Start of the race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
After dominating proceedings all year long, the Singapore Grand Prix provided a first glimpse of a misfiring Red Bull squad.
Red Bull’s struggles flung the door open for a new winner in 2023 – but who best capitalised on Red Bull’s misfortune, and who missed their chance around the Marina Bay Circuit?
Carlos Sainz – 9.5
Qualified: P1, Race: P1
Sainz is going from strength to strength right now. The Spaniard was able to improve on an already impressive weekend in Monza by claiming consecutive pole positions, but this time, was able to control proceedings from start to finish.
Sainz performed on one of the most intelligent drives of recent memory where he brilliantly controlled proceedings and kept his rivals exactly where he wanted them by affording former team-mate Lando Norris DRS to hold off the charging Mercedes pair.
The Spaniard was ever-cool, managing an excellent drive that was well rewarded with a first victory of the season.
Charles Leclerc – 7.5
Qualified: P3, Race: P4
Qualifying just 0.079s slower than polesitter Sainz, Leclerc was unfortunate to not start the Singapore Grand Prix from the front row. However, an inspired call to start the race on the Soft compound tyre allowed the Monegasque driver to get the jump on George Russell and pass him before Turn 1.
Understanding the importance of a Ferrari win, Leclerc aided Sainz’s early control of the first stint. However, he was unfortunate to miss out in the pit lane after creating too much of a gap for Sainz with his losses compounded by being delayed to allow traffic by.
Leclerc was no match for the rapid Mercedes duo in the closing stages of the race and was frankly lucky to not fall behind Max Verstappen on the final lap after struggling with maintaining tyres and temperatures.
Lando Norris – 9
Qualified: P4, Race: P2
Benefitting from McLaren’s major updates, there was really no more that could’ve been expected from Norris. Qualifying fourth, Norris ultimately held position in the first stint but profited from Leclerc’s delayed release under Safety Car conditions.
After Mercedes opted to double stack its drivers to challenge for the win, Norris’ placement of his MCL60 proved to be the difference between second and a likely fourth place.
With the assistance of former team-mate Sainz, the Briton was able to keep pace with the leaders throughout but was ultimately unable to challenge for the victory himself. Another well-managed drive, maximising the potential of the McLaren.
Oscar Piastri – 7
Qualified: P17, Race: P7
Piastri was eliminated from qualifying in Q1 after being caught out by Lance Stroll’s crash at the final corner as the chequered flag flew. Despite the disappointment, the rookie quietly recouped ten positions over the course of the race to complement McLaren’s points haul.
The Australian’s performance was never expected to match that of Norris, with McLaren again favouring the Briton with its upgrade deployment. Piastri delivered another impressive, if understated, drive in compromised circumstances.
How much higher could he have climbed if not caught out in qualifying? That’s hard to say. However, Piastri continues to excel at McLaren and his maiden Singapore outing was no different.
George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
Lewis Hamilton – 7
Qualified: P5, Race: P3
Hamilton had looked to be on the back foot when compared to team-mate George Russell. The seven-time champion made an excellent getaway from the grid but was unable to do anything with his advantage after he had to take to the run-off at Turn 1.
After returning to his original starting position, it looked as if Hamilton was set for a long race with overtaking opportunities at a premium. The Briton drove patiently until the late VSC when Mercedes double-stacked its cars. Equipped with fresh Mediums, Hamilton began to reel in his team-mate and held a clear pace advantage.
Perhaps on another circuit, a shot at the race win would have been on if he could have profited from Russell’s inability to overtake Norris. But the veteran was rewarded for his patience when Russell clouted the barriers on the final lap.
The night ended with a 196th podium for Hamilton, but could it have been a 104th win had Mercedes swapped the running order?
George Russell – 6.5
Qualified: P2, Race: DNF
Having comprehensively out-qualified Hamilton on Saturday, Mercedes’ hopes of victory fell on Russell’s shoulders. Although he lost out to Leclerc at the launch, Russell regained second place during the pit phase under the Safety Car.
