Max Verstappen’s streak is over. Red Bull’s win streak is over. Another team has won a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2023.
Carlos Sainz put on a masterclass in tire management to win the Singapore Grand Prix from the pole. Sainz had tires that were 24 laps older than the Mercedes cars of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton but Lando Norris in second held up the Mercedes cars over the final five laps after they caught the top two.
That defense allowed Sainz to continue to manage his tires at the front of the field and become the first driver in a car other than a Red Bull to win this season. Sainz’s win snapped Max Verstappen’s F1-record win streak at 10 races and ended Red Bull’s streak of consecutive wins at 15.
Norris finished second while Hamilton was third after Russell crashed on the final lap. Sainz's Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc finished fourth just ahead of Verstappen in fifth.
Verstappen started Sunday’s race in 11th after he was eliminated in the second round of qualifying and Red Bull simply didn’t have the pace that it’s had all season on the Singapore street course. Both Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez started on the hard compound tires but a caution flag 20 laps into the 62-lap race for debris from Logan Sargeant’s car ruined their tire strategies.
Verstappen had won 12 of the first 14 races of the season and had won every Grand Prix dating back to the Miami Grand Prix on May 7 entering Singapore. Red Bull had won every F1 race dating back to the 2022 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
The win is the first for Ferrari since Leclerc won in Austria in July of 2022. That victory came a week after Sainz got the first win of his career in the British Grand Prix.
Sainz started the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago on pole and finished third behind both Verstappen and Perez. The win keeps him fifth in points ahead of Leclerc and behind Verstappen, Perez, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
How Sainz won the race
Sainz led every lap of the race and made sure to keep the lead while also not driving away from his competitors. Passing in Singapore is difficult when drivers are on equal tires and Ferrari hasn’t been the best at tire management in 2023.
Those factors led Sainz to drive as slowly as possible throughout the entirety of the race while also keeping his closest challengers behind him. It was a strategy that looked certain to pay off until a virtual safety car two-thirds of the way through the race for Esteban Ocon’s stalled car.
The VSC allowed Mercedes to pit Russell from second and Hamilton from fourth and put them on fresh medium tires compared to older hard compound tires for the leaders The two Mercedes drivers were cutting nearly two seconds a lap from Sainz’s lead after they pitted and easily overtook Leclerc.
But they got stalled out when they got to Norris’ gearbox. Sainz had backed up enough to keep Norris in DRS range on the straightaways and allowed Norris to get enough of a tow to be able to defend through the corners.
Russell did all he could to pass Norris before both drivers clipped the outside wall on the final lap. Norris did it first and was able to get away with minimal damage while Russell hit the wall much harder with his right-rear tire and his car skidded headfirst into the wall.
1. Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
2. Lando Norris, McLaren
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
6. Pierre Gasly, Alpine
7. Oscar Piastri, McLaren
8. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
9. Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri
10. Kevin Magnusson, Haas
11. Alex Albon, Williams
12. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
13. Nico Hulkenberg, Haas
14. Logan Sargeant, Williams
15. Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
16. George Russell, Mercedes
17. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
18. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
19. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
DNS: Lance Stroll, Aston Martin