The 2023 Singapore Grand Prix is the fifteenth round of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship season, which will take place on Sunday 17th September at the Marina Bay circuit. Having reached more than half of the Championship, it is time for analysis and possible predictions about the manufacturers' and drivers' rankings. The Austrian team Red Bull Racing can become world constructors' champion for the sixth time in their history and the second in a row at this event. The Milton Keynes team have a 310-point advantage in the standings over second-placed Mercedes. The title will come if a double will be achieved with the bonus for the fastest lap, for a total of 44 points, with Mercedes gaining one point. If Red Bull Racing achieve a one-two without the fastest lap, for a total of 43 points, and Mercedes fail to obtain points, the Milton Keynes team's advantage will be equal to the number of points still obtainable in the season, 353, but Mercedes will not be able to win in the event of a tied finish due to Red Bull Racing's more victories in the season against the German manufacturer. No team in the history of Formula 1 have ever won the championship with seven races remaining. The current record is held jointly by McLaren, in 1988, and by Ferrari, in 2004, who won with five races to spare. In the most recent cycles the record belongs to Mercedes who won the title with four races to spare, in 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers the choice between C3, C4 and C5 compound tyres, the softest type of compounds that characterize the entire range made available by the company supplying the tires for the championship. Since the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, Pirelli has always established the same type of tires for this event, a usual choice as it is raced on a city track. The typology, the same as the previous Italian Grand Prix, is established for the eighth time in the season. At the same time, Pirelli names the type of tires available for the subsequent Japanese and Qatar Grands Prix, before the previous Italian race.
In this regard, Mario Isola, Director of Pirelli Motorsport, declares:
"The closing stages of this long season, taking Formula 1 to three continents and 16 different time zones, kicks off in Singapore this weekend. This was the first race to take place under artificial light: an idea that was later followed, in varying degrees, by others venues . From a technical point of view, Marina Bay is a typical street circuit: very twisty (with 19 corners, many of them 90-degree) and little run off. As a result, even a small mistake can be costly, while the track layout also means that the cars run a high level of downforce. This year, the lap takes on a new look due to some building work in the Marina Bay area: the part of the track that was previously turns 16 to 19 is now just a single straight, which is nearly 400 meters long. This change will make the track faster; firstly because the total lap length is now less than five kilometers and secondly because the layout has become a lot more flowing. We'll wait to see if this change has an effect on strategies, because in theory at least it could create an overtaking opportunity - with passing notoriously difficult unless you have a lot faster car. This track doesn't place particular stress on the tires in terms of loading, but the rear tyres need to be carefully managed during the traction phase when exiting slow corners. Temperatures are usually consistently high, as Singapore is only about 150 kilometers from the equator. This increases the risk of overheating: not just for tyres but also everything else, including the mechanicals and of course the driver".
Starting from this Grand Prix, the Federation imposes a new technical directive, TD018, which impacts the flexibility of the wings and bottom of the cars. It is the second regulation to come into force after the regulatory change valid from the previous season, followed by the technical directive TD039 introduced on the eve of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix. According to article 3.2.2 of the technical regulations, it is established that all aerodynamic components that influence the performance of the single-seaters must be rigidly fixed and immobile with respect to their reference frame. These components must also produce a uniform, continuous, solid, hard and waterproof surface in all circumstances. The new directive also defines new constraints for the design of wings and supports. Tuesday September 5, 2023, the Federation announces that, during 2022, all teams respected the $141.2 million budget cap.
Unlike last year for the controversial 2021 season, the Cost Cap Administration reports that it has completed its review of the reporting documentation submitted by the teams and has issued certificates of compliance to all ten teams. In the previous championship, Red Bull Racing was fined and penalized in the use of the wind tunnel, for this season, due to irregularities found in the 2021 balance sheet. On the eve of the Singapore Grand Prix the top of the drivers' standings, Max Verstappen, defines himself as curious to discover how the new Marina Bay layout will influence the driving and performance of the single seaters:
"I'm looking forward to the night race in Singapore. Marina Bay is a cool circuit. This year it will be interesting to see how the revised track layout will impact the general behavior and set up of the car, I think the lap times will be much quicker. Singapore is probably going to be the most challenging weekend out of the upcoming races as the stakes are heightened on a street circuit and the field is usually very close, not to mention the heat and humidity. Last year we had a very unlucky weekend, hopefully this year it will go a bit better, and we'll of course do our best to make sure we score maximum points this weekend".
Sergio Perez proudly remembers the great race he completed last year in Singapore, calling it one of the best races of his career:
"I am looking forward to going back to Singapore, last season was probably one of the best races of my career. It was such a hard one to navigate, with the heat, the track conditions and the concentration that is required around a street circuit. Of course, I would love to repeat the win but it will be tricky, the new track layout is going to do things quicker in sector three and there will be rain, so it could be fun ! This weekend is my 250th race in Formula One and I never would have imagined I would race an F1 car that many times when I started my career. It has been a dream, and I am proud to have represented Mexico all over the world for this many years and I would love to give them another win this Sunday. I have a one-off helmet to mark the moment and I think it's going to look very special under the lights at night".
At Ferrari, Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur says he is confident in the difference that a single driver can make on street circuits:
"We go racing again at a circuit that could not be more different to Monza. The Marina Bay track requires a high level of aerodynamic downforce, to particularly efficient car in terms of traction and one that is well balanced, to give the drivers the confidence required to race between the walls in Singapore. Like all street circuits, the driver can really make a big difference here. We have done plenty of preparation work in the simulator and now the key will be for Carlos and Charles to do as many laps as possible in free practice, to extract all the potential from the SF-23. In Monza, we had a really exciting and positive race, and we want to continue that trend this weekend in Singapore, aiming to once again pick up plenty of points".
The Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr. analyzes the Marina Bay circuit as one of the most stressful for the tyres, an element to therefore keep under control also in terms of strategy:
"Here there is more stress on the tires, which it's a tricky one topic for us and it's also a high downforce track, so I expect a very close race, where the smallest detail can make the difference. Some teams that were behind us in Monza will be on ours level here, I know it will be vital to do everything right to make the most of ours potential. I like the Singapore track a lot, but this Grand Prix has plenty of pitfalls. First and foremost, it's a very long race, in suffocatingly hot conditions and you have to concentrate from the first to last lap, because the walls are always there to catch you out. I won't deny it can sometimes be good to have a Safety Car here, because it gives you a chance to catch yours breathe and relax for a moment. If the race is red flagged, then you can cool down and drink something that doesn't feel like hot tea which is what the drink we have on board flavors like after just five or six laps. It's pretty disgusting, but you need to keep hydrated, so you drink it anyway".
The Monegasque Charles Leclerc declares himself enthusiastic about returning to one of his favorite circuits and claims that it will be necessary to focus heavily on qualifying:
"As you know, I love street circuits, and this is undoubtedly one of my favorites. But its characteristics will probably note suit our car that well, because in the past it has performed inconsistently on high downforce tracks. Better to keep our feet on the ground, see how free practice goes and then we will have a clearer understanding. I think that in qualifying, the driver can make a difference. Whereas when it comes to the race, it's more a question of the overall execution from the team. I expect that, between the next five teams in the classification behind Red Bull, the gaps will be very small both on Saturday and on Sunday and it will be particularly important to prepare everything down to the smallest detail. Both in Zandvoort and Monza, we learned a lot as a team about the behavior of the SF-23 and I'm sure that here, we will make the most of the information we acquired. The goal for this weekend is to execute each phase as well as possible and if we do, then we can see how many points we can bring home”.
