Formula 1 returned to Southeast Asia at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix. With a revised layout to accommodate the construction of a new multipurpose area, Turns 16-19 are now a flat-out straight section until the completion in 2026.
With faster lap times, almost everyone expected the championship-leading Red Bulls to be on top. However, the team that came home with a weekend to remember was the people in rosso corsa.
1. The smooth operator returned. Coming off the heels of the Italian GP, Ferrari showed promise during the free practice sessions, with Carlos Sainz consistently on top. The hype train continued during qualifying, placing him in pole position for the fifth time in his career.
Sainz maintained his lead throughout the race, and wowed the tifosi with a smooth P1 finish, earning his second win in F1.
Charles Leclerc managed to push onward, but a slow stop due to an unsatisfying Mercedes-AMG two-stopper hindered his momentum, resulting in a still-impressive P4.
2. The last few laps were a hard pill to swallow for a Mercedes driver. With four laps remaining in the race, four cars were close together in the fight for a podium spot. George Russell (Mercedes-AMG) was right behind Lando Norris (McLaren), who displayed incredible defensive moves to maintain P2 till the end.
Right on the final lap, Russell clipped the wall before the Singapore Sling, losing control and his position to teammate Lewis Hamilton. The unlucky Brit is still classified in P16 (for completing at least 90% of the race), but that mistake cost him a P3 finish.
3. AlphaTauri had been cursed and was blessed again. It seems that luck was against Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) for the second time after Sergio Perez (Red Bull) tapped the right side of his car, with bits flying out of the AT04. He retired on the first lap, a worrying recall from Monza that hopefully would not happen in his home race next week.
Meanwhile, Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri) continued to impress by finishing in P9. Paired with the new upgrades, the New Zealander finally scored his first points in the sport ahead of the people he replaced.
4. Aston Martin had a tough weekend. During qualifying, Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) heavily crashed into the last-corner barrier after his right rear tire caught the chicane and lost grip. Despite being able to walk out of the wreckage, the Canadian was not fit to drive on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) struggled throughout the race. He locked his brakes and veered off the pit entry line, incurring a five-second time penalty at the next stop.
Adding insult to injury, the AMR23’s redesigned jack stand failed, causing problems with tire installment and a slow second stop overall. The Spaniard ended his night at the back of the field in P15.
5. Where did Red Bull’s pace go? In another surprising turn of events, the Red Bull Racing duo were nowhere to be found in Q3. Max Verstappen and Perez struggled to find the pace and the grip throughout the hot Singapore night—even more so after they weren’t called to pit for new tires during the first safety car outing.
With what felt like “driving on ice,” Verstappen and Perez finished in P5 and P8, respectively, ending the young Dutch’s 2023 win streak at 10 in a row.
The battle continues in Asia for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix on September 24 in Suzuka.