Ferrari Wins in Singapore!

He earned pole position on Saturday.  Today he executed a brilliant drive to victory.  First, Sainz had the pace to stay out in front.  Second, Ferrari took advantage of the safety car deployed.  Sainz and Charles Leclerc changed to the hard tire to carry them thru the end of the race.  Unfortunately, second place Leclerc was held up by traffic in pit lane and came out in sixth position.  Leclerc finished the race in fourth.

Once the race was underway again, Sainz expertly managed his tires.  They had to last 41 laps.  Sainz’s drive is particularly brilliant given that Ferrari has consistently had an issue burning up their tires too quickly this year.  Ferrari has always had the pace, but their tire management has been awful.  Something about the car set up this week allowed Sainz to execute a proper tire strategy, leading them to victory.

The race became more interesting for Sainz at lap 41.    Esteban Ocon’s Alpine stopped on track due to a gearbox failure.  Sainz, George Russell, Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were the top five at lap 41. To pit or not to pit, that was the question.  Mercedes opted to not only pit but double stack their drivers.  Sainz, Norris and Leclerc started to build a bit of a lead as both Mercedes executed brilliant pit stop.  Once green flag racing resumed, Russell and Hamilton put their new medium tires to work.

Sainz knew that the Mercedes would catch the top three in a hurry.  He continued to manage his pace.  By lap 53, Russell was in DRS range of Leclerc, and passed Leclerc on turn 14 of the same lap.  At beginning of lap 54, Hamilton blew past Leclerc as well.  Two laps later, Russell and Hamilton could see Norris’s tail wing.  By lap 58, it was a four-car convoy driving around the 3 miles that made up Singapore’s road track.

Carlos was brilliant.  First, he and Norris were old teammates from their McLaren days together.  They knew each other well and are still friends off the track.  Second, and more importantly, Sainz knew that if he allowed Norris DRS, Russell would not be able to pass Norris.  So, as the laps wound down, Sainz would back off just enough to allow Norris DRS thus holding off both Mercedes.

At lap 59, Sainz reported that his front tires were finished, yet he raced on.  The last lap of the race was dramatic finish.  Russell pressuring Norris once again, and he clipped the wall sending him careening into the runoff area.  Russell had used up all his tires to try and get the lead.

The commentators clearly wanted three British on the podium.  They were telling each other that Carlos Sainz needs to just drive as fast as he can for as long as he can.  They knew better.  They hoped Sainz would drive as fast as he could, because if he did, Mercedes would have likely caught him.  Instead, Sainz executed a brilliant strategy.  At lap 58, Sainz’s engineer came on the radio and remarked that Norris was in DRS range.  Sainz retorted, “Yeah, It’s on purpose.”  Sainz knew exactly what he was doing and that is how he drove to victory today.

Race winner Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain, second left, stands with second placed McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain, left, and third placed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, right, on the podium with a Ferrari teammate following the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit, Singapore,Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

This was not Red Bull’s weekend.  Their string of victories has snapped.  Yet, Verstappen and Red Bull are firmly ahead of the pack in Championship points, and it is unlikely that anyone will catch them.  They don’t have anything to worry about.  Verstappen has never performed well at Singapore.  They will be fine.

It was nice to see Lewis Hamilton on the podium again.  Despite his age, he is still one of the best drivers on the grid.  Both McLarens finished in the points, with Norris finding himself on the podium once again.  Finally great credit must be given to rookie drive Liam Lawson who finished ninth overall in his Alpha Tauri.

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