At Mercedes, the first statements come directly from Toto Wolff, who reflects on the importance of the points obtained in Monza for consolidating in the constructors' championship:
"We maximized the result in Monza with the package we had. That will be important across the rest of the season to secure second in the Constructors '. At a circuit that didn't necessarily suit the characteristics of our car, we were still competitive. It's encouraging to see that the W14 is performing well across a range of tracks. We've had some time to debrief an intense double header and we're now heading into another one. Singapore is a unique challenge for every team. The hot and humid conditions are tough on the drivers, team members and the cars. It's a bumpy track and there are some changes to the layout for this one year, too. It should make the lap more flowing and slightly kinder on the tires. The battle with us nearest competitors is incredibly close. It's hard to predict just how the order will shake out each weekend. Nonetheless, we typically perform better on high downforce tracks, so we're hopeful of a competitive showing".
At McLaren Lando Norris declares himself excited to be back in Singapore and defines this race as one of the most exciting on the calendar:
"I'm really excited to be returning to Singapore. It's one of the most exciting tracks on the calendar, but also one of the more physically demanding. Our car looks really cool with a limited- edition Stealth Mode livery design, so I'm looking forward to getting out on track. Last week I was back at the MTC with my engineers going over our performance and result in Monza. We keep moving forward and hope to keep consistently finishing in the points".
Enthusiasm also shared by Oscar Piastri, who claims:
"I've always enjoyed watching the Singapore GP, so I'm really looking forward to making mine debut at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. I spent time in the sim last week learning as much as I can, but as a rookie, it's a track that you really need to physically drive to gain the experience. Singapore offers some tricky conditions, especially with the high humidity. It's a new challenge for me, so that's something I've been preparing for as well. It can be a race of jeopardy, and anything can happen as we've seen before. The car has a slightly different livery for this double header, which I really like. Hopefully we come back with a nice result. I'm ready for the weekend".
Finally, Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, declares:
“We head to the vibrant city state of Singapore looking forward to the first leg of this Asian double header. Singapore always offers up an exciting event and at this special race, the MCL60 will have its colours reversed into an exclusive livery design with our partner OKX. We race in unique conditions at the Singapore Grand Prix, with high humidity and an offset schedule adding an additional challenge for our team and drivers. From a performance point of view, we've been working hard on our development of the MCL60 and look to continue this positive momentum as we head into the final third of the season”.
In Alpine, Esteban Ocon reflects on the challenges inherent in the Marina Bay track in Singapore, a difficult track from a physical and mental point of view although much slower than Monza:
"I enjoy going to Singapore and, although this track poses some unique challenges, I do feel comfortable driving there. It is physically very demanding on the body, which of course all drivers prepare for, but I think driving around any city streets under the lights is always exhilarating. Unlike Monza, the Marina Bay circuit is a slower, twisty track, making it a very technical circuit for us drivers. Furthermore, we know that a street track like Singapore can present opportunities to do well and we will be looking to maximize these chances and aim to get back into the points like Sunday and make my birthday extra special".
This thought is also shared by Pierre Gasly, who states:
“The Marina Bay Circuit is one of the trickiest on the calendar as it's quite a bumpy street track with lots of turns and a lot of gear changes. On top of that, it's extremely hot and humid in Singapore making this one of the biggest physical challenges of the year for us drivers and a place for which we have to carefully prepare. I do enjoy the track; I've scored points at the last two races there and certainly intend to make it three in a row. There is a slightly new layout with the removal of the chicanes in Sector 3 and instead a long straight leading into Turn 16. The lap is much faster than before and we'll if it's what it's like in Free Practice 1 and see what opportunities it might bring”.
William’s driver Alex Albon says:
“It's an exciting race weekend as it's kind of a home race for me and a special one for the team; we showcase our winning fan voted Gulf livery for the first race here in Singapore which is going to look amazing under the lights. We return to a street track which is very bumpy and quite uncompromising, with the heat making it one of the most difficult and demanding events of the year. There's been a lot of prep work going into this week, working our best to acclimatise before the weekend starts. Whilst this isn't a track that would ordinarily suit our car, it will be interesting to see how it does over the weekend, with the weather also likely to make things more challenging”.
On Friday, September 15, 2023, first day of free practice, becomes clear that he new layout of the Marina Bay Street Circuit drastically reduces the lap time. Thanks to the cut-out of the four corners from the harbour section that also included a grandstand, it takes ten seconds less than before to drivers to complete a full lap and it also gives the drivers one more chance of overtaking at the braking point of Turn 16. The lap time reduction is immediately clear thanks to the fastest man of free practice 1, Charles Leclerc, who clocks a time of 1'33"350, just 78 thousandths of a second ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz. Ferrari is already looking strong but FP2 will definitely give a better insight to what the real potential of the Maranello-based team is. This excellent performance may be partially motivated by the new front wing brought by Ferrari to Singapore, even though they are not the only team to have fit their car with upgrades.
In fact, many teams have decided to evolve their cars for F1’s most famous night race, both technically and aesthetically. Among those, McLaren has nearly introduced a new spec of their car: new bodywork, aerodynamic surfaces and suspensions and a new stealth livery with black as the main colour instead of papaya. Alpha Tauri has new floor, diffuser, sidepods, and mirrors, Alpine new inlets and cooling louvres, while Alfa Romeo has gone for a more conservative approach, by only bringing a new floor. However, a not-so-positive debut for it as on track action sees Zhou Guanyu, who has renovated his contract for the 2024 season, smell smoke out of his Alfa Romeo as some kind of damage or technical failure has occurred and cut his session short. George Russell does not go easy on Sergio Perez after he is impeded by the Mexican driver at turn 3. Finally, several yellow flags are waved due to unusual track invasions: some giant lizards cross the track and drivers have to be notified. The final classification of the session is Leclerc in P1 followed by Sainz, Verstappen, Norris, Hamilton, Russell, Perez, Alonso, Tsunoda, Ocon, Stroll, Gasly, Albon, Bottas, Magnussen, Lawson, Hulkenberg, Zhou, Piastri, and Sargeant. The top-10 drivers are all on soft tyres. Ferrari extends its domination on Friday with another 1-2 in FP2. However, this time the bragging rights belong to Carlos Sainz Jr., as the Spaniard takes off a whole second from his teammate’s lap time to set a 1'32"120 and finish the day in first position.
Still, Leclerc is very closely behind, with a gap of just 0.018s FP2 is the first representative session of the weekend, since it is held at night like both qualifying and the race. And in racing conditions Ferrari seems to have something more than the other teams, even though the classification is quite short, as Russell sits in third place just 0.235s behind Leclerc. Sainz is also impeded by a slow Verstappen after the bridge at Turn 13, with the two being a little too close for comfort. The weekend has started badly for Red Bull: both drivers find difficulties in setting up the car and cannot seem to find an effective solution, especially Perez who is struggling with a very loose rear. On the other hand, Mercedes appears on form as both drivers put their cars on the edge: Hamilton rides over the kerb and goes out at Turn 7, while Russell has risky opposite lock at the last turn, showcasing impressive car control. With Singapore being a street circuit and drivers progressively finding the limit in practice, there is not a shortage of barrier tap highlights, as it occurs to Magnussen and Ocon at Turns 3 and 4 respectively, whilst Stroll brushes the wall at Turn 13. A difficult day for Williams, which is sporting a special light-blue livery to celebrate their new partnership with Gulf, and which is going to be used for the next three races. In fact, Alex Albon is able to complete only five laps completed due to a power unit problem, while Logan Sargeant goes out in the run-off area at turn 18 due to a dangerous snap of oversteer. The qualifying simulation gives out the following classification: Sainz, Leclerc, Russell, Alonso, Hamilton, Norris, Perez, Verstappen, Magnussen, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Lawson, Ocon, Stroll, Piastri, Tsunoda, Zhou, Gasly, Sargeant, Albon. After a fantastic pole position and a podium in Monza, Carlos Sainz Jr. seems ready to continue his excellent streak:
"A positive Friday. The car seemed to be in the right window from the very first lap in FP1 so we kept focused on fine tuning the set-up during the second session. I expect the track to improve for tomorrow, so we should have higher grip and then we’ll see how much our competitors and ourselves can improve for qualifying".
