Singapore Qualifying: Sainz takes Pole Position, Red Bull struggle

Jaden Diaz
16 Sep, 2023

Carlos Sainz takes Pole Position in Singapore Qualifying! The Spaniard finished ahead of Russell and Leclerc in a very close qualifying. The final shoot-out did not feature the Red Bull duo of Verstappen or Perez, with both drivers executing messy laps in an RB19 that lacks performance in Marina Bay.

Despite the ten consecutive victories by the number 1, it will be a feat to manage to get the eleventh from the sixth row, waiting for the commissioners’ decision on possible penalties.

Lando Norris, Hamilton, Magnussen, Alonso, Ocon, Hulkenberg and an extraordinary Liam Lawson complete the top ten.

A strong McLaren just missed out on the top three with Norris, while Piastri was the big loser from Stroll’s accident. Meanwhile, Haas, Alpine and Alpha Tauri (with the rookie Lawson) finish Saturday with fantastic grid positions.

Singapore Qualifying: Ferrari SF-23 competitive under the lights, Mercedes and McLaren close. Red Bull stumble

Ferrari, in particular with Sainz, has dominated the Singaporean weekend so far. The Scuderia has been first in every session, with a good SF-23, thanks to the very peculiar characteristics of the track. Alongside this, the team has a better understanding of the high-load package after several weeks of analysis and hours spent on the simulator in Maranello.

Mercedes struggled in the early stages of the weekend, as has often happened in 2023, before finding the right balance in Free Practice 3.

A great lap by George Russell gave the Brackley team the front row, who can now dream together with Ferrari and McLaren of the first victory of the season in a race that will be very intense.

The surprise of the day, and perhaps of the entire year, is certainly Red Bull: yesterday’s performances did not enthuse the engineers, but no one in the paddock would have expected such a defeat after the fifteen victories in as many Grands Prix this season.

Verstappen and Perez were never happy with the set-up of the RB19, which, especially over the flying lap, couldn’t find its operating window.

There are also concerns with a higher fuel load, a sign several issues are plaguing the RB19. Mercedes suffered similar issues in their dominant 2015 and 2019 campaigns on the streets of Singapore.

All this opens the doors to other teams looking for a victory that would provide a highly valuable highlight in a season dominated by one outfit.

The first attempts of Q3 rewarded Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari, a full two-tenths ahead of his teammate and almost four-tenths ahead of Norris in the McLaren,

Mercedes, Alonso, Haas, Ocon and Lawson finished their first laps after 7 minutes of Q3.

The competitiveness of the VF-23 on a track where the SF23 is also doing very well should be noted, highlighting the similarities between the concepts of the two teams.

The closeness of the front group was immediately confirmed in the first moments of Q1, with a Ferrari in good form but less than what was shown in FP3.

McLaren, Mercedes and Aston Martin were very close, with Red Bull still in the doldrums.

A great track evolution rewarded the drivers who completed the second attempt first, including the Alpha Tauri, due to Lance Stroll’s accident on the last corner a few seconds before the end of Q1.

In addition to Stroll, Valtteri Bottas, Piastri, Sargeant and Zhou were excluded in the first part of Qualifying in Singapore.

In Q2, those excluded were Gasly, Albon and Tsunoda. The session was particularly significant, with Max Verstappen involved in three separate cases of ‘impeding’.

However, the FIA decided against penalising the Dutchman for any of these incidents.

Author: Andrea Vergani

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