Carlos Sainz claims his first win for Ferrari and second of his F1 career in Singapore; Spaniard comes home less than a second ahead of Lando Norris; Lewis Hamilton completes podium after George Russell crashes out on final lap; Max Verstappen fifth as his and Red Bull’s win streak ends.
By Jonathan Green in Singapore
Last Updated: 17/09/23 3:39pm
Carlos Sainz withstood a thrilling finish to the Singapore Grand Prix to claim Ferrari’s first win since July 2022 and end Red Bull’s victory run.
Sainz led from lights out to the chequered flag as he cleverly managed the race to secure the second F1 win of his career by just 0.812 seconds from Lando Norris.
Mercedes had set up a grandstand finish by pitting both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton for fresh medium tyres under a Virtual Safety Car with 18 laps to go.
But Sainz helped former McLaren team-mate Norris defend against the two Mercedes with DRS availability and Russell crashed out on the final lap in his last-ditch efforts to catch Norris, opening the door for Hamilton to complete the podium
Meanwhile, Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s record winning runs will stay at 15 and 10 consecutive victories respectively.
Verstappen eventually came home fifth, behind Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari who had lost out in the pit stops during an early Safety Car period.
Pierre Gasly was sixth in the Alpine – whose team-mate Esteban Ocon had caused the late VSC after stopping on track – ahead of Oscar Piastri who drove a brilliant recovery from 17th on the grid.
Sergio Perez was eighth in the second Red Bull ahead of Liam Lawson, who claimed his first points in Formula 1.
Kevin Magnussen claimed the final point-scoring position in 10th for Haas.
Singapore GP result
1) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
2) Lando Norris, McLaren
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
6) Pierre Gasly, Alpine
7) Oscar Piastri, McLaren
8) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
9) Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri
10) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
Sainz ends Ferrari win drought but Leclerc loses out
Sainz got away well off the line to hold onto the lead while team-mate Leclerc, who opted to start on the soft tyre unlike those around him, got past Russell before Turn One.
Hamilton also started brilliantly from fifth and was alongside Russell into Turn One but had to take to the run-off zone to avoid contact, with the seven-time world champion then having to give up positions to Russell and Norris having gained an advantage off track.
Verstappen was able to get past Liam Lawson and Nico Hulkenberg in the opening two laps and had made his way up to eighth by lap eight as he passed Magnussen.
Red Bull started Verstappen and Perez on hard tyres in a bid to make up positions when those ahead pitted earlier, and the Dutchman found himself being told over team radio to fall back from Ocon in seventh during the early stages to avoid wrecking his tyres.
And out front, Leclerc was frequently being told by Ferrari to let Sainz build a gap in the lead to make a pit stop possible.
However, debris left behind by Logan Sargeant hitting the wall at Turn Eight on lap 19 required a Safety Car and Leclerc was the big loser as Ferrari were forced to hold him in his box for traffic, losing four places.
Red Bull did not pit Verstappen and Perez which initially lifted them into second and fourth, but after the Safety Car came back in Russell swiftly passed Verstappen before Norris made his way past the two Red Bulls to move up to third.
The two Red Bulls continued to fall backwards and after eventually pitting on laps 40 and 41, Verstappen and Perez found themselves 15th and 18th.
Mercedes set up grandstand finish
The race at the front was blown wide open on lap 43 when Ocon ground to a halt in a smoking Alpine at the exit of the pit lane.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed and Mercedes made the call to pit Russell from second and Hamilton from fourth for fresh medium tyres that the Silver Arrows had saved.
That gave them 18 laps in clear air to chase down Leclerc, Norris and Sainz, and both Mercedes drivers made swift work of getting past Leclerc with 10 laps remaining.
As the race entered its final five laps, just 2.5 seconds covered the top four and with three laps to go Russell made an attack on Norris.
The pair went wheel to wheel, but Norris was able to hold onto second, enabling leader Sainz to build a bit of a gap ahead.
But the Ferrari driver cleverly allowed Norris to close back to within DRS range again to help his defence, and as Russell attempted an attack on the final lap, he clipped the wall with his front left tyre at Turn 10 to crash out.
In the end, just 1.2 seconds covered the top three, with Sainz’s victory Ferrari’s first since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.
What happened behind as Verstappen and Red Bull have to settle for fifth
Red Bull had opted for the hard tyre for Verstappen and Perez in the hope of leapfrogging cars ahead when they pitted, but the Safety Car for Sargeant’s crash left them unable to capitalise and they swiftly fell back once racing resumed.
But having been in the bottom three runners when they came out after their pit stops, Verstappen and Perez were able to climb back into the points to finish fifth and eighth on their fresher medium tyres.
Verstappen now leads Perez by 151 points in the Drivers’ Championship while Red Bull will have a second opportunity to win the Constructors’ Championship next weekend in Japan.
Hamilton is up to third in the Drivers’ Championship after his third-place finish, moving above Fernando Alonso who ended up having a torrid evening in the Aston Martin.
The Spaniard received a five-second time penalty for a pit-entry infringement, then suffered a slow pit stop after serving his penalty before going wide at Turn 14 to be last of the cars to finish in 15th.
But in his third race for AlphaTauri, Lawson again pressed his claim for a full-time race seat in 2024 by recovering from losing places in the opening laps to come home ninth.
Get ready to set those early alarms as Formula 1 now heads to Suzuka for the Japanese GP. Watch all sessions live on Sky Sports F1 from September 22-24. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel anytime