After switching positions with his teammate in the two free practice session, Charles Leclerc is almost (positively) surprised by his car’s competitiveness but stays grounded, since he knows the rivals are ready to exploit what might be the only chance left by Red Bull to win a race this year:
"It was quite a good day. The car looks a bit more competitive than we had expected on a track like this, but we shouldn’t get carried away because I think that our competitors are not showing their true pace yet. We will work on optimising the balance on my side overnight and I’m sure we will see some further improvements for tomorrow".
Mercedes is right there with Ferrari. George Russell has the bragging rights over Lewis Hamilton as he finishes his Friday on the virtual podium:
"It was a very positive Friday for us overall. The car is feeling really good around the circuit. It definitely improved in the cooler temperatures of FP2 but equally, it still felt decent in the slightly unrepresentative conditions of FP1. The times were very tight between several cars. Ferrari looked quick, particularly on the single lap. The long run performance across a number of competitors was also strong but we can be optimistic heading into the weekend. We will do our usual work overnight and hopefully find some improvements heading into Saturday. I am really enjoying the new track layout. It makes the final sector, and the lap as a whole, much more flowing. It definitely improves the experience behind-the-wheel and should help create better racing on Sunday. The new track surface in turns one to five is also an improvement".
Lewis Hamilton praises both the work done on the circuit in terms of layout and track surface and the work done on his car, which has allowed him to complete what is, according to him, one of the best sessions of the year. The result is P5 just a couple of tenths away from his teammate and the seven-time world champion feels there is more margin for improvement:
"It's been a great day here in Singapore. They have done an amazing job with the track changes; I love driving this circuit now more than ever. The new track surface is great, and it made the track even more enjoyable to drive. Then the removal of the four corners near the end of the lap has absolutely perfected the circuit. It's incredible to drive. In terms of our day overall, FP1 was solid. We were still a little bit off where we wanted to be, but it wasn't too bad. FP2 was for sure the best FP2 session I've had this year. It was nice to finish a Friday feeling so positive. I think we've got a good platform to build off for the rest of the weekend. It's the best I've felt from a Friday this year, so I hope we can do some good work overnight, as we always tend to do, and continue to improve".
According to Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin the team has taken the right path with the balance here in Singapore and is looking particularly strong on the long run, even though there still is some work to be done for the Silver Arrows on the single lap, which is always crucial on street circuit like this one:
"We've had solid sessions today and both drivers have finished the day happy with the balance. There's a bit of work we need to do to understand how to approach the single lap on the Soft tyre; it didn't feel like we were getting the most out of the compound and George was able to improve later in the run. The long run was quite strong. It's always tough keeping the heat out of the rear tyres here but we look to be more or less on the pace. The performance order is interesting today. Ferrari looked fast, as do McLaren and Aston Martin and unusually Red Bull didn't look like the ones to beat. We'll assume that they'll sort that out for tomorrow, which is going to mean that a lot of drivers are fighting for the top grid spots. It's clearly very close so we'll be pushing to find every little bit of pace overnight. We're looking forward to an exciting qualifying session tomorrow".
Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix the FIA has introduced a new technical directive (TD018) which tightened the restrictions on flexible aerodynamic parts. Among those who have the most ‘flexible cars’ there is Red Bull, which is struggling here in the first Grand Prix of the Asian tour. Another problem could be the increased ride height necessary for a street circuit with high kerbs, but what is for sure is that neither Max Verstappen can seem to wrap his head around the problems of his car, all resulting in lack of confidence and in a final P8 which is very odd for the team and the driver that have been dominating the season so far:
"Our performance today was unexpected. We tried quite a few different things in FP2 and some worked, and some didn’t. We never really got the car together today, I struggled with the balance especially, so there are quite a few things to work on with the Team tonight. I will of course try to improve tomorrow but there's quite a gap, the Ferrari’s are looking fast. Let's see what improvements we can make overnight".
Sergio Perez is in the same situation of his teammate, despite Red Bull having brought upgrades to Singapore. Those include a new rear wing and a refined floor edge, which seems not to have any effect on the car’s overall performance. The Mexican driver places just ahead of Verstappen at the end of FP2:
"I think there are some interesting bits going on that we need to figure out overnight. We seem to be struggling quite a bit with the rear end of the car, especially in FP2. There are plenty of things to look at and hopefully we can come up with the best possible set-up before quali. We did expect the Ferrari to be good around here, but we are just too far away. All being well, we should be able to close the gap a bit more tomorrow, it will be quite a big challenge. The main thing is to improve the balance because right now we are too far off".
The new ‘stealth’ McLaren seems to be a significant improvement, at least for Lando Norris, who wastes no time in exploiting the revised car to bring home a good P7 at the end of practice, and also completing Friday’s working plan while showcasing good pace:
"I think it was a reasonable Friday, it was good to get the new bits on the car and everything's looking positive from that side at the minute. It's a nice improvement from what we had. I think it's done everything that it should have done, so a good job by the team to get the upgrade here and for it all to work as it should. I think the pace is reasonable, we might not be as good as Ferrari, but we're in a good fight for a good position otherwise".
Oscar Piastri is 15th at the end of FP2. Part of this result could be related to the fact that the Aussie is still driving the old-spec car, but he also believes there is still some work to do for improvement on his part:
"First day in Singapore done. A lot of learning. It's a tricky circuit and I think we've got some work to do on the car and some work to do on the driving as well, but I definitely learned a lot. I think we're in better shape with more experience for myself, but still a lot to go over ahead of tomorrow".
McLaren’s Team Principal Andrea Stella expresses satisfaction after a good day in Singapore. The team on track has done all the scheduled work and completed what the people back in the factory in England did before the racing weekend, by designing and providing new effective aero parts:
"Lizards aside, it's been a smooth first day in Singapore for both sides of the garage. We were able to complete the programme we had planned, which was centred around testing new aerodynamic parts and understanding tyres for the race. We're happy with the data collected. I would like to thank the team back at the factory and here trackside for the efforts that led to testing this upgrade, which has been adopted on Lando's car this weekend. In terms of competitiveness, some cars look pretty quick, but we will try our best to be in the mix for good points. Oscar is doing a good job finding his feet at what is a new track for him, improving run by run. More to come tomorrow".
Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson sums up a split day for the Grove-based team. On one side of the garage, Alex Albon has been very unlucky with some mechanical issues that have prevented him from collecting precious kilometres and data to build a solid weekend. On the other side of the garage, Logan Sargeant has had a good debut on one of the hardest tracks on the F1 calendar:
"A tricky day for us, especially on Alex's side of the garage. We opted to do some testing with Alex in FP1, expecting to complete the race preparation during FP2. Unfortunately, an issue within the ERS system of the PU meant that we had to end his FP2 after just a couple of laps on the Hard tyre. We'll fit a different module to Alex's car overnight and look to make up for lost time during FP3. Logan had a more successful day and completed his plan without any issues. He got some good experience of this tricky circuit under his belt and he was able to get a good sense of how to trade low and high fuel performance at this track. We've got a lot of work to do to improve the car, but we know what we are looking for and we'll certainly be able to make some progress".
As the man who is helping maintaining Williams afloat, Alex Albon has not had it easy, but he still tries to do his best and stay positive despite an electric failure which has compromised his first day here in Singapore. Despite that, the car gives him a good feeling and he looks at Saturday with optimism to prepare for the race:
"We think the issue is battery related; I started my lap and it felt okay but then I just started to lose deployment as I went on the straight. I think we already know the problem so it shouldn't be too long to fix but around here you want the mileage because it's such a confidence building circuit. Aside from the issue, the car hasn't felt too bad and I don't believe we'll suffer from any penalties, but we'll have a proper look tonight. With the temperature of the car here this weekend and the lack of running time, we'll have to do a little bit of guess work tomorrow, but it should be fine going into FP3 tomorrow".
