car period, Carlos used Lando Norris’s McLaren to keep the Mercs behind them and even purposely gave Lando a DRS boost to allow him to keep the quicker Mercs behind both of them. Brilliant day for Ferrari and Carlos. Charles Leclerc came home if 4th helping Ferrari get firm footing for second in the Constructor’s Championship run.

A win for Lando Norris and McLaren who held on and took advantage of Carlos Sainz’s gift of DRS to secure 2nd in Singapore. Lando drove a terrific race and made the most of his car and even clipped the wall on the final lap, which George Russell managed to do as well, to come home with big points. Oscar recovering to 7th was a very good drive as well for important points for the team.

A win for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton with a brilliant strategy call on saving a set of fresh Mediums for the race to use during a safety car. The VSC came out and the two Mercs were storming to the front on fresh tires. While George binned it on the last lap, Lewis, who looked quicker on the fresh Mediums, cruised home for a podium finish. It was great call from the team who perfectly read the tea leaves. They had a pace advantage but unfortunately Carlos and Lando were working together to hold them at 3rd.

A great drive from Alpha Taurus Liam Lawson who is doing what Nyck de Vries was expected to do…score points and beat Yuki Tsunoda. That’s exactly what Liam has done and he’s making a very strong case for seeing out the rest of the season in place of Daniel Ricciardo. This is how you cease and opportunity.

Also a win for Pierre Gasly who got mugged by Kevin Magnussen early on, mugged Kevin back and rolled to 6th giving the team much-needed points. Esteban Ocon suffered a DNF but would have played a factor int eh top 6 or 7 too so it was a strong day for Alpine.

Fail

A fail for George Russell who honestly looked set to take a win away from Ferrari but with fresh Mediums, he was tracking Lando hard in the final laps and unfortunately mirrored Lando’s line too much, clipped the wall and ended his race on the final lap. This handed the podium to Lewis but to be fair, Lewis looked the quicker of the two in final 2 or 3 laps.

A fail for Red Bull who end their 10-race win streak for Max Verstappen and struggled all weekend to get their car on grips with the track. Many suggest it’s just the track and I hope that’s the case because I suspect the FIA technical directive might have something to do with and we’ll find out in Japan. If they struggle in Japan, I won’t be happy as I detest the FIA purposefully manipulating the series by trying to hobble a team’s advantage as they’ve done in the past to Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Renault and others. It’s infuriating and fabricated and I dislike it very much.

A fail for Alpine with a DNF for Esteban Ocon as it would have been a very impressive double-points finish for the team.

Also a fail for Aston Martin who only started one car (presumably Lance wasn’t feeling well and it was costly to rebuild the car for the race) but it does bring up another question mark about Lance.

A tough day for Alfa Romeo who looked as if they may be in for a chance to nip a point with Zho Guanyu and that would have been great given he started from pit lane but it was not to be with a DNF for Valtteri Bottas and Zho down in P12.

WTH

Not sure why Yuki Tusnoda pulled off and parked up due to a tire puncture or at least that’s what he said on the radio. That seems odd.

I’m very curious on how Red Bull will perform in Japan. We’ve been to just about every kind of circuit and they have dominated but we know they’ve struggled at Singapore before so let’s hope it isn’t the TD that hobbled them.

Pirelli’s view:

Most drivers (13 of the 19) chose to start on the Medium compound, with the remaining six divided equally between the Soft and Hard. However, the Soft proved to be a tactically sound choice for Zhou in the Alfa Romeo, as the Chinese driver, starting from pit lane, pitted immediately to then try and run the entire race on the Hard. The Safety Car came out on lap 20, triggering a rush for pit lane, with all the drivers who had started on the Medium coming in to switch to the Hard, while those who had started on the latter staying out on track before making their only pit stop at around two thirds race distance. Shortly after, on lap 44, another VSC produced another opportunity to mix things up. That is what the Mercedes pair did along with the Williams, coming in for Medium tyres, while Alonso and Magnussen pitted for Softs. In the closing stages of the race the C4 proved to be very quick for both Hamilton and Russell, who rapidly closed on the leaders (Sainz and Norris) and for Verstappen and Perez who used the extra pace to come from the back to finish in the points.

Singapore Grand Prix Results:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
155Carlos SainzFERRARI621:46:37.41825
24Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES62+0.812s18
344Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES62+1.269s16
416Charles LeclercFERRARI62+21.177s12
51Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT62+21.441s10
610Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT62+38.441s8
781Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES62+41.479s6
811Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT62+54.534s4
940Liam LawsonALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT62+65.918s2
1020Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI62+72.116s1
1123Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES62+73.417s0
1224Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI62+83.649s0
1327Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI62+86.201s0
142Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES62+86.889s0
1514Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES62+87.603s0
1663George RussellMERCEDES61DNF0
NC77Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI51DNF0
NC31Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT42DNF0
NC22Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT0DNF0
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Fabio

It certainly does seem like an odd coincidence, but as we know, correlation is not causation.
Japan will be interesting in that regard, but RBR will probably find a way to sort the issue out this week, so we’ll never really know.

Good to see Carlos doing well, and dare I say it, it feels like he is starting to knock Charles’ feet off the table.

Lando and Oscar are just getting better and better in that car.

As for Lance……

Worthless Opinion

It could be the FIA trying to improve the entertainment, certainly, but it could also be RBR was cheating and figured out an excuse for it by manipulating the semantics of the rules and rhe FIA had to clarify the rule (as it existed) to stop them. I mean RBR have seemed sheepish when Max has bragged about their deadly speed advantage, like ‘don’t draw attention to it’

Xean Drury

My WTF is Lewis Hamilton. I’m not a Hamfosi, but recognize him as an amazing driver, albeit whiny at time when not leading the race. But he was all over everything this race. Very uncharacteristic of his usual racecraft.

Super glad Haas got a point. Would have been even better if it wasn’t from Russel’s suffering. They say upgrades are coming in a few race’s time. Can’t come soon enough.

Nicholas

I agree with you on the Technical Directive change to the regulations half way through a season, but you have to agree that the movable aero rules weren’t being respected by the Red Bull (and others as well, I can’t remember which car was the most obvious for it but it wasn’t an RB). I find it clearest on the nose cameras – if you look at the main front wing elements watching how they move relative to the fixed central parts. Lots (maybe all) cars have a little wing seperator type bit at that join – but watching it… Read more »