Written by Owen Bradley
Credit: Qian Jun
Formula One returned to the Singapore Streets, a race which tested the drivers both physically and mentally this weekend. Red Bull struggle, Ferrari take victory and Mercedes Mess up again. Also, read more to see if my predictions made in the Preview, turned out to be correct!
FULL RACE RESULTS
Credit: Ame Snyman and @projectdivebomb on social media
After a thrilling qualifying session, which you can read all about here - https://www.dive-bomb.com/post/f1-singapore-gp-full-qualifying-results-and-report
Carlos Sainz took his second consecutive pole position, carrying over the Ferrari's pace from Monza and further building on what has been a bit of a slow-burning season for Ferrari. George Russell started P2, hoping to steal a victory like he did in 2022 at Brazil, Leclerc was P3 and Norris in P4. It was all set for a great race, and it certainly did deliver.
Singapore Grand Prix:
A chaotic start which saw Lewis Hamilton jump Lando Norris off the line, ended up with Hamilton having to hand the place back to Norris, as he was run wide on the entry to Turn 2 by his own teammate, George Russell. As the battle behind began, Leclerc had already managed to overtake Russell, as he started on the soft compound tyre, and he began chasing after his teammate Carlos Sainz, who had started the race on the mediums.
Max Verstappen, who had qualified in a dreadful P11, began slowly climbing the field. Red Bull went for the Alternative strategy with Verstappen and Perez, starting on the Hard compound and looking to go for a long distance into the race, switch to the Mediums or Softs and try to chase at the end, rather than ending slow.
Credit: Kym Illman
The race began to settle in a bit, as we eagerly awaited for the Medium tyres to drop off and for the race to really spice up, with the strategies finally paying off for the Hard compound runners.
However, after Logan Sargeant crashed into the wall at Turn 8, sending debris everywhere, the Safety Car was deployed, and this changed everything. All of the leaders came in to pit, but Verstappen and Perez stayed out, on old Hard compound tyres, which made it exceptionally hard to defend with once we got going again. Carlos Sainz had beaten Verstappen out of the pits, meaning he had effectively gained a roadblock to the drivers behind. Charles Leclerc was devastatingly held up in the pits, as Ferrari double-stacked, and this caused the Mercedes of Hamilton, to be coming in at the wrong time, blocking the exit of the pit box for Leclerc.
Leclerc sunk back through the field, which opened up the battle between Sainz, Russell and Norris for the order of the podium places, with Hamilton in close contention. The race, at this stage, had calmed down a lot, with DRS trains becoming all too common, and the DRS also not being quite powerful enough for those trying to stay within a second of the car in front.
Credit: Edmund So
The Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez, were causing their very own trains as their Hard Compound tyres began to fall off the cliff, and the pair of them were really struggling for pace. Meanwhile, Oscar Piastri, who started in 17th place, had begun an exceptional fight back through the field, whilst the other rookie, Liam Lawson, was holding a points finish for Alphatauri. Lawson had never driven at Singapore before, and as a rookie and also in the poor machinery of the Alphatauri, this was an incredible performance. Red Bull eventually pitted, but were a relatively long way out of the points, with Verstappen being the lead Red Bull, in P15.
Suddenly, Esteban Ocon had a major car issue which saw him pull over to the side of the track at the exit of Turn 2, just in front of the pit exit. This subsequently caused a Virtual Safety Car, and both Mercedes drivers opted to come in for fresh Medium Compound tyres, rather than stick out on the old Hard Compound tyre that almost everybody else was running.
After the Virtual Safety Car was cleared, it was game on for Mercedes, who began catching the leading trio up by nearly 2 seconds per lap. They even caught the pack up, by around 1 second, just in the middle sector with all of the tight and twisty corners. It was clear, fresh tyres and supreme grip, was the way to win this race.
Credit: Edmund So
However, as both Mercedes managed to catch right back up to the leading trio, they overtook Charles Leclerc very effectively and efficiently. But, as they drew closer and closer to Norris, they began to run out of laps.
Carlos Sainz played an extraordinary move. He gave DRS to Lando Norris behind him, so that Norris would be able to stay in front of the chasing Mercedes, and this would also in turn, give Sainz a fighting chance of staying in the lead. Meanwhile, Max Verstappen managed to get himself into P6, and began closing on Leclerc by over 4 seconds per lap.
However, as we entered the final lap, Russell would collide with the outside wall on entry to the old infamous "Singapore Sling" which ruined his suspension, and he crashed out of the race. Sainz would come home to take a phenomenal victory, Norris came home in 2nd, a fantastic result for the Briton, as Hamilton rounded out the podium with another solid result.
One of the more forgotten stories, was that Max Verstappen finished in P5, and only three tenths away from Charles Leclerc. To have started in P11 with such a difficult car to drive, this was an acceptable although disappointing result nevertheless.
An incredible race, which breaks Red Bull's record of winning every race in 2023, as Ferrari now join that list, and Carlos Sainz also adds his name to the list of 2023 race winners, with only three drivers up there at the moment.
Credit: Edmund So
Well, a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix which has left many hoping for more races like this in 2023. Mercedes looked fast, but still had some issues which potentially cost them the victory. It is now clear that the Red Bull does have at least a few flaws, and that this race might be the most talked about in the entire 2023 list of races. Much to learn from many teams at the sharp end. Ferrari are likely the second best team, after two consecutive poles and now a race victory, it seems that Carlos Sainz has come on leaps and bounds in the latter half of this season. McLaren seem strong despite certainly being slower than Mercedes and Ferrari, and their bid to challenge for podiums continues, with another one added to their tally. Aston Martin seem as though they might be in a very tough spot, with neither driver finishing in the points, they have had a significant drop off in pace, after the summer break. And finally, Liam Lawson shines in the Singapore Spotlight, scoring points in just his third race, and only his second full race weekend.
Owen's Predictions - RESULTS! Well, I had predicted a Sainz and a Ferrari victory, and it was exactly that! Sainz came home to take a great, and very smart victory which was fully deserved. I also predicted Alonso for P2 and Perez for P3, which most certainly did not pan out. In fact, Alonso finished last place on the track, and Perez had a post-race penalty, finishing in P8. Well, I won't exactly be putting money on any F1 predictions in the future, However, I had also placed money on Max Verstappen to win the Spanish GP in 2016 (true story) and somehow, that prediction did come true. Once again, I got the Race Winner correct, so perhaps I can see the future after all.
A thrilling and fun weekend at Singapore which added a new race winner, and some massive drama and action to what has been a fairly monotonous 2023 season at the sharp end so far. With Red Bull seeking Redemption for Singapore, and Verstappen still mathematically able to break his own victory record, there is still much to look forward to in 2023.
But what did you make of the Singapore GP weekend? let us know in the comments below!
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