Esteban Ocon enjoys driving at Singapore but feels there is a lot of work to ahead for the team if they want to improve over the course of the weekend. Of course, a 13th place cannot be enough for the Frenchman, who bets on Friday to find some more tenths and exploit the new car parts brought by the team:
"It's nice to be back driving on the streets of Singapore, a really cool and exhilarating track for us drivers. It was a decent, and very hot, Friday for us with plenty to go through on track during our run programme. First, it was good to drive here and experience the slightly different track layout and test some of the updates on our car. At this stage, I would say we have a lot of work to get through ahead of Free Practice 3 and Qualifying tomorrow in order to find some improvements. There's more for us to extract, more to come from me, and hopefully we can put ourselves in a good position for Qualifying".
Pierre Gasly is on the same page of his teammate. Ocon’s fellow countryman has had a slightly worse weekend so far (finishing the day in 18th place), but he also hopes for a better Saturday and for some help by the new track layout:
"It's always good to be in Singapore and driving at this great venue at Marina Bay. The heat and humidity is very intense for us in the cockpit and that is all part of the challenge of racing here. On track, it's been a busy day with lots of different items to get through. We have a couple of small updates on the car, so it was important to spend some time validating those from an aerodynamic point of view. In terms of our performance, I would say we have some work to do. We have a lot of things to look at on set-up and some things we can definitely improve ahead of tomorrow. The new track layout is good and it will be interesting to see how the racing is with the changes and see if it brings any overtaking opportunities".
Pirelli Chief Engineer Simone Berra gives the usual tyre insight. The teams have used all three compounds during practice and the Italian tyre manufacturer has gathered precious data, even though the quick and significant track evolution makes it difficult to compare the results meaningfully. Besides, drivers have exceeded expectations, by lowering the already faster lap time beyond predictions. Finally, Berra also confirms Pirelli’s recommendations for race strategy:
"It was a very useful day for us, as we were able to gather plenty of data on all three compounds we have here, both on short and long runs. The first observation is that track conditions evolved very quickly during both sessions, a very important factor when it comes to evaluating lap times, although it makes assessing the performance difference between the compounds more complicated. As expected, we saw considerable thermal degradation on all three compounds, obviously the most significant with the Soft. The new track layout has resulted in a much quicker lap time, which already today has dropped to the predicted pole position time of 1'31"900. The changes to Sector 3 will make traffic management slightly easier in qualifying, but it will still be something to keep an eye on, as is always the case on twisty circuits like this one. In terms of strategy, we think that, given the length of the pit lane, a one-stop is still the clear favourite, with the Hard compound predictably playing a leading role".
On Saturday, September 16, 2023, in Singapore there is a lot of excitement before the start of the FP3 and then the qualifying. It is particularly cloudy on the Marina Bay circuit and track temperature is 39 °C. Green lights turn on and the FP3 begins and the teams are getting ready to start this session without any rush. Sainz Jr. also confirmed himself as the fastest driver in Saturday's free practice session. The Spaniard was 68 thousandths ahead of Russell, while Norris took third place, ahead of Verstappen and Leclerc. Ferrari concentrated on improving their race performance, also using medium compound tyres in the session. Red Bull Racing, despite recovering positions compared to the previous day's sessions, still had problems with rear wheel skidding, highlighted at the time of the changes. A few hours later, in Q1 Sargeant set the first qualifying time, beaten by Kevin Magnussen. The Dane is soon beaten, in turn, by Norris, who precedes Pérez by seven thousandths. Further back is Verstappen, three tenths off. The Ferraris set the fourth fastest time with Sainz Jr., while Leclerc took the top spot (1'32"523). George Russell lowered the limit in 1'32"478, while Hamilton was fifth, less than two tenths off his teammate's time. Gasly, sixth, set the best time in the third sector. Norris then climbs to second, before Max Verstappen closes with a 1'32"398, his best performance. The Red Bull Racing driver's time is, shortly afterwards, bettered by Sainz Jr. He is unable to beat the time of Spaniard Leclerc, who remains third. The top ten drivers are within just 385 thousandths of each other.
The track improved steadily, so that, in the last minutes of the session, all the drivers were forced to rejoin the track, which also led to dangerous situations, with many cars proceeding slowly on their launch lap, while others, already on their fast lap, came in. Sargeant, who narrowly avoids contact with Max Verstappen, climbs to sixth, while the Alfa Romeos are further back. Yuki Tsunoda climbs first, while Hülkenberg takes second. Ocon climbs to fifth, before Pérez moves up to second. The arrival of the last drivers, however, is derailed by an accident involving Lance Stroll. The Aston Martin driver loses control of the car at the last corner, finishing at high speed against the barriers. The single-seater bounces back onto the track, destroyed. The driver is unhurt, but the session, which had already seen the display of the chequered flag, is finally interrupted, with a red flag. Bottas, Piastri, Sargeant, Zhou and Stroll himself are eliminated. In the second phase Verstappen is the first driver to finish the lap, in 1'32"307. The world champion is immediately preceded by Kevin Magnussen (1'32"170). Then it is Lando Norris' turn to take the lead, with 1'31"951, beaten, in turn, by Sainz Jr. in 1'31"893. Leclerc, on his part, was third. Sainz Jr.'s time also lasted a short time as the best performance. Fernando Alonso, in fact, takes the limit to 1'31"835. Russell did even better than the Aston Martin driver, with 1'31"743; Hamilton, who had equalled Alonso's time to the thousandth in Q1, finished fifth. Verstappen, after being put under investigation for impeding Sargeant in Q1, is further investigated for impeding Tsunoda in this session.
The World Champion undergoes a third investigation for stopping, in pit lane, in front of the green light. Pérez, meanwhile, makes a mistake, in his final attempt, does not improve, and is eliminated. Hülkenberg climbs to sixth, while Verstappen is only tenth; the arrival of Liam Lawson eliminates him, by just seven thousandths. No Red Bull Racing thus entered the decisive phase. Finally Sainz Jr. obtained the best performance of the second phase: 1'31"439. In addition to the two Austrian cars, Gasly, Albon and Tsunoda do not enter the final phase. The stewards also investigate Leclerc, for allegedly failing to observe the yellow flags, displayed in Q2, at the time of Sergio Pérez's mistake. The Monegasque was acquitted. In the decisive phase, after the times of the two Haas, Alonso took the lead, who, in turn, ceded the first position to Norris. The other Spaniard, Sainz Jr., does better, finishing his first attempt in 1'31"170, just ahead of Leclerc. The Ferraristi and Norris are the only drivers to use new soft tyres, in the first fast lap of the session. Russell is fourth, while Lewis Hamilton closes with the fifth fastest time. With the second attempt all the drivers use a set of new tyres. Sainz Jr. improves in the first sector, as does Norris, who, however, is slower than the Spanish driver.
