Singapore saw an unexpected, albeit thrilling, mix of drama and emotions as Red Bull‘s record-breaking string of victories came to a dramatic halt. Spanish racing driver Carlos Sainz‘s victory at the Singapore Grand Prix was a sight to behold. This year, the idea of anyone other than a Red Bull driver clinching the title had grown increasingly far-fetched.
Reflect back to the Brazilian Grand Prix when George Russell claimed his win. That was the last time Red Bull tasted defeat. The race before that, Charles Leclerc emerged victorious in Austria, four months prior. Red