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Sainz supreme as he claims Singapore pole


Ahead of Q1 the air temperature is 30 degrees, while the track temperature is 35 degrees. Humidity is 77%. There is a 10% chance of rain.

Thus far all three practice sessions have been topped by a Ferrari driver, and while there were doubts over whether they were running light yesterday, this morning suggested that the pace is genuine.

However, know that all season the Ferrari has had great single-lap pace only to fall apart on Sunday.

Right in the mix were the Mercedes pair, especially Russell, Lando Norris and Max Verstappen, though the Red Bull drivers both appear to be struggling.

Yesterday it balance, while this morning Max Verstappen was plagued by downshift and upshifting issues.

Traffic is likely to be an issue over the next hour, and it was due to traffic that a number of drivers failed to post representative times earlier. That said, sheer over enthusiasm was also a problem, which isn't ideal at a track as unforgiving as this.

With all this in mind we could yet see some shocks this afternoon, not only in terms of who falls by the wayside but who makes it into the final phase.

It is approaching 21:00, the floodlights having long kicked into action.

"This weekend has been quite a struggle," admits Verstappen in the moments before the session, "even FP3 was not very good. We got a little bit closer, but it's not going to be enough to get into a top position."

German media is reporting that Red Bull has reverted to its old floor and is also running the car lower.

The lights go green, and there is already a queue of eager beavers, with Sargeant leading the way, followed by Magnussen, Lawson, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Zhou.

In no time at all, all 20 drivers are on track.

Sargeant gets things underway with a 35.098, but this is instantly beaten by Magnussen (33.200).

A 32.556 sees Norris go top, while Perez can only manage a 32.563 and Verstappen a 32.862.

Leclerc goes quickest (32.523) and Sainz sixth (32.965), just behind Piastri (32.902).

Russell goes quickest in S1, the Briton running just ahead of his Mercedes teammate.

At the line Russell posts a 32.478 to go quickest, while Hamilton goes fifth with a 32.651. The Top 5 are covered by 0.173s.

Having gone 13th, Stroll complains that he was impeded by Sargeant in Turn 8.

Bottas goes twelfth, while Alonso aborts his lap due to traffic.

Ocon goes eighth, Sargeant eleventh and Albon thirteenth.

Tsunoda goes ninth while Sargeant has been noted for impeding Stroll.

Gasly goes sixth with a 32.654, as Alonso bangs in a 32.584 to go fifth.

A 32.398 sees Verstappen go quickest despite no purples.

Sainz now goes top with a 32.339, while teammate Leclerc posts a 32.406 to go third.

"I touched the wall on the left side," reports Ocon.

With 5:00 remaining, Stroll, Sargeant, Albon, Bottas and Zhou comprise the drop zone, with Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Tsunoda and Ocon hovering.

Tsunoda reports that he too hit the wall, "13, left-hand side," he says.

The final assault gets underway, Sargeant, Bottas and Albon the first to head out.

Hulkenberg goes quickest in S1 as Sargeant goes 17th and Albon 10th.

"There's so many ******* car," wails Verstappen.

Tsunoda goes quickest with a 31.991, while Magnussen goes second (32.242).

Perez can only manage second (32.099) as Lawson goes fourth.

As Russell goes sixth, Stroll crashes as he attempts to make it to the line in time to begin another lap.

It's a big crash, the badly damaged Aston Martin stranded in the middle of the track.

"I'm OK," he reports.

The front of the car has been ripped off while there is damage to the rear also. Replay shows that the Canadian simply ran over the kerb as he exited Turn 19.

To the relief of all he climbs from the car.

The session having been red-flagged, Race Control confirms that the start of Q2 will be delayed.

The crash isn't only bad news for Stroll and Aston Martin, for a number of drivers failed to improve their times, Piastri one of the big losers.

Quickest is Tsunoda, ahead of Perez, Hulkenberg, Lawson, Magnussen, Russell, Sainz, Ocon, Verstappen and Leclerc.

We lose Bottas, Piastri, Sargeant, Zhou and Stroll.

Meanwhile, the stewards reveal that an impeding incident involving Verstappen will be investigated after the session. Replay shows the Dutchman stopping at the pit lane exit and waiting for an inordinate amount of time... the cars being impeded being of the German variety sporting three-pointed stars.

Other than damage to the barriers, there is the question of debris and fluids on the track.

"I was in the last corner when the red flag came out," Piastri tells Sky Sports, "it should have been enough to get through.

"Starting the lap was like driving through a car park," he adds. "I'm glad Lance is okay as that was a very big crash.

"It makes our evening tomorrow very difficult."

The stewards announce that "several cars in Turns 16 to 19" have been noted for impeding.

Q2 gets underway at 21:53, Perez leading the way, ahead of Verstappen, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Norris and the Ferraris. Last out are the Mercedes pair.

The Dutchman crosses the line at 32.307, however Magnussen responds with a 32.170!

Perez goes third (32.310), but is demoted when Sainz goes top, ahead of Norris and Leclerc.

A 31.835 sees Alonso go top, as relay shows Perez running wide and over the kerbs.

Ocon goes sixth, Gasly seventh and Lawson eleventh.

As Albon goes twelfth the Mercedes pair head out.

Russell goes quickest in S1, maintaining a strong pace in the second sector. At the line the Briton posts a 31.743 to go top, while Hamilton responds with a 32.019 to go fifth.

"What is he doing man, honestly," demands Tsunoda of Verstappen, the Japanese driver gambling on one single fast lap having had his first flyer ruined after being impeded by the Dutchman in Turn 4.

Indeed the stewards have noted the incident.

Ahead of the final assault Verstappen is tenth and his teammate eleventh.

Magnussen leads the way, followed by Ocon, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda and Gasly.

Meanwhile, in the pitlane Sainz appeared to be released into the path of Perez.

Hulkenberg goes quickest in S1, as Perez spins in Turn 3.

As Hulkenberg goes sixth, Verstappen can only manage tenth.

Ocon goes 8th, while Lawson goes tenth, thereby dropping Verstappen into the drop zone.

Sainz posts a 31.439 to go top, as Alonso goes third and Leclerc seventh.

Verstappen is far from happy as he and his teammate both fail to make the cut.

Quickest is Sainz, ahead of Russell, Alonso, Magnussen, Norris, Hulkenberg, Leclerc, Hamilton, Ocon and Lawson.

We lose Verstappen, Gasly, Perez, Albon and Tsunoda.

Leclerc has been noted for failing to slow under yellow flags.

A nightmare session for Red Bull, with both drivers losing it in entirely different senses.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Marina Bay here.


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1. Posted by turbolach, 17/09/2023 14:27

"Smart race by Sainz, making optimal use of DRS to bunch up his chasers into a drs train, while preserving his tires.

I did notice something strange at the finish.
While Sainz was celebrating with his crew, a teammember handed him his watch in a, well underhanded, manner.
Sainz put this watch BEFORE going to the pilot weight check.
I am sure this is not allowed ?
granted, he is very attached to his watch (see italy).
The watch is supposed to weigh next to nothing, but is it that watch he got before the weigh-in?"

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