SINGAPORE GP – Red Bull’s win streak ended by Carlos Sainz in a thrilling night with a four-car fight for victory
Carlos Sainz has won a nail-biting Singapore Grand Prix beating his former teammate Lando Norris by eight tenths following a four-car fight in the closing stages. Sainz ends Red Bull’s fourteen race win run, following a nail-biting five-car fight for victory between Ferrari, Mercedes, and Norris.
Sainz had to fend off Norris and Russell in the closing laps, all three had a chance in the closing stages, Mercedes looking to be the fastest car in the latter stages when trying to pass Norris the Englishman clipped the wall on the penultimate lap then went straight into the wall at Stanford and out of the race.
It was a slow-burning race to start with but for once Ferrari got everything right, fending off both Mercedes and Norris in the final quarter of the race. Sainz then used his former teammate as a defender to protect his lead from Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari from Sunday lunchtime had set out their intention to win the race, team work though fractious at times, was key, Leclerc was asked by Ferrari to back up the rest of the field and give his team-mate a five-second lead. Leclerc did not quite do that, staying within a second of Sainz for 10 laps or so, and then dropping back to about three seconds away.
But he certainly helped Sainz significantly when a safety car was deployed on lap 20 after Logan Sargeant broke his front wing by running wide into a wall and dragged debris around the track as he returned to the pits. Backing up the cars allowed Sainz to make a free first pit stop.
However, Leclerc lost out in what could have been the battle for the win when the Williams driver crashed bringing out the safety car. That forced Ferrari to pit the Monacan at the worst possible moment, after the field bunched up behind the safety car resulting in him losing four places.
Sainz said “An incredible feeling, an incredible weekend, I want to thank everyone at Ferrari and managing to win after a tricky beginning, but we now nailed the weekend, we nailed the race and we did everything we had to do, and we did it perfect.”
Norris added, “Carlos was very generous trying to help me get DRS. It helped my race and also helped his. It was tough. We knew it was going to be tough as soon as the Mercedes boxed, but we held them off, we did everything we needed to do and more. So I’m super happy.”
Russell’s crash moved his teammate Lewis Hamilton into third, the seven-time world champion finishing the race comfortably ahead of Leclerc. The second Ferrari not able to join the titanic fight in the closing stages for victory, Ferrar, Mercedes and McLaren covered by just over a second.
Speaking about the crash, Russell said, “It was a really challenging race, the tyres were dropping off and you are pushing the limits. It’s heart-breaking after such a great weekend, qualifying was great, the race was great, we were bold with the strategy but I feel like I’ve let myself and the team down, it’s tough but we will come back.”
Before Russell’s crash, the top three with five laps to go were covered by two and a half seconds. In the final laps Russell and Norris closed up to Sainz, but the Ferrari driver cleverly allowed Norris to close back to within DRS range again to help his defence, and as Russell attempted an attack on the final lap, he clipped the wall at Turn 10 to crash out.
The hardest race of the year, with Singapore living up to its billing as the most dramatic and action-filled races. The first half of the race felt like waiting for something to trigger the fight for victory between Ferrari, Mercedes and Norris. It came with twenty laps to go, Esteban Ocon brought out the VSC when his Alpine stopped at the exit of the pit lane.
Mercedes all weekend had boldly from FP2 saved a set of mediums, that gave them an advantage in the closing stages.
Red Bull, who had won every race this season, had their most difficult weekend of the season, as the team looked off the pace all weekend with Verstappen finishing the race three seconds behind Leclerc.
A decent recovery drive to fifth using the alternative strategy with the mediums allowing him to carve through the field, but a weekend below the standard we expect from Red Bull this season. But he was out of position during the safety car on tyre strategy which made him easy pickings
Verstappen leads Perez by a hundred and fifty-one points in the championship, his lead slightly reduced, but mathematically still able to win it at Suzuka next weekend.
Verstappen went into the race knowing from eleventh it would be a difficult race to win, but it wasn’t as easy for him to clear the traffic. A decent recovery, but he after clearing the Alpine’s and Alpha Tauri’s easily became trapped in a battle with Aston Martin.
He did run second in the pit stop stage, but that was thanks to a long first stint but Leclerc backed up the field and once the leaders made their stops and his own stop dropped back to fifteenth. However in the final twenty three laps, Verstappen dropped back to fifth.
Pierre Gasly was sixth three seconds ahead of Oscar Piastri, the second McLaren driving a great race from seventeenth on the grid.
Piastri finishing the race comfortably ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez. Red Bull will clearly have answers to find, but the gap has closed up while this will be seen as a blip by many.
Perez finished ten seconds ahead of the sister Alpha Tauri of Liam Lawson, who scored his first points, while Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten.
After the race, Perez was given a five second penalty for causing a collision with Alex Albon at Turn Thirteen. The pair made contact at the apex and Albon, who was deflected off-line, had to hit the brakes and lock up his tyres to avoid the outside wall.
The stewards concluded that Perez was to blame as Albon took his normal racing line, and unaware of the Red Bulls location. Perez’s move up the inside was considered to be an “optimistic late manoeuvre that could be defined as “diving in”, and that there was nothing that [Albon] could have done to avoid the collision.”
As a result, Perez was found to be predominately to blame and copped a five-second penalty and had a point added to his FIA superlicence.
Albon was eleventh ahead of Guanyu Zhou, the Alfa Romeo driver gaining places following a pit lane start following a power unit change. Nico Hulkenberg dropped to thirteenth, he looked to struggle to remain in the battle behind the Zhou. Logan Sargeant was fourteenth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Russell.
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- SINGAPORE GP – Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two by eight hundredths in first practice
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