Russell then led the team’s challenge against Ferrari and Norris following Mercedes’ roll of the dice to pit for a second time under the Virtual Safety Car period.
Making some decisive overtakes against the likes of Leclerc and Verstappen, the ex-Williams racer was unable to swiftly dismiss Norris – a hold-up which made the difference between potential victory and settling for the final step on the podium.
But the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix will remain a missed opportunity for Russell, who clipped the barriers on the final lap, ending his race and handing a third-place finish to Hamilton. A brutal ending to an otherwise strong weekend, but a stark reminder of the characteristics that set the champions apart from future prospects.
Max Verstappen – 7
Qualified: P11, Race: P5
The Singapore Grand Prix demonstrated a fallible Red Bull and Verstappen for the first time.
Despite the circumstances, the Dutchman did well to recover to a top-five finish. Just missing out on Q3, Red Bull gambled with the alternative strategy on Sunday which saw both cars start on the Hard tyre – a strategy that was struck down by a poorly timed Safety Car, hampering Verstappen’s forward progress.
When he switched to the Medium compound, Verstappen made good progress through the field and came extremely close to snatching fourth place from the struggling Leclerc. The champion-elect finished just 0.3 seconds behind the Ferrari, having closed a 15+ second gap in the final five laps.
While the Singapore slip-up puts an end to Verstappen’s record run, expect normal service to resume next weekend in Japan.
Sergio Perez – 4.5
Qualified: P13, Race: P8
Red Bull’s lack of performance in Singapore really exposed the struggles of Perez. Without a car easily capable of claiming a 1-2 result, Perez’s deficit to Verstappen was only exaggerated as he found himself languishing through the midfield and unable to make the same inroads.
The Mexican driver clouted Yuki Tsunoda on the opening lap, ending the AlphaTauri’s race before it had really gotten started. With the collision deemed as a racing incident, Perez proceeded to make slow progress up the order on the alternative strategy, with a train of midfield runners forming behind the RB19.
Perez found himself well adrift of Verstappen after the switch to Mediums, but still made his way back into the points with a tyre advantage. A clumsy and optimistic overtake on Alex Albon at Turn 13 resulted in unnecessary contact and a five-second time penalty as he barged his way through, but would not take away his eighth-place finish.
Pierre Gasly – 7
Qualified: P12, Race: P6
Gasly was out-qualified and out-raced by team-mate Esteban Ocon but found himself in the right place to pick up some important points for Alpine.
Gasly made ground at the start, and was able to find his way past both of the Haas cars to run in the points on merit. Retirements for Ocon and Russell further benefited the Frenchman, who kept his nose clean in an otherwise quiet race.
Esteban Ocon– 8
Qualified: P8, Race: DNF
Ocon looked to turn around Alpine’s disastrous Monza weekend and appeared to be a credible points contender after an impressive run in qualifying.
The Frenchman’s strong Singapore weekend continued in the race after fighting his way to the front of the midfield battle, which involved a three-way scrap with Alonso and Perez in which Ocon masterfully dismissed both.
However. his efforts went unrewarded when he retired from the race when he ground to a halt with gearbox issues, triggering a late VSC, to mark an underserved end.
Liam Lawson (NZL) AlphaTauri AT04. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images
Liam Lawson – 8
Qualified: P10, Race: P9
Still filling in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo, Lawson continues to stake his claim to a full-time Formula 1 seat. In just his third F1 weekend, Lawson was responsible for Verstappen’s Q2 elimination and drove well to secure his maiden points in the series.
Without the benchmark of his team-mate, Lawson outclassed more experienced drivers and worked his way through the chaos to pick up vital points for AlphaTauri. While admittedly there is room for improvement on his race starts as he lost positions early on, Lawson is otherwise doing everything asked of him.
