2023 F1 Singapore GP results: Carlos Sainz wins thriller
Sainz led from the start, with team-mate Charles Leclerc passing George Russell’s Mercedes for an early Ferrari 1-2.
A safety car for Logan Sargeant nudging his Williams into the barrier sent most of the field into the pits, with Leclerc suffering a delay that dropped him behind Russell and Lando Norris (McLaren). He later lost a further spot to Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) when he ran wide after the restart.
A virtual safety car at two-thirds distance allowed the Mercedes drivers to use their fresh medium tyres and chase down the leaders. In a thrilling finale, the top four ran nose-to-tail to the finish, until Russell crashed out on the final lap. Norris held second, with Hamilton moving up to third.
Max Verstappen started his Red Bull from 11th on hard tyres but, after making early progress, the safety car ruined the team’s strategy, and he tumbled back from second place on old rubber. After running as low as 15th, he recovered to finish fifth.
Polesitter Sainz, who started on mediums, led soft-shod Leclerc, who jumped up from third on the grid to pass Russell. Hamilton also passed Russell after running wide at Turn 1 and overtaking him off the track. They swapped the positions back on lap two, and Hamilton let Lando Norris (McLaren) past too.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was an opening-lap retirement after clashing with Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, which damaged Perez’s front wing endplate.
Sargeant understeered into the wall on lap 20, which broke his front wing that then dropped debris as he returned to the pits – sparking a brief safety car period. Sainz pitted and retained his lead, but Leclerc – who backed up the pack – had to be held as cars were coming into the pits, and he lost places to Russell and Norris.
Verstappen started from 11th on hards and gained a spot from Liam Lawson on the opening lap and Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas on lap two. He then passed Hulkenberg’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen on lap six.
Verstappen stayed out under the safety car, which briefly elevated him to second, but left him vulnerable on old rubber. Russell attacked him hard at the restart, becoming the first driver to overtake Verstappen all season on lap 23, as Norris passed Perez (who also stayed out) for fourth. Hamilton gained a spot from Leclerc when the Ferrari ran wide, and then moved past Perez a lap later, but also ran wide at the corner exit.
Norris too passed Verstappen for third, before Hamilton pushed him back to fourth on lap 27 and Leclerc did likewise a tour later.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso (whose team-mate Lance Stroll didn’t start after his big qualifying crash) attacked Perez for seventh on lap 37 but lost a spot in doing so to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who pulled a tidy move to pass Perez two laps later and Alonso followed suit at Turn 14.
Verstappen pitted on lap 42, rejoining on mediums in 15th. Ocon’s strong race ended when he pulled off at Turn 2 on lap 43, causing a virtual safety car, which Mercedes used to pit Russell and Hamilton from second and fourth respectively to use their fresh mediums, rejoining in fourth and fifth.
Sainz led Norris by 1.5s as the race went green again, with Leclerc in third. Behind him, Russell began lapping 2s quicker than the cars ahead. Alonso suffered an off on lap 47 and rejoined down in 17th.
Russell carved into the gap to Leclerc and passed him for third on lap 53, with Hamilton following suit a tour later. Norris was 6s clear, but Russell rapidly chased him down and the top four ran nose to tail entering the final four laps, with Sainz reporting his tyres were “finished”.
Norris defended hard against Russell, which allowed Hamilton to start attacking his team-mate. Russell crashed out on the final lap, promoting Hamilton to third, who Norris just held off as Sainz won by 0.8s.
Verstappen was also on the move, carving his way into the top 10 on his new rubber. He made it as far as sixth, passing Pierre Gasly’s Alpine with seven laps remaining and finished right behind Leclerc at the finish line.