SINGAPORE – Amid the sea of bodies in scarlet red jumpsuits, Carlos Sainz almost disappeared. However, that triumphant roar was unmistakeable. After all, the Ferrari speedster had just done the impossible.
Not only did he win the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday night, but Sainz also ended Red Bull’s unbeaten streak this season.
The Spaniard, 29, started on pole and, despite pressure from the chasing pack, held on for his second career victory after the 2022 British Grand Prix.
He took the chequered flag at the Marina Bay Street Circuit after 1hr 46min 37.418sec, finishing 0.812sec ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes barely half a second further back.
It is the ninth time in 14 editions of the night race that the driver on pole has gone on to win. Sainz, who finished an impressive third two weeks ago in Monza, said: “An incredible feeling, an incredible weekend.
“I want to thank everyone in Ferrari for a huge effort to turn things round, we did everything right. It was all about knowing our limitations managing the race, making sure I made it to target lap (for pitting).
“It was all about keeping our limitations with tyre wear and degradation, and all about managing the stints to make sure I made it to the target laps we wanted to do in each compound. Obviously a safety car caused us to pit even earlier than we wanted and I knew it was going to be a long stint on hard.
“I felt under control to be honest, I always felt like I had the head space and the pace in hand to do whatever I wanted to do. I’m not going to lie, you are under pressure obviously, you are very close to making any kind of mistake but I felt under control and that I could manage well. We brought it home and that’s the best feeling, I’m over the moon right now.”
Ferrari’s last win was from Charles Leclerc at the Austrian Grand Prix on July 10, 2022, a week after Sainz had triumphed at Silverstone.
It was a hard-fought one in Singapore, though. Hamilton and teammate George Russell, with a new set of medium tyres after a quick pit stop on lap 45 during the virtual safety car, had the greater pace and grip, and were chasing down the front three of Sainz, Norris and Leclerc over the closing stages.
They got past Leclerc easily, but could not find their way past Norris. On the final lap, Russell’s desperation to overtake Norris proved disastrous as he touched the wall and lost control of his car and hit the barriers.
Norris said: “Carlos was very generous helping me get DRS (drag reduction system which allows the car to go faster), which helped my race and also helped his race.
“We knew it was going to be a tough race as soon as Mercedes boxed... But we’re on the podium, P2, we held them off. We did everything we needed to do and more, so I’m super happy.”
Hamilton was gracious in defeat, praising the strategy of Sainz and Norris. He added: “We rolled the dice this weekend, we went with a different amount of tyres into qualifying with the option to be able to do what we’ve done today.
“But the team did an amazing job today to get us back up there, it’s a bit of a shame the first corner (where he overan the turn) but nonethless I just kept my head down and kept pushing.
“Of course it’s unfortunate for George, we were pushing so hard to catch these guys and our tyres were so hot but we will bounce back, he’s been phenomenal all weekend.”
Leclerc was fourth to complete a strong outing for the Scuderia, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly (Alpine), Oscar Piastri (McLaren), Sergio Perez (Red Bull), Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas).
The grid featured only 19 cars after Aston Martin withdrew Lance Stroll following his high-speed crash in qualifying – his car was severely damaged and he needed time to recover.
With four F1 victories here, the Italian outfit have now matched Mercedes and Red Bull as the most successful teams at Singapore’s night race.
Ferrari are still third in this season’s constructors’ standings but with 265 points, have closed the gap on Mercedes (289) while Red Bull, who had won the previous 14 races in 2023, remain out of reach on 597.