Leclerc also improves his time, compared to the first attempt, but remains behind his team-mate. Magnussen closes with the fourth fastest time; Sainz Jr. is slower in the second sector, but still maintains an advantage over Norris and Leclerc. Sainz Jr. clocked 1'30"984, with Norris finishing second, preceded by Leclerc. Who does better than the Monegasque driver is Russell who finishes just 0"072 from Sainz Jr.. Alexander Albon had a time cancelled by the stewards for not respecting the track limits during qualifying (at turn 19). At the end of qualifying, Logan Sargeant is summoned by the stewards for obstructing Lance Stroll at Turn 8, during Q1. The American Williams driver receives a reprimand, the first of the season, and the British manufacturer is fined €5.000 by the Federation. Max Verstappen is summoned for obstructing cars as they were leaving the pit lane, during Q1, for obstructing Sargeant between Turn 17 and Turn 18, during Q1, and for obstructing Yuki Tsunoda between Turn 3 and Turn 4, during Q2. The Dutch driver of Red Bull Racing, received, in the first case, a reprimand, the first of the season, in the second case no sanction, while in the third case another reprimand, the second of the season, with the Austrian manufacturer fined 5.000 euros by the Federation. Carlos Sainz Jr. took his fifth career pole position, the second of the season as well as the second consecutive pole position for the first time in his career. For Ferrari it is the two hundred and forty-sixth first-place start in history, the fourth in the championship as well as the second in a row, the third consecutive at the Singapore Grand Prix. Says the Spanish rider, at the end of qualifying:
"It feels great to get pole position here on the streets of Singapore! Yesterday we already saw we were competitive and I think we’ve done a good job building up to qualifying. Q3 was super tight but we managed to pull off good clean laps and grab that P1! The race won’t be easy due to the degradation but it is key to stay focused today and prepare well for tomorrow. The team has been working flat out and we deserve a good result. We’ll definitely go for it".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari's Team Principal, adds:
"This pole position and our overall qualifying performance, is down to the fact that every aspect of this weekend has gone well with all the team, both at the track and back in Maranello, doing a very good job right from free practice. Our drivers have topped every time sheet and tonight, Carlos put it all together to take a brilliant and well deserved pole position. As was the case in Monza, qualifying was very closely contested, so that even though Charles was less than a tenth slower than his team-mate, he had to settle for third place. It will be a long race tomorrow and strategy management will be key. We will focus on our race, on tyre management, paying attention to the slightest detail at every point in the race, while being ready to take advantage if any of our competitors slip up".
Leclerc finds they had a strong performance over the weekend:
"We've looked quite strong all weekend and it's positive to see such good performance today. Usually, we've been strong in Singapore, so we know that we shouldn't get carried away. We've learned a few things at the last race and will try to take step forward using those learnings for the rest of the season. In Q3, I made a small error in turn 17, so it wasn't enough for pole, but we have great starting positions as a team and will work on putting some pressure on George (Russel) between us".
Lando Norris finds today is a good result for McLaren:
"A very good day for us today. I'm very happy with P4. I was close to the front - two-tenths - but there was not two-tenths in it today. I felt like I got everything out of it, so I'm very happy. The team have done a great job, so I'm proud of everyone. We're in a good position tomorrow to score some good points. The race is always very tricky around here, so we're not getting ahead of ourselves, but we have a good enough car to challenge, and we'll see what we can do".
While Oscar says to be deeply disappointed during the interview because he thinks he could have made to get into Q2.
"Obviously, it was a disappointing qualifying, however, I'm glad to see that Stroll is okay. Unfortunately, there's not much more we could have done due to the Red Flag. Our first run was okay, a little bit scrappy, and then we had an issue with traffic starting the final run, but I think it would have been good enough to get us into Q2. We'll see if we can go forward tomorrow, it's going to be tricky to get points, but that doesn't mean we can't try our hardest".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, finds today was a quite intense session:
"An eventful intense qualifying session here in Singapore, producing an unusual final grid. Oscar was unfortunately out in Q1, as we were caught out by the Red Flag. It's great to see that Stroll is okay but it meant Oscar couldn't progress. On Lando's side, thanks to the upgrades he has this weekend, we were able to get into Q3, where he extracted everything from the car and took a spot on the second row. Once again, I want to thank the team for the massive effort that made it possible. We're expecting a long and busy race and want to not only score heavily with Lando but also find a way to get Oscar back into the points".
George Russell is satisfied with their performance over the weekend:
"I've been really happy with this weekend as a whole. I've felt confident in the car and the team did a great job with the tyre strategy. We are on an offset strategy compared to everybody else, so we have an extra set of Medium tyres tomorrow which nobody around us has. So, to get to Q3, and then the front row, with just four sets of tyres and a strategic advantage, that's an exciting place to be. It was a challenging session in the car - sitting in the garage, it's like being in a sauna, and you just need to keep your composure and stay cool. The same will be true tomorrow: traditionally this has been a one-stop race, but the new circuit layout has possibly changed that. I think it's going to be close between a one- and a two-stop, and with that extra Medium tyre available, we can put pressure on Ferrari and try and force an error to get the upper hand. That's what we're looking for".
Lewis Hamilton underlines how they were able to challenge the Ferraris thanks to the car:
"The car was feeling incredible yesterday and we had hoped that with some tweaks, we'd be able to challenge the Ferraris. We made some pretty big changes overnight, and it just came away from me again, and we didn't have the speed today. It's obviously disappointing, especially because we clearly had a great package here and George was able to get on the front row. But tomorrow is a new day - and there is a lot to fight for. I hope George gets a great start tomorrow and puts some pressure on Ferraris; it would be great for him to get the win. On my side, I will be pushing to the maximum to go forward and see how the race unfolds in front".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, finds George made a good job by taking the front row and splitting the Ferraris:
"A great lap by George to get on the front row and split the Ferraris. That's certainly helped his chances tomorrow as their ability to control the race is a lot less if we can get between them. Lewis wasn't as happy with the car through the sessions and struggling to get the tyres to switch on; some of that was when the outlaps were compromised with traffic but even on the final run he didn't feel that the grip was there. We made a decision in the morning to keep two mediums for the race tomorrow but that meant we only had four softs in qualifying. There were times during qualifying where it felt like we might have regretted that decision as field was much tighter than we expected but at least we got both through to the final session and importantly it's opened up some unique options for us on the strategy and how we deal with safety cars. We looked to be competitive in the long runs on Friday and with both cars well placed on the grid we're looking forward to the race tomorrow".
And Mercedes' Team Principal, Toto Wolff, adds:
"I think we outperformed ourselves today. Singapore is a Ferrari track - they were strong here last year, too - so to get within a tenth of pole with George is fantastic. Lewis struggled more with the car, but we still have two cars in the top five, and that promises an exciting race tomorrow. As for our expectations in the race, we have got to stay humble and do the work tonight. I hope it's not going to be an easy, one-stop, cruise into the sunset - and we have a potential advantage with the second Medium tyre that none of the other teams have. So I think everything is possible - and the weather may a part - it's going to be an exciting evening tomorrow".
It is an incredibly bad day for Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen. The floor tested on Friday did not give the desired results, and the short time to work on the set-up did not allow the Dutch driver to get a good result in qualifying:
"It hasn’t been a great weekend for us so far, qualifying was hectic. I couldn’t break late and hard because I would bottom out, I’ve also been struggling with the low speed corners, we just had no rear support. It is of course very hard to pass in Singapore on the street circuit so I’m not expecting a lot tomorrow. We’ve had so many successful weekends this year, we can be proud of what we have achieved so far. It’s more important that we understand where we are going wrong this weekend".
Sergio Perez is completely disappointed with the result because this is not what they have expected. He explains that the issues were mainly the changes made to the cars:
"I had a complete disaster, I am really disappointed with the result, it was not really what we were expecting, it really hurts. We made a lot of changes to the car this weekend but nothing really worked, we need to understand it".
"We started really well with a nice balance in FP1 but then FP2 was very difficult and since then it has been tough because we have been making a few changes here and there but nothing seems to transform the balance. It has been tricky out there with the amount of sliding we have been doing and the balance is changing corner to corner. It made it worse that I couldn’t get my final attempt in Q2. The thing we are struggling the most with is ride and it made what happened there even worse. I had a massive under delivery from the engine, it kicked really hard and I ended up losing the car. It was a shame and today is a massive shame. Singapore is a street circuit and it is very hard to pass here, if we are able to score some points tomorrow I would be pleased".
