Carlos Sainz secured his second consecutive pole position for Ferrari, but the struggles of Red Bull and Max Verstappen were the main story at the end of qualifying for the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.
Winner of the last 10 races, Verstappen will start far back in the order on Sunday after a disastrous qualifying session as the 2023 Red Bull’s irresistible pace mysteriously abandoned them at Marina Bay.
Here are the main winners and losers of the qualifiers…
After taking pole for Ferrari at Monza with another here – in the same car as Singaporean specialist Charles Leclerc – these are the best days of Carlos Sainz’s Formula 1 career.
Victory may have slipped out of his grasp in Italy two weeks ago, but he emerged from that weekend with enormous credit – widely praised for the courage and heart he had shown in the face of what proved to be an inevitable defeat.
The Singapore layout, with its mix of slow 90-degree corners and straights, is almost ideal for the 2023 Ferrari.
And with the old Marina section under the grandstand replaced by a further all-out blast for this year, providing even more track for arguably F1’s most powerful engine to express itself, it was enough to tip this track decidedly in favor of Ferrari.
Who would have thought that, in a Singapore GP in which Ferrari was the fastest, Sainz would be on pole and not Leclerc?
This tells us as much about Carlos – and the confidence with which he currently operates – as it does about Charles.
The last non-Red Bull driver to win a Grand Prix? George Russell.
Starting from second place and with Mercedes invariably stronger in racing conditions, is there a chance it can repeat its heroics at Brazil 2022 on Sunday?
After some tough races, the challenges of the Singapore circuit saw Russell back to his committed and courageous best: his final lap in Q3 put Lewis Hamilton to shame, the slowest of the lead group by a rather alarming margin.
Ferrari have the pole and straight-line speed to make Sainz and Leclerc fearsome in a racing situation, but Russell will take his chances from second on the grid.
Expect him to seize every opportunity that comes his way in that first go-round – and consequences be damned.
Haas admitted after Alex Albon’s points finish at Monza that any hope of catching Williams for seventh in the Constructors’ standings was gone.
There remain reservations about the VF-23’s race pace, but don’t be so sure with Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg sixth and ninth on the grid respectively and the team preparing to welcome a Red Bull-inspired B-spec car to Austin next month .
While the race itself ultimately amounts to nothing, it served as a reminder – amid accusations that Haas’ driver lineup is uninteresting, unimaginative and even boring – of what Magnussen and Hulkenberg are capable of with the right car.
Both are racing drivers in the purest sense.
Sport has a habit of delivering great stories and the one featuring Liam Lawson – the Red Bull junior who eliminated Red Bull’s two-time reigning world champion from qualifying in his third appearance – was simply irresistible.
With Lawson making clear his determination to secure a full-time AlphaTauri drive for 2024, the circumstances of his first Q3 appearance had the feel of a signature moment.
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He has been so impressive in his first few weeks as an F1 driver that he should now be considered AlphaTauri’s first choice for 2024.
Choose between Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo for the other seat…
Max Verstappen/Red Bull
With Verstappen and Red Bull now staring at the team’s first defeat in a full 10 months, how do you explain their dismal performance this weekend?
It would be too simplistic to connect the dots and suggest that the new technical directive in force here was enough to bring Red Bull to its knees, just as it would be ridiculous to point to the new layout of the Singapore track as the root of the problem. all their evils.
Instead, perhaps it all boils down to the most important phrase in modern F1: aerodynamic efficiency.
When teams design their cars for a new season, they approach the project with the simple goal of building the fastest car possible for the widest choice of tracks across the season. And it makes sense that there are many more circuits like Spa and Silverstone on the F1 calendar than Marina Bay and Monaco.
As such, these races become to some extent bearable, accepting that their normal advantage over the opposition is significantly reduced or even completely erased.
Look back, for example, at how deep Verstappen had to dig to resist Fernando Alonso’s advances in Monaco qualifying in May.
And can it simply be a coincidence that Red Bull’s perfect season has suddenly become much less perfect in Singapore, scene of Mercedes’ rocky horror show in 2015?
What complicates matters this time, of course, is that, by their own admission, the prospect of an “invincible season” was just starting to dawn on Red Bull.
Helmut Marko was quoted as saying before Singapore that if the team can find a way to get through this weekend unscathed, winning every single race in 2023 would become a very real possibility.
However, the arrival of this historic achievement comes with some pressure. And when a team is so used to operating at a level of such excellence, it can create an amplified sense of uncertainty when something goes wrong: one mistake begets another, and then another until, suddenly, Verstappen has three obstacles separated. investigations loom over him.
Just like Mercedes here in 2015, the team that could do nothing wrong suddenly can no longer do well for having done badly.
Fascinating, both from an engineering and psychological point of view.
Much of the attention of Red Bull’s failures will inevitably fall on Verstappen, but here too Sergio Perez does not emerge unscathed.
If Verstappen had at least shown flashes in the moments before his exit from Q2, his teammate – winner here in difficult conditions last year, remember – was a passenger all weekend, ranking no higher than seventh place in the three free practice sessions.
It has now failed to reach Q3 in seven of 15 qualifying sessions in 2023.
If a place on the midfield grid has become foreign territory for Max lately, Checo must feel almost at home in P13.
Car racing can’t just be a rich kid’s hobby. It is a fundamentally dangerous sport with the ability to bite. Difficult.
As attention grows on his place at Aston Martin, how will this major success – by far the biggest of his F1 career to date – affect Lance Stroll’s willingness to continue?
A punishing season took a more serious turn when he ran wide on the final corner, hit the curb on the outside and overcorrected, clipping it into the barrier.
With his true commitment to F1 often called into question, if he truly had doubts about continuing to dice with danger it might just crystallize those nagging thoughts.
Read next: Christian Horner offers explanation for Red Bull’s ‘confused’ performance
The article 2023 Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying Winners and Losers appeared first on Planetf1.com.