Ferrari and McLaren capitalise, Red Bull rescue points, Mercedes miss chance

18 Sep, 2023

Carlos Sainz ended Max Verstappen’s 10-race win streak, putting Ferrari back to the top step of the podium. The Spaniard managed to soak up the pressure and masterfully control the pace in Singapore to claim victory. These were Sainz’s comments post-race:

“Incredible feeling and incredible weekend. I want to thank every member of Scuderia Ferrari for making an incredible effort to turn the season around. We managed to win after a difficult start. We had a perfect weekend. We won this race.

“We return home with first place, and I’m sure that all of Italy and all the Ferrari fans will be proud. We had to manage our limits on tyre degradation. In the beginning, we had to reach the target lap in order to fit the tires we had in mind.

“Then the Safety Car arrived earlier than we expected, so we had to do a longer stint than expected on hard tyres. I had to try to keep George behind, and everything had to work perfectly.

“The margins were very close, but I gave Lando some DRS to help him, and in the end, we managed to finish first.

“I thought I had the pace. I won’t lie; you’re always under pressure, and you’re always close to making mistakes at a circuit like this.

“But I felt in control and managed everything well. Bringing the car to the finish line was the best feeling. I’m over the moon.”

John Elkann, Ferrari President, released a statement post-race and expressed his joy at the Scuderia’s result in Singapore.

Ferrari

In second place was Lando Norris. The British driver extracted every ounce of potential from his car, claiming a ninth career victory. The 23-year-old was helped by his former McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz, taking advantage of DRS from the SF-23:

“Carlos was very generous in helping me obtain the DRS. He helped my race, and I helped him, so it was tough. We knew it would be tough as soon as the Mercedes stopped, especially with a couple of cars to overtake.

“But we are on the podium, in second place; we kept them at bay. We did everything we were supposed to do and more. So we are very happy.”

Lewis Hamilton rounded out the podium. The seven-time world champion had a better feeling with the W14 as the weekend progressed, finding his groove in race trim and showing more pace than teammate George Russell.

At the end of the race, the Englishman declared that the correct strategy was – in his opinion – to make two pit stops using the team’s extra set of mediums:

“First, I want to congratulate Carlos and Lando, who did a great job, and their strategy worked. We had set up the weekend differently to make a different strategy with the tires in the race today.

“In my opinion, it was a two-stop race, but it must be said that the others did a fantastic job today. It was a shame about the mistake in the first corners, but I kept my head down and continued to push. Bad luck for George, too.

“We were pushing so hard to catch those in front of us that we overheated the tyres, and he made a mistake. Anyway, it was a good weekend. It was a tough race, but today, we just have to be happy with what we did.”

Ferrari

Charles Leclerc finished in fourth position after a race of sacrifice, especially in the first stint of the race, ensuring Ferrari an excellent haul of points, especially against Aston Martin (and Mercedes).

The Monegasque had to open the gap with his teammate to try to protect the Spaniard from any undercut or overcut attacks and to keep the temperatures of the tyres, Power Unit and brakes at bay:

“Today it’s normal that the temperatures went like this things, that I was sacrificed. We had already discussed it before the race. The important thing was to let Ferrari win.

“In the first stint, the situation was a little different because we had better pace than the Mercedes, so it was positive. This is why I asked if it was possible to change the strategy.

“But in the end, we did very well because Carlos managed to win, and that’s what counts. I’m certainly disappointed on my part. I would have liked to have had a better result because the pace was there.

“In the second stint, I didn’t try to do anything other than bring the car home. When Russell and Hamilton passed me, I knew that was the end of my race.”

Just behind the Monegasque, we find – unusually – the reigning world champion: Max Verstappen. 

The Dutchman drove an RB19 that showed little stability and struggled during traction. Verstappen even felt like he was “driving on ice” at the end of his stint on hard tyres.

His 10-race win stream was finally interrupted:

“Sooner or later this day had to come. It’s fine for me. The Safety Car arrived at the worst moment for us. Without it, we would have been able to finish closer to the leaders

“In the race, the car works better than in qualifying, and it was like that today, too. The stint on the medium tires was very good, although the problems from Friday and Saturday are still there today.

“We learned a lot, perhaps even about what we did wrong on Saturday. I can’t go into details. We will only be able to see next year, when we return here if we will be able to improve.”

With an excellent race, Pierre Gasly finished in sixth position. The Frenchman optimised his race in an Alpine that seemed well suited to the characteristics of the Singapore track:

“I’m happy. Looking at the standings I don’t think we could have done better. We had a good start and some good battles, especially with Magnussen and Alonso. Without a doubt it was a positive day.”

Ferrari

With a great comeback from P17 was Oscar Piastri, who finished the race in 7th. The Australian did not have the new upgrade package that teammate Lando Norris enjoyed, but still brought home big points:

“Very happy to back in the points, and with good points. I felt I absolutely deserved them. Happy for the team with another podium. We hope to have another good weekend in Suzuka, and we look forward to fitting new upgrades.”

Sergio Perez finished the race in eighth position. The Mexican was anonymous all weekend and, although unlucky with the safety cars, he was unable to prove competitive in the race, apart from in the final stint on fresh tyres:

“It was the worst possible resultThe safety cars came out at the wrong time. This was the best we could have done. In the end, we adopted a different strategy than everyone else, and it was the best we could do. I think we have a lot to investigate after this weekend and a lot to understand as a team.”

With a great performance, Liam Lawson scored two points. The New Zealand driver, in his third F1 race, proved to be extremely competitive and at ease with the AT04, finishing in the points at the end of 62 laps:

“I’m very tired at the moment. We maximized what we could today. I have to improve my starts. It’s not the first time I’ve lost two positions at the start; this has to be the target for the next races.”

After more than four months without points (since the Miami GP), Haas is back in the points. Kevin Magnussen secured a P10 finish for the American team.

The Dane had several battles with Gasly and Piastri but managed to maximise the result – especially considering he suffered from a break problem:

“I thought the race was completely over once I was overtaken by Gasly and the McLaren. I had a brake problem and went wide in turn 2. I went off the track and came back in – so I thought it was over.

“When the Safety Car came out, I pitted and had great pace on the softer tyre, and I gained some places.

“I got lucky when Russell hit the wall and guaranteed me the point. It’s very satisfying for me.

“Personally, it’s the third Grand Prix this year for me in P10 – I’m earning these points every time. I’m really having a season where I have to fight and work hard fpr everything. We don’t expect the same opportunity on future tracks until we get the update [planned for Texas].”

The most disappointed driver of the day was undoubtedly George Russell, who, seeing the opportunity to win his second career race, overtaking the Ferrari and McLaren in front of him, hit the barriers on the last lap:

“I’m without words. I think we were half a car away from winning the race today. If I could have passed Lando (Norris), I’m sure I could have passed Carlos (Sainz).

“Unfortunately, I missed this opportunity. I made a mistake of a centimetre or two on the last lap and hit the wall. It’s a mistake that overshadowed my entire weekend.

“It had been a fantastic race weekend up to that point. The car was running great, and the team had done an incredible job. Our strategy was superb, and we were bold and aggressive.

“It was exciting out there, and it’s heartbreaking to find ourselves here with zero points. However, there are positives to take away. I’ll probably have a bad night tonight and tomorrow morning, too. But I will put all this behind me and come back stronger next weekend in Japan.”

SEGUICI SU

Podcast