Yuki Tsunoda – 5
Qualified: P15, Race: DNF
Another disappointing weekend for Tsunoda, who cannot catch a break right now. Compromised in qualifying by a close call with Verstappen, Tsunoda would fail to set a time in Q2.
Tsunoda had shown decent pace all weekend with AlphaTauri’s raft of upgrades but wasn’t able to make a mark in the race after a collision with Perez sent him out of the race on Lap 1. The Japanese representative will be hoping to be rid of this recent slump in time for his home race next weekend.
Kevin Magnussen – 7
Qualified: P6, Race: P10
Magnussen reversed the tide in qualifying, finally getting the better of his team-mate as Haas remarkably managed to get both cars into Q3. The pair both made a valiant effort to hold onto points in the race and benefitted from Safety Car interventions.
After losing ground early on, a switch to Softs under the VSC saw Magnussen pass Hulkenberg and Zhou in the closing stages before being further promoted by incidents for Russell and Albon.
Although a single point isn’t enough to make a sizeable debt in the team’s deficit to Williams, it was certainly a stronger weekend overall for Magnussen and the Haas outfit.
Nico Hulkenberg – 5.5
Qualified: P9, Race: P13
Hulkenberg was again a feature in Q3 but suffered a rare defeat to his team-mate. While slipping down the order, the German’s slim chance at points vanished when the team opted not to pit him under the VSC, proven by the exploits of Magnussen.
Altogether, not a bad weekend for Haas – although the promised upgrades for Austin seemingly can’t come soon enough to improve its race-day potential.
Alex Albon – 6
Qualified: P14, Race: P11
The high-downforce Singapore street circuit was always going to prove to be a challenge for Williams, but Albon came extremely close to taking a surprise point for the Grove-based team.
Closing in on Lawson for a points finish, Albon’s chances were discarded when Perez barged his way past at Turn 13. Another competent drive from the 27-year-old, who overcame setbacks earlier in the weekend in a performance deserving of points.
Logan Sargeant (USA) Williams Racing FW45 with a broken front wing. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
Logan Sargeant – 4
Qualified: P18, Race: P13
With a several-tenth deficit to Albon in qualifying, it was a tricky first visit to Singapore for Sargeant. The under-pressure rookie kept pace with the midfield until a mistake saw him find the barriers resulting in the Safety Car’s deployment.
The American was unable to recover from the incident and continues to wait for his first F1 points.
Guanyu Zhou – 5.5
Qualified: P19, Race: P12
After a pretty terrible qualifying, Alfa Romeo opted to start Zhou from the pitlane on the alternate strategy. He returned to the pits at the end of Lap 1 in a bold strategy call that did not benefit from the timing of the early Safety Car on Lap 20.
Zhou gained track position when he stayed out during the later VSC which vaulted him to P10, however, he was unable to keep faster cars at bay.
Valtteri Bottas – 5.5
Qualified: P16, Race: DNF
The Singapore Grand Prix was another anonymous affair for the Finn who had gotten the better of his team-mate in qualifying.
Also on the alternate strategy, Bottas lost out due to the timing of the Safety Car before quetly retiring with gearbox issues.
Fernando Alonso – 4
Qualified: P7, Race: P15
Alonso will want to forget his Singapore Grand Prix as he drove to a first non-points finish this season.
After believing he maximised the potential in qualifying, the Spaniard made a series of mistakes in the race, including picking up a five-second time penalty for an uncontrolled pit entry.
The real penalty came when his pitstop clocked 25 seconds which added insult to injury in a miserable weekend for Aston Martin.
Lance Stroll – 2
Qualified: P20, Race: DNS
Impeded on his first run in qualifying and then delayed by a trip to the weighbridge, Stroll had it all to do in his final Q1 run. However, the Canadian ran wide at the final corner when already not improving, his car bottoming out and spearing into the outside barriers.
The crash tore his AMR23 apart and Stroll was withdrawn from the race as a result of his costly excursion.
Keyword: Motorsport Week’s F1 2023 Singapore GP Driver Ratings