Red Bulls 15-race win streak comes to an end
Despite being the dominant force of the 2023 Formula 1 season, Red Bull faced a challenging weekend in the humid streets of Singapore. After struggling to bring the car to life, lacking grip around the notoriously demanding circuit, their colossal record of 301 days unbeaten was stopped in its tracks.
The intense three-team battle at the front made for thrilling action beneath the lights of Marina Bay, with Mercedes grasping the opportunity for a two-stop strategy and hunting down the Ferraris and the McLaren of Lando Norris. Ultimately, it was Carlos Sainz who seized the win with a remarkable performance. Leading from pole, he maintained control and delivered strategic brilliance in the best race of his career so far.
In putting an end to Red Bull's historic 15-race winning streak, Ferrari’s triumph in Singapore repeated history. With Gerhard Berger, the team disrupted McLaren's perfect season of 11 wins in a row back in 1988. Now, Sainz has repeated the feat and thwarted Red Bull's aspirations of a clean sweep.
As the standout performer of the weekend, Sainz showcased his high calibre abilities which were particularly evident when he deliberately slowed down to give Norris a DRS boost. In doing so, he balanced the gap masterfully, ensuring Norris couldn’t overtake while George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were unable to pass the McLaren to gain the chance of claiming victory.
While Hamilton celebrated a podium finish, Russell faced disappointment. Crashing on the final lap, likely due to a momentary lapse in concentration, Russell's error resulted in Mercedes losing valuable points in their fight against Ferrari for second in the Constructors’.
Meanwhile in the Drivers’ standings, Hamilton's podium finish was pivotal. He now trails Sergio Perez by only 43 points and could achieve second in the championship before the season is over. This accomplishment also marked a new career record; Hamilton now has 196 podiums, surpassing his own record of 195 and contrasting his fellow podium sitters Norris (with fewer than 100 races under his belt) and Sainz, with 177 race starts.
Finishing second, Norris executed a fine drive as he fended off relentless efforts from both Mercedes cars. As a result of his performance, McLaren look like they may stand a chance of surpassing Aston Martin in the Constructors’ standings, providing they continue to perform.
In spite of Aston’s impressive start to the season, they’ve been outpaced in development by other teams, with Fernando Alonso declaring the car “undrivable” in Singapore. If Aston Martin end the season at fifth in the Constructors’, it would be a stark contrast to their promising first few races of 2023.
Another driver worth noting is Liam Lawson who, in his third ever F1 weekend, got into Q3 and subsequently knocked Max Verstappen out of qualifying. Lawson was the only Red Bull driver of the four on the grid to make it to Q3 in Singapore, notably the toughest track on the calendar.
Capitalising on his strong qualifying, Lawson gained his first ever points finish in F1 while also claiming AlphaTauri’s best result of the year. Surely this is only the beginning of a promising career, but few seats remain free for 2024.