After 301 days spread over 15 races, Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s record-breaking dominance came to an end on a glorious night at Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore with none other than Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz at the top of the podium. The last time a non-Red Bull driver saw first place on the podium before September 17th, 2023, was November 13th, 2022, in São Paulo, Brazil where Mercedes driver George Russell, took his maiden win. Since then, only Max Vertsappen and Sergio Perez have tasted the glory of first place.
However, the Singapore Grand Prix brought nail-biting action until the very end, with the top five putting on a show of constant wheel to wheel action for spectators across the world this weekend. With a 5.000s gap separating the front of the pack for most of the race, it was unsure until the very end whether the winner would be Carlos Sainz, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris or Lewis Hamilton. As the race progressed though, Charles Leclerc fell back to fifth and later fourth to end the race as George Russell found himself in the barriers of the final lap just seconds away from an honourable chequered flag. Nevertheless, Mercedes still found themselves on the podium with 7-time world drivers’ champion, Lewis Hamilton, finishing in P3, just +1.269 seconds behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Norris, who found himself +0.812 seconds away from Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari at the end, played a crucial role in the last laps of the Spaniard’s dominance ending race. After the two Mercedes drivers found themselves pitting for a second time, the McLaren ex-teammates realized they had to defend against the silver arrows on finished tires, leaving them at a disadvantage. Thankfully, Sainz was quick to think of a new strategy in the heat of the moment, which allowed both drivers to take home P1 and P2 to their respective teams.
Carlos Sainz alarmingly began to slow down in the Drag Reduction System (DRS) zones in hopes of closing the gap with Lando Norris, to a second or less. This allowed them to activate their DRS and gain momentum to extend their lead from the hungry Mercedes who had been predicted for a glorious P1-2 finish. Despite it being a risky move from Sainz and putting his win on the line, which caused panic from his race engineer Riccardo Adami, he managed to keep both his cool and his win in the Singapore Grand Prix heat. In the end, the duo dubbed ‘Carlando’ was victorious in their showstopping strategy. Thanks to Carlos Sainz’ rally like intelligence, he helped himself get P1 by giving Norris an advantage to stay in P2 to defend the pair’s standings.
Skillful driving, intelligence, instincts and determination from the Spaniard throughout the 62 laps that he led from pole position were what brought Ferrari home their first victory of not only the 2023 season but also their first victory in 434 days, since July 10th, 2022, at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Following the masterclass that ended Red Bulls’ dominance, some could argue the nickname of ‘El Matador’ from his father, Carlos Sainz Sr, a two-time world rally champion, would be fitting for Carlos Sainz Jr. The dark horse of Ferrari has been excelling in the second half of the season and many hope to see what else can be vanquished by him before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.