Off the heels of a spectacular weekend that saw Carlos Sainz take pole and a 3rd place finish in front of the Tofosi in Monza, the Spanish driver found the top step of the podium for the 2nd time in his career as he took victory ahead of Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton in Singapore.
🇸🇬Incredible weekend. We managed it to perfection, controlling the pace the entire race. The team deserves this win for the enormous work they have done both here and in Maranello. This one for them and for the Tifosi! On to Suzuka!
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) September 17, 2023
Red Bull’s all-conquering RB18 finally seemed to show cracks in their armor with the least competitive weekend the team has had since Brazil 2022, as championship leader Max Verstappen failed to make Q3 for the first time since his driveshaft failure in Jeddah. Taking advantage of the lack of pace shown with the Red Bull squad, Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes sprang to life in a 3-way battle for pole as Carlos Sainz emerged on top, pipping George Russell and Lando Norris for his second consecutive pole in 2023.
Come race day, little changed with Red Bull as Verstappen was only able to take a top-5 finish after starting 11th, but the top 4 put on a show in the final 15 laps in an absolute masterclass of cat and mouse as Sainz led Norris and Hamilton to the checkered flag. During a late virtual safety car thanks to the stopped Alpine of Esteban Ocon, the Mercedes duo of Russell and Hamilton pitted for fresh medium compound tires in an effort to mount a challenge to the leading Ferrari/McLaren/Ferrari trio that stayed out on older hard compounds.
LeClerc in 3rd was easily dispatched by the duo, but once on the rear wing of Norris, Russell was unable to find his way past the McLaren as Sainz used Norris’ DRS to keep the Mercedes duo behind. Then, on the final lap, Russell made a lunge for 2nd place and in the process clipped the retaining wall with his right rear wheel, sending him off and head on into the wall, ending his race with only corners to go. Hamilton would inherit the 3rd position and attempted to pass Norris, but with too little track left the Mercedes driver was forced to settle for a 3rd place finish ahead of LeClerc and Verstappen.
the Ferrari victory puts an end to Verstappen’s historic run of 10 consecutive victories, along with the end of Red Bull’s string of 15 consecutive wins. In what will still be the most dominant season for a team, is this a blip on the radar or has the Red Bull finally met it’s Achilles heel? As the series moved to Japan for the ever popular Japanese Grand Prix at the famed Suzuka Circuit, the Milton Keynes squad has a chance to lock up the constructors title ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari.