The 2023 Singapore Grand Prix will go down in Formula 1 history as a thrilling race filled with strategy, drama, and last-minute surprises. Carlos Sainz, driving for Ferrari, emerged as the pole-sitter and led the race from start to finish, but it was far from an easy victory.
Formation Lap and Tire Strategies
As the lights went out to signal the start of the race, most cars were equipped with Medium tire sets, hinting at a planned 25-lap stint on this compound. However, both Red Bull drivers, Verstappen and Perez, opted for a more aggressive strategy by starting on the Hard compound, hoping to manage tire degradation effectively.
Lap 1: A Quick Start and Early Drama
The race kicked off with a quick start as Leclerc gained a place on George Russell. Ferrari was off to an impressive start, with Leclerc and Sainz running 1-2. However, Lewis Hamilton raised eyebrows as he passed Russell off the track, prompting an investigation. Leclerc was on the soft compound, while Sainz opted for the more durable mediums.
Yuki Tsnuda’s early exit due to a puncture brought out the yellow flag in sector 3, adding an element of unpredictability to the race right from the beginning.
Lap 2-10: Ferrari Dominance and Strategy Unfolding
Sainz continued to lead, closely followed by Leclerc. Ferrari seemed keen on managing the pace and tires, aiming for a strong late-race surge. Leclerc’s fastest lap on Lap 5 showcased their potential. Magnussen, in the Haas, held up Verstappen despite being off the lead pace.
On Lap 6, Verstappen finally overtook Magnussen, while both Ferraris increased their lead over Russell and Norris. However, Perez was locked in a battle with Piastri, unable to gain positions.
Lap 11-20: Pit Stops and Safety Car Drama
Leclerc’s pit stop on Lap 12, despite not securing a 3-second gap to protect Sainz’s position, hinted at Ferrari’s strategy. Sainz was briefly slowed down, and Hamilton gained on Norris, setting the stage for a fierce battle.
Leclerc’s gap over Russell increased significantly on Lap 15, making it clear that Ferrari had a strong race plan. However, Lap 20 brought a surprise as the Safety Car was deployed. Ferrari double-stacked Sainz and Leclerc, while Russell and Norris also pitted. Red Bull, on the other hand, chose to stay out, risking their positions.
Lap 21-30: Fresh Tires and Ferrari’s Tire Management
Both Ferraris emerged on fresh hard compounds after the pit stops, but Leclerc’s longer pit stop due to traffic saw him drop to 6th. Sainz continued to lead, managing his race well.
By Lap 23, Verstappen had yet to pit and was under pressure from Russell. Both Red Bulls started to struggle with grip on Lap 24, losing positions after the Safety Car restart.
Lap 31-40: Ferrari’s Pace and Strategy Shine
Sainz’s strategy involved backing up the pack to assist Leclerc, but Russell was hot on his heels. Ferrari showcased their exceptional pace, and Leclerc even passed Verstappen.
As we approached the halfway mark on Lap 30, tire management became a critical factor in the race.
Lap 41-50: Red Bull’s Struggles and Late Pit Stops
Red Bull’s decision to pit on Lap 41 pushed them down the standings, and they were desperately hoping for a late Safety Car to regain lost ground.
By Lap 45, Mercedes found themselves in a fantastic position with fresh medium tires, putting them in contention for victory. However, trouble with Alonso’s pit stop added to the drama.
Lap 51-60: Mercedes’ Charge and Last-Minute Drama
Mercedes closed in rapidly on the front runners, with George Russell within striking distance of Leclerc by Lap 48. The final laps saw intense battles and Mercedes gaining places with ease thanks to their fresh tires.
However, Lap 59 brought a twist as Sainz’s front tires had worn out, setting the stage for a tense finish. The front three cars were all within striking distance.
In the final moments of the race, George Russell’s crash into the barriers on Lap 62 allowed teammate Lewis Hamilton to pass and secure a podium finish, adding a dramatic twist to an already eventful Singapore Grand Prix.
Ultimately, Ferrari showed today why they alongside their drivers both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s are not to be counted out at all this season despite a shaky beginning. The team showed strategic brilliance and excellent tire management which allowed them a well-deserved victory, making the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix one of the most memorable races in the 2023 season.