In one of the more exciting races of the 2023 Formula 1 season, Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen were nowhere to be seen as Carlos Sainz Jr. secured a spectacular victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.
Despite the pre-race concerns about the dull nature of the Singapore street circuit, the ending to the race was better than anything we have seen throughout the entire campaign as there was actual competitive racing.
The grid, buoyed by Verstappen failing to get out of Q2, was set to favor Ferrari as Carlos Sainz started on pole.
The first 25 laps were very much a non-event, as Sainz controlled the pace from the front, managing his tires, until Yuki Tsunoda picked up a puncture and the first safety car of the day was required.
Pit stops were the story of the moment, as all of the leading cars came in for fresh tires, aside from the two Red Bull drivers.
Sainz was then able to get back out in front and take control of the race once more, until Esteban Ocon‘s car failed with around 15 laps to go.
Sainz and Norris worked together to force a memorable finish
With the virtual safety car called out due to Ocon’s misfortune, Mercedes made a move which set up a superb end to the race.
Both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were called in for a double-stack pit stop and they had fresh Mercedes tires put on.
This gave them a huge pace advantage to Lando Norris and Sainz ahead of them, who were still on ageing hard tires.
Charles Leclerc was no match for the two Mercedes cars, and by the time the last five laps of the race arrived, both Silver Arrows were tagging onto Norris’ gearbox.
It looked for all the world as if Sainz and Norris would have to surrender to a Mercedes one-two, however a unique strategy between the former McLaren teammates ensured no positions were exchanged.
Sainz allowed Norris to stick close enough to him to have DRS, which he could then use to defend his own position from the charging Mercedes.
With the pressure building, Russell couldn’t quite get past Norris and in one of the final corners he missed a corner and drove straight into the wall, allowing Hamilton to move into third.
It was the first race of the season not to end in the Austrian national anthem being played on the podium, and Ferrari’s first real success of the campaign.
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