"There’s a lot for us to consider this evening. First thing we need to do is put the disappointment behind us and look to work out what has caused our drop in pace and performance. We tried a new aero part in practice, but what we went into qualifying with is tried and tested. For whatever reason, the car just hasn’t responded at this circuit. There is a lot to do but we won’t give up on anything. Starting outside of the top 10 at a track that is notoriously hard to overtake on is going to be tough but we certainly haven’t written this weekend off. The points are awarded on Sunday and there is plenty to play for".
Fernando Alonso is happy to know that Stroll is fine after the incident. Concerning his performance, he finds Q3 was good:
"I'm glad to see that Lance is okay. My Q3 lap was good. I told the team on the radio that it would have been difficult to improve that lap time even if I'd driven round all night! We seemed to struggle a little in FP3: we didn't look very competitive, so we changed a couple of things on the car and improved it for qualifying - but probably not quite enough. It will be a long, interesting race for everybody tomorrow. We need to maximise every opportunity, but we must be realistic: there are plenty of fast cars in front of us, and we aren't starting out of position. I will try and gain some places tomorrow, but it will be a tough race".
And Lance Stroll is keen to hearten the fans of the Aston Martin team and Formula 1 supporters in general about his state of health:
"I'm okay. I'm frustrated as we have a big job - in the garage and on the race track - ahead of us. I was struggling for grip throughout the qualifying session. We had a bad out-lap with traffic ahead of my final push and we got stopped for the weighbridge. I started a couple of seconds behind Pierre [Gasly], so it didn't play out the way we'd planned. When I saw my lap wasn't improving, I pushed really hard in the last corner to try and make up that extra time, and that's when it went wrong. Let's see what we can salvage tomorrow in the race".
Alex Albon finds that P14 is the best they could have achieved today as he struggled with the grip:
"I think 14th is the best we could do today, so I was happy to get out of Q1. In Q2 I just didn't feel the grip I did in Q1, so I don't know if the long time in the garage or the outlap prep hurt me. We've been so mileage limited this weekend, so I feel like I've been playing catch-up all weekend and just didn't quite get there. The tyres seem to be so soft this weekend, requiring you to drive so slow during the outlap and cool down lap, so I don't think we fully understood that with the limited track time. I think ultimately with the tyre understanding there was more to be learnt but I don't think it would've changed the result too much. We haven't done a race run so that will make things a bit more challenging, but we'll put our focus on tomorrow".
Things are going much better in Alpine. Esteban Ocon says:
"Firstly, well done to the entire team for today's performance as it's a well-deserved Q3 appearance and one in which we've had to put a lot of work in. The car has felt good all weekend so far and we were able to extract the maximum when it counted today to put ourselves in a good starting position for tomorrow's race. Credit to the team back at the factories who brought these upgrades to Singapore, which allowed us to clearly make a step in the right direction. Focus now turns to the race tomorrow where we'll be targeting a good race and hopefully some points in the bag".
Although Pierre Gasly cannot be entirely satisfied with the qualifying result:
"It was a pity for us not to be in Q3 today but, even so, we have put ourselves in a decent position to fight for points in tomorrow's race when it counts. On our side of the garage, we've certainly lacked a few things and we have been playing catch-up in some places to try to optimise car balance. As a team we will, of course, review what we could do better to be better prepared for Qualifying and start more on the front foot. We made a good step from yesterday to today and that's positive for the team. Tomorrow will be a long and very tough race and I'm confident we can have a strong afternoon and progress ourselves into the points".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director
"It was a very spectacular session offering up several surprises, producing a grid that few would have predicted going into this Grand Prix. It means that all Formula 1 fans are in for a very unpredictable race, which will make it even more interesting. On this track, a one-stop to change tyres is usually the quickest strategy, given that time lost in the pit lane is one of the highest on the calendar. On paper, the best combination involves the Medium and the Hard. From what we have seen, one cannot rule out the Soft completely, but one must consider that the advantage it has in terms of grip over the Medium at the start is significantly reduced because of the short run to the first corner. In addition, this compound requires careful management on a full fuel load in the first stint. However, the Soft could be worth considering in case there is a Safety Car period in the second part of the race. Usually, Singapore can also throw up some surprises in terms of the weather, with sudden rain showers, some of them heavy, as was the case last year. At the moment, the risk of rain is very low according to the forecast, although more likely in the afternoon: that could potentially affect tyre behaviour if there were to be storms strong enough to wash away the rubber that has been laid down on the track so far up until this evening".
On Sunday, September 17, 2023, the evening of Singapore is set to be the magical time where the next Formula 1 race will be held. Sainz will start from pole, while Verstappen and Perez are surprisingly outside the top-10. Zhou will start from the pit lane as Alfa Romeo made changes to his C43, while Stroll will not compete, still suffering from the effects of the qualifying crash. A lot of drivers will start on mediums while Leclerc, Tsunoda, Zhou, and Piastri opt for the softs, with the Red Bulls and Bottas on the hards. Good start for Ferrari when the lights go out as Sainz manages to keep the lead and his team mate Leclerc overtakes Russell, who loses out to his team mate, Hamilton, who started fifth annd is already third.
"Is he gonna let me past?"
Asks Russell to his team, due to Hamilton going off track at Turn 1 to gain the place. He let his team mate pass on the next lap. Tsunoda on the first lap has a collision with Perez and is forced to retire due to the damage this caused.
Further back, Alonso and Ocon are now sixth and seventh, with Verstappen up to ninth from P11. Zhou is the first to stop to swap his softs for hards. On lap 7, Verstappen passes Magnussen’s Haas at Turn 16 for eighth, while his team mate Perez overtakes Piastri for 13th into Turn 1. Verstappen is showing good race pace and also passes Ocon. On lap 10, Leclerc is told to try and give a three-second gap to Sainz Jr. out front, while the Spaniard says:
“I could go forever at this pace”.
As he continues to keep the lead. Magnussen and Hulkenberg are respectively ninth and 10th, while Gasly is right behind them.
"I think Carlos is slowing down".
Leclerc affirms on the radio, while Lawson seems to have the same pace of the leader. Hamilton is trying to pass Norris for fourth, and sets the fastest first sector on lap 14. On lap 18, Russell’s engineer tells him to mantain the pressure on the Ferraris ahead, while the McLaren team tells Piastri that there is a possibility of rain hitting the track in five minutes. Suddenly, a yellow flag is waved: Sargeant had gone straight into the barrier at Turn 8 and is forced to retire. A Safety Car is triggered and the top seven drivers decide to pit for hard tyres, with the Red Bulls opting to stay out. Now Verstappen is second and Perez fourth. Leclerc and Hamilton are delayed to avoid traffic and emerge in sixth and seventh, while Alonso is seen crossing the line at the pit entry, with race control investigating the incident. At the restart, on lap 22, the order is: Sainz. Jr., Verstappen, Russell, Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Hamilton, Alonso, Ocon, and Bottas. Magnussen is 11th, ahead of Gasly, Piastri, Lawson, Hulkenberg, Albon, Zhou and Sargeant. Russell attacks Verstappen, while Norris tries the same with Perez. Leclerc avoids a crash with Norris at Turn 7, and this forces him wide with Hamilton, who takes advantage to move up to sixth. Russell overtakes Verstappen, while Norris passes Perez and Alonso is handed a five-second penalty for crossing the line at the pit entry. On lap 24, Norris makes a move past Verstappen into Turn 14, while Hamilton overtakes Perez round the outside on the exit of Turn 7, although he goes on the curb and wide at the corner, with the Red Bull driver asking for the position back. At the front, Russell mantains the pressure on Sainz Jr. for first place. Magnussen gets a black and white flag for forcing Gasly off the track, while Hamilton gets past his 2021 title rival Verstappen for fifth, down the inside at Turn 7. Also Leclerc makes his way past Verstappen down the inside at Turn 7, while Perez is under pressure from Alonso for seventh.
"It’s like driving on ice".
Says Verstappen on the radio. Russell has closed the gap to Sainz Jr. once again, while the top four are covered by just three seconds. Gasly is forced off the track by Magnussen, as the two drivers go wheel-to-wheel through Turn 7 and 8. Then, Magnussen runs off so Gasly takes the 10th position. On lap 38, Perez, Alonso, and Ocon have a three-way fight for seventh. The Aston Martin driver loses out to Ocon, while Perez manages to stay ahead. On the next lap, Ocon forces Perez off-line before making way past at Turn 9. Also Alonso and Gasly pass Perez, who boxes for the mediums. He emerges at the back of the field, with Verstappen also pitting a lap later for a set of the medium tyres and emerging 15th. Sainz is still holding on to the lead, while Alonso says on the radio that his car is undriveable. Ocon who is in sixth position, stops at Turn 2 with smoke coming from his A523. Albon is the first who pits for mediums. Then the Mercedes drivers do the same and emerge fourth and fifth. Alonso due to the penalty and the slow stop in the pitbox for softs is now 15th. Then he goes off at Turn 14 and drops to the back of the field, while Verstappen passes Hulkenberg for ninth. On lap 50, the gap continues to close between the top three and the Mercedes drivers. The stewards announce that they will investigate a possible VSC infringement by Perez and Albon after the race, while Russell closes in on Leclerc, and his team mate, Hamilton is even quicker.
On lap 53, Russell makes his way past the Ferrari driver at Turn 14. Also Hamilton overtakes the Monegasque on the outside at Turn 7. Verstappen is now seventh after overtaking Piastri, while Bottas retires with a hydraulics issue. Sainz asks his team for information on the gap to Norris, while Russell and Hamilton continued to close in but struggle to reach Norris, who is offered some DRS to help by Sainz to him stay ahead of the Mercedes pair. On the final lap, Russell, trying to get past Norris, clips the barrier on the entry to Turn 10 and goes straight into the wall. Lewis Hamilton is now third, while Carlos Sainz Jr. wins the race. Norris finishes second, while Charles Leclerc takes fourth place, with Max Vesrtappen ending fifth. Pierre Gasly is sixth, ahead of Oscar Piastri, Sergio Perez, Liam Lawson, and Kevin Magnussen. Outside of the points are Alex Albon, Guanyu Zhou, NIco Hulkenberg, Logan Sargeant, and Fernando Alonso, while George Russell, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, and Yuki Tsunoda are the four drivers unable to finish the race.
Good day for Ferrari as Sainz managed to get his first victory of the season:
"It has been an incredible weekend right from the start. The team deserves this win for the enormous work they have done both here and in Maranello and I’m proud to dedicate it to all of them and the tifosi. We executed the weekend perfectly on my side and I think we managed the final thrilling part to perfection, giving Lando (Norris) DRS and controlling the pace all race long. Of course, pitting earlier meant we had to make our tyres last for a longer stint and the final laps were on the limit, but I’m extremely happy we made it work. Tonight we celebrate, but from tomorrow we’ll start preparing Suzuka. Let’s keep it up".
Charles Leclerc is also satisfied with the work done by the team :
"I’m really happy for the team. So much work has been done in order to understand the car better in the past few weeks and today it paid off. Congratulations to Carlos who did a really good job all weekend. Our plan was for me to start on Softs and position myself ahead of George (Russell), which was the right choice and worked out well. Unfortunately, we lost some positions due to traffic during the pit stop under the Safety Car. Still, our race execution was good today so I’m happy. It’s great to see that we’ve made a step forward in terms of performance overall and hopefully we can confirm it next week in Japan".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, is proud of the team and proudly aware of the fact that they still can fight for the second place in the Costructors’ Championship:
"I am proud of what the team has achieved this weekend with everyone doing a really great job. We know we’ve been making progress and here in Singapore we managed to get everything out of the SF-23, thanks in part to the great work done in Maranello. We proved to be competitive in qualifying and today that was also the case in the race. Carlos produced a magisterial performance in the race, always in control of the situation, especially in the final laps when he intelligently ensured Norris had DRS to defend against Russell. But for traffic in the pit lane, Charles would probably have also finished on the podium. We are pleased to be the first team to have ended Red Bull’s winning streak and are happy to have picked up these points which keep us in the fight for second place in the Constructors’ Championship. Now we move on to Suzuka, a very different sort of track, where we will do our utmost to continue this positive trend".
Norris was second during the last stages of the race and drove a defensive masterclass to keep both Russell and Hamilton at bay:
"Incredible. Carlos, Charles, Lewis, George, and I really pushed each other hard all evening. The end of the race was very stressful, but it paid off. We knew it was going to be tough as soon as Mercedes boxed, especially with only a couple of cars for them to overtake - but we held them off, did what we needed to do and we're on the podium with P2, so I'm super-happy this evening".
The team is amazing, and I can't thank them enough for their hard work in giving me this car. It was good to see Oscar fighting his way through to P7, cementing the points for the team also. The car looked great in the Stealth Mode livery and it's just a great result for the team tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in Japan".
Also Oscar Piastri had a good race, he started 17th and finished seventh:
"P7. Not a bad night's work! Obviously, our pace was decent, and I feel that I took advantage of the stuff going on around me after a good first lap. All-in-all, pretty happy with that. I don't think there was too much left on the table there. It's great to see Lando on the podium and for the team to be rewarded for all their hard work. I'm looking forward to the upgrades next week and hopefully we can have some more fun".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is extremely satisfied:
"Tonight, we are celebrating a very good result for the team here in Singapore. Our aim for Oscar was to get him into the points, he did an excellent job, rising from P17 to P7. Our decision to leave Lando out at the VSC paid off with P2. It worked out well, but it was marginal and could have easily gone the other way, the end of the race was very tense! We had great pit-stops today, good strategy and everyone on the race team has worked very hard all weekend in tough conditions - but I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at the factory for getting this upgrade onto Lando's car and making this possible. We're heading to Suzuka now, where we look forward to another good race".
Lewis Hamilton managed to get the last podium spot, even he wasn’t very comfortable with the car:
"We rolled the dice this weekend and went with an offset tyre strategy. I felt like the race was a two-stop today and the team did an amazing job to get us back up there. Having to give back the two positions from the first corner was a shame, but I kept my head down and kept pushing. Overall this weekend, I haven't felt fully comfortable with the car. Today it was in a better place though. If I had had that same feeling yesterday, I think I could have been fighting for the front-row. That may have changed my race today, but I'm still pleased to get on the podium. It was extremely unfortunate what happened to George. We were pushing so hard to catch the guys ahead and our tyres were so hot. He's been phenomenal all weekend and I know he will bounce back. We're now looking forward to Japan so let's see what we can do there".
George Russell was pushing hard during the last lap, when clipped the wall and ran straight on into the barriers:
"I am lost for words. I think we were half a car's length away from winning the race today. If I was able to pass Lando (Norris), I am sure I would have been able to overtake Carlos (Sainz). Unfortunately I missed that opportunity. I made a mistake by one or two centimetres on that last lap, and I clipped the wall. It's a mistake that has overshadowed my whole weekend. Up to that point, it had been a fantastic race weekend. The car felt great, and the team had done an incredible job. Our strategy was superb, and we were bold and aggressive. It was exciting out there and it's heart-breaking to be standing here with zero points. Nevertheless, there are positives to take away. I will likely have a bad night tonight and even tomorrow morning. But I will put this behind me and come back stronger next weekend in Japan".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, adds:
"Lewis had a brilliant race, and he did a super job to get on the podium. It was of course a shame for George at the end. It was one very small error after a strong weekend but that's racing - he got it 99.99% right today. It was clear that it was going to be difficult to win the race if we followed everyone else's strategy. We were aggressive and took the opportunity to put on the Medium tyre under the Virtual Safety Car. The data was robust, and we went for it. At the end, to get on the podium was great and we were very close to making it so much more than that. Overall, it feels that we are continuing to make progress with the W14. We've had a really quick car all weekend, so let's see how we go in Suzuka. Bring it on".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, concludes:
"We had fun racing today. There were some brave decisions taken by the strategy team and the car was working well. It was a good reminder for the entire team of how enjoyable it is to be fighting at the front of a race. George couldn't have got to the garage sooner to apologise for the mistake; it's a shame not to take those points but we're a team and we'll always work through the highs and lows together. What we can say is that our fight with Ferrari for second in the championship is going to get exciting now. We've got a bit of margin on points but ultimately, it's going to come down to who's got the best car over the next seven races. This weekend will give the whole team even more motivation and energy to get back to fighting at the front week in, week out. We will take a number of positives from here as we go into Japan".
Max Verstappen looks forward to the next weekend in Japan:
"I think we did the best we could today. We had good pace and we were just unfortunate with the timing of the safety car, if it weren’t for that, I really think that we would have been in a good place to fight up front. With the strategy today it was really important to not make any mistakes. In the end I was able to have some fun catching up on the mediums. For now, the target is to win next weekend in Japan. Everything needs to be perfect to win every race in a season, I knew this day would come and it’s absolutely fine. Everyone sees how dominant we can be and they don’t realise how difficult it really is, we need to get a lot of things right".
Sergio Perez admits this wasn’t a good day for the team, as they had many struggles with the car:
"It was not a great day for us, it was as tough as we expected it to be, we struggled all race and nothing really worked. The safety cars came at the wrong time and it was similar with the VSCs, it was just not our day. In the end we were on a different strategy to everyone else and that was the best we could do. I think we have plenty of things to investigate after this weekend and a lot to understand as a Team. I think the issues were circuit related and we should be stronger next weekend, let’s move on and look forward to Japan".
Ocon was running inside the points but wa sthen forced to retire with smoke pouring from his car due to a hydraulics issue:
"I am gutted to end the race this way. We were performing well and showed some good pace today. The team were making all the right calls and we were able to have some fun on track with some overtakes throughout the race. Unfortunately, we had a gearbox issue, which ended my race. We need to investigate closely to understand what happened and to ensure it does not happen again. We deserved more today but we can be proud of our performance all weekend".
"It's certainly not the way I wanted to end my birthday but we have a chance to bounce back next week at my favourite track of the season and we'll continue to work together as a team to make sure we come away with a strong result in Suzuka".
Pierre Gasly brought home some points for the team:
"I am very happy to finish sixth today in such a physically tough race like that. I felt confident going into the race and I just targeted having a clean one, tried to be aggressive and decisive and we did just that. There were some tough battles but we got the best from it and maximised our result. A return to the points is important for the team and the car felt good with solid pace. It's a pity for Esteban as it could have been sixth and seventh for the team, so it's important we look into what happened and come back stronger across the board. On my side, I hope to enter Qualifying in a much better position to put ourselves in a much better place come Sunday. I'm looking forward to Japan next week on a track I love to drive".
Bruno Famin, Alpine’s Interim Team Principal, is satisfied with the improvement they made compared to Monza:
"The team leaves the Singapore Grand Prix weekend with eighth points scored, which constitutes an improvement after the last race. Starting from the middle of the grid, it was important for the team to remain calm and make the right calls. I am very happy with the performance from both drivers. Credit to Esteban and Pierre for how they managed the race in an intense tactical battle and tricky tyre management strategy and also to the team for executing the double-stack pit-stop very well. Pierre and Esteban did a good job gaining places during the race, especially Pierre from twelfth to sixth with a well-managed one-stop strategy, including some clean and decisive overtakes from both drivers. Unfortunately, a suspected issue with Esteban's gearbox prevented both cars finishing in the points. As a team, it has been one more weekend full of learnings, of which we can take forwards for the remainder of the season. On that front, we are positive as we will fly straight to Japan next week aiming to continue to build up on the momentum from this weekend".
Albon was running in a good position, but due to a contact with Perez ended outside the points:
"It should have been P8 today; we were running in a good position and had a great strategy. We did expect a safety car to come in around that period and we saved the new Medium set of tyres for that situation, which paid dividends in the race. We had a really good evening, we were coming up through the pack and were in P9 and getting close to Liam [Lawson]. We most likely needed a couple more laps to get past him but then I had contact with Checo [Pérez] after he went for, in my opinion, a very optimistic manoeuvre and that was me out of the points".
Alonso locked up trying to get into the pit lane, running wide over the white line and getting a five-second time penalty. He pitted again under the VSC to serve that penalty and endured a really slow pit stop that dropped him out of the points:
"It was an extremely tough evening: everything that could go wrong did go wrong for us. It's better that it happened all in one hit - and let's not forget it's actually our first non-scoring race of the entire season. We came here with pretty high hopes, but Singapore is quite a unique event - race pace is really dictated by the temperature of the tyres - and maybe we went a little bit too hard. There are lot of things we need to investigate from this weekend - there's plenty to take away and improve. We need to get better. Let's just forget about this weekend and focus on the next one in Suzuka".
Mike Krack, Aston Martin’s Team Principal, declares this was a difficult race for them:
"It has been a really tough couple of days for the team in Singapore. We only raced one car today and we look forward to seeing Lance back with us in Japan. Fernando's race came undone during the Virtual Safety Car when the rear jack did not engage properly during the pitstop. We need to analyse exactly what happened. Even without this issue, scoring points would have been difficult today. We will move on and learn from these difficult days. There is a lot of work ahead of us: we must understand where we can find more performance. There is still a long way to go this season - seven more races with plenty of opportunities and points available. A final word of recognition to the crews here in Singapore, especially the mechanics, who worked long hours in challenging conditions all week. Thank you to everyone".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes the tyres’ behaviour and the strategies put into place by the teams:
"Today's Singapore Grand Prix was a great advert for Formula 1. I think that all the spectators, those at the track and those in front of their screens, must have been holding their breath right to the very end, seeing four drivers fighting for the honour of being the first to put an end to Red Bull's dominance this season. Really well done to all four, but also to others in this race, not just the drivers, but those on the pit wall too, because they all helped to put on a great show with on-track duels and very intense tactical battles. On the tyre side, I think the word that best describes the day is management. For almost the entire race, we saw drivers and teams managing their pace in order to be in the best possible shape, not just to achieve the goals they had set themselves, but also to be ready to exploit any opportunity that might come along later. One example of this Is Leclerc's decision to start on the Soft to try and immediately pass Russell in order to build a gap between the Mercedes and Sainz, out in the lead. Or with Mercedes, who had an additional set of new Medium tyres available for both drivers and made the most of the VSC to change strategy and therefore go on the attack right to the very end, challenging Sainz for the win. From a technical point of view, the three compounds performed as expected in terms of degradation. The one-stop proved to be the quickest strategy, with the two-stop only working when the race was neutralised. The Hard and the Medium saw the most use, which was also what was expected, but the Soft, which is generally considered mainly as a qualifying compound, also showed it had a part to play in the first stint".
In a World Championship that threatened to end with Red Bull Racing's monopoly of victories, a red lightning momentarily halts a streak of absolute domination. Although it is to be expected that Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing will return to winning ways from the next Grand Prix, where among other things the Anglo-Austrian team can already become World Constructors' Champion, taking advantage of a negative day for the rivals, Carlos Sainz Jr. and the Scuderia Ferrari obtained a victory that undoubtedly gives morale to the Maranello team. Next stop is now Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix, which takes place from September 22-24. The World Championship is now coming to an end. Will there be more surprises?