Carlos Sainz wins the Singapore Grand Prix after a very tactical drive that sees Max Verstappen’s 10 race win streak come to an end.
The start saw both Ferrari cars get off well, whilst George Russell struggled. Leclerc managed to make his way up to 2nd place behind his teammate, whilst Russell temporarily lost another position to Lewis Hamilton, though this was then conceded given that Hamilton had been off track to get ahead.
Yuki Tsunoda’s night ended early once again, having picked up damage following contact with Sergio Perez which forced him to retire.
The early stages of the race were characterised by a significant lack of overtaking, given that all the drivers were managing their cars in tricky conditions. Verstappen had began to make his way up the field slowly, showing that his car was no easier to drive today as it had been all weekend long.
Lap 19 saw Logan Sargeant crash into the wall at turn 8. Whilst he was able to continue, the debris left from the crash left the stewards no choice but to bring out the safety car. Most of the grid had chosen to come in, and the busy pit lane meant that Leclerc was held, putting him behind both Russell and Norris.
The safety car had also made Red Bull’s night go from bad to worse. They had both started on hard tyres, and whilst they would get track position, their lack of pace on 20 lap older tyres was clear to see, as both Verstappen and Perez would be overtaken by multiple cars after green flag running resumed, and would still have to make a pitstop afterwards.
Leclerc would quickly lose another position to Hamilton after the restart, as he went slightly too deep into turn 7, allowing the Mercedes driver to swoop past.
The race at the front became about management once again as the top 5 were all separated by only a couple of seconds, with each one of them still in with a chance to win.
By lap 37 Alonso had been trying to make his way past Perez for some time, but his Aston Martin proved to be too draggy. Esteban Ocon made the most of his old teammate’s misfortune, getting past after seeing a gap open following another attempted overtake by Alonso. After being able to overtake Perez rather swiftly himself, Ocon would find himself in 7th, which would become 6th once Verstappen pit on lap 41. After their pitstops, Perez found himself in 18th, whilst Verstappen came out in 16th.
Esteban Ocon wouldn’t be able to enjoy 6th for long though, as his engine would give out on him, and the Virtual Safety Car came out after Ocon parked his car right after the pit exit. Mercedes decided to use this time to gamble on putting on mediums to try and have the advantage at the end and win the race. And it appeared to be the smart decision, as Russell and Hamilton were rapidly approaching Leclerc in third, going on to overtake him with ease on lap 53 and 54 respectively.
Further back, and Verstappen had began to charge through the field, looking competitive for the first time all weekend. He would get into the points on lap 48, and then overtake Lawson for 9th on lap 52. He would continue to push through and would be in 6th by lap 58.
Mercedes would continue to catch to the fight for the lead between Sainz and Norris, where there was almost an air of inevitability that one of the Silver Arrows would take victory. They were on the back of Norris by lap 58, however by this point Sainz had allowed Norris to within DRS range. This was done tactically by the Spaniard to help give Norris an extra bit of pace in order to make it harder for either Russell or Hamilton to get past and go for the win.
The plan seemed to work. The incredible pace on display by the Mercedes cars had been halted, and Sainz and Norris were able to preserve their positions. Hamilton was unable to even overtake his teammate, at least until the final lap, when Russell would go too deep at turn 10 and crash out from 3rd place.
This meant that Sainz and Norris were able to continue to the chequered flag in 1st and 2nd respectively, with Hamilton rounding out the podium. This result is the first non-Red Bull victory since George Russell won at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, and Ferrari’s first since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.
Liam Lawson managed to come home in 9th place, scoring his first points in F1, and Alpha Tauri’s best result all season with 9th, doing so in only his third race. Verstappen had challenged Leclerc in the dying laps to take 4th, though just came up short.
F1 now heads to the Japanese Grand Prix next week for the 16th race of the 2023 season.