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Carlos Sainz wins unpredictable and entertaining Singapore Grand Prix


Starting from 11th and 13th, what better way for Max and Sergio to make it into Wikipedia than storming through the field to score a miraculous 1- 2... not that anybody reads it.

We refer, of course, to Toto Wolff's sniffy response to the Dutchman's record tenth successive win a couple of weeks back.

We find it strange that despite the numerous issues with the RB19 this weekend, Red Bull didn't opt to make any changes under parc ferme, unlike Williams, McLaren and Alfa Romeo.

Though the two British teams made minimal changes, Alfa took on a whole new engine and as a result Zhou will start from the pitlane... yet no changes at Red Bull.

Of course, overtaking is difficult here, but only a fool would be against Red Bull scoring a decent points tally this afternoon.

On the other hand, the Austrian team's misfortune is all the better for us, for having been subjected to weeks... indeed months of speculation over how the championship would look without Mighty Max, today the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren have the opportunity to prove it.

The revised circuit lay out has not only increased lap speeds but offers another overtaking opportunity, so despite the naysayers we are looking forward to some epic battles and some canny strategy not only in terms of pit stops but drivers taking full advantage of the DRS zones.

As regular readers will be aware, for some time we have feared that the late Dr Mike Lawrence's talk of a Formula One Script Unit were proving true, and today is the perfect opportunity for Turk Thrust and the gang to come up with something special.

Sainz, Russell, Leclerc, Norris, Hamilton, Magnussen, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Lawson, you really couldn't write it any better.

Everyone involved has so much to play for, be it the big guns or the likes of Haas, and consequently we are expecting some real fun and games.

As ever, the race cannot be won at the first corner but it can be lost, and while Russell, Norris and the Ferrari pair will be sorely tempted, caution might prove to be the safest bet.

Following his heavy crash yesterday, Lance Stroll has wisely opted to withdraw from today's race, the Canadian now targeting a return at Suzuka.

With Safety Cars a regular feature of the Singapore race, this could be a factor today, and certainly one that Red Bull might be figuring on, however, the sheer physical and technical demands of the circuit can take their toll.

A one-stopper 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, though one cannot rule out the soft completely. However, 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, the soft 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.

The pitlane opens and the drivers begin to head out.

Air temperature is 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is 38 degrees. Humidity is 67%. Seemingly there is a 10% chance of rain.

Ahead of the national anthem there is a minute's silence in honour of the victims of the recent disasters in Libya and Morocco.

"It's not going to be easy," admits Norris ahead of the start, "just to overtake is going to be difficult so it will be about Lap 1, Safety Cars, VSC and all the fun stuff.

"I think we have the pace to compete," he adds.

"I can't breathe," says Verstappen as he asks for the cool air blower to be moved.

All are starting on mediums bar Verstappen, Perez and Bottas who are on hards, and Leclerc, Tsunoda, Piastri and Zhou who are on softs. All on fresh rubber bar Leclerc.

They head off on the formation lap, all getting away cleanly. The field splits into three packs, the first led by Sainz, the second by Alonso and the third by Verstappen, each seeking to get as much energy into their tyres as possible.

The grid forms.

They're away! Sainz gets away well, as do Russell and Leclerc. However, as they enter Turn 1, the Monegasque gets ahead of the Mercedes while Hamilton is alongside the Briton. Running out of track, Hamilton has to miss the first corner.

"I got pushed wide by George," claims Hamilton.

Alonso is all over Norris while the Haas pair are attacking Ocon.

"Is he gonna let me back past," asks Russell of his teammate.

Sparks fly, literally and figuratively.

At the end of Lap 1, it's: Sainz, Leclerc, Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Alonso, Ocon, Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Verstappen.

Tsunoda has stopped at Turn 14, the Japanese having climbed from his car.

Russell has passed Hamilton who is now under pressure from Norris.

Verstappen passes Hulkenberg for ninth as Norris claims that Hamilton should give up a position to him also.

At the end of Lap 2 Zhou pits for hards.

Verstappen is wheel to wheel with Magnussen as they battle for 8th.

The stewards have noted that Hamilton left the track and gained an advantage.

As Lawson almost collects Gasly, Hamilton allows Norris through to take fourth. As a result the stewards decide that no further investigation is required.

AlphaTauri reveals that Tsunoda suffered a puncture following a clash with Perez.

Even with DRS Verstappen cannot make a move on Magnussen stick.

Finally, at Turn 14, on Lap 7, the world champion nails the Dane. Meanwhile Perez passes Piastri for 13th.

After 7 laps, Sainz maintains 0.94s lead over his teammate who is 1.6s clear of Russell. Norris is 1.4s down on the Mercedes with Hamilton 1s behind.

"As soon as you get within half-a-second it's incredible how little front you have," reports Albon.

Lap 9 sees a new fastest lap from Sainz (39.626) as his mirrors are filled by his teammate.

"I could go forever at this pace," says Sainz as teammate Leclerc is told to create a gap to the Spaniard in order to protect him.

Indeed all 18 drivers are lapping in the mid 1:40.5s.

"Overtaking isn't going to happen on track," says Hamilton, "these guys are driving so far off the pace."

"Looks like they're going to sacrifice Leclerc," Russell is told.

Suddenly, Hamilton is all over the back of Norris.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Marina Bay here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 18/09/2023 0:19

"The start was good, the middle was only passable and the end was excellent. Some terrific racing all in all and very very happy for Sainz/Ferrari. They put on a great performance and Fred et al will be celebrating into the small hours. They do deserve the accolades for a well run, sensible race. Just a pity that Leclerc wasn't able to be on the dais as well. Russell was unfortunate but then that's racing. Some other notable performances ... Lawson who certainly showed potential and Piastri as well. 17th to 7th was highly commendable despite inheriting some of those positions. Once he has parity in upgrades he will hopefully be right up there with the top runners. Red Bull certainly have an enigma to solve but I'd be pretty certain that Suzuka will see them back to speed and that they'll be once more at the front of the remaining races. Singapore really does put on great race most times as it is a test of all the qualities needed to be an F1 driver, not least their physical condition. "

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2. Posted by Chester, 17/09/2023 16:57

"Remember when Fredric Vasseur claimed another team besides Red Bull could win in 2023? I scoffed at him on these message boards, calling it a fluke, and even then promising it wouldn't be Ferrari who won.

I am eating mud now. Clearly Vasseur had an inkling that the Ferrari was getting more competitive in race trim.

Bravo Sainz! "

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3. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 17/09/2023 14:47

"Well, that was a very enjoyable race. Sainz showed great maturity and skill today to control the pace; earning himself a well-deserved win. Norris also drove a great race. Alonso’s lack of pace was a shame as I’d hoped to see him joining that battle at the front. I’m guessing the trip over the kerb at the pit lane entrance much have damaged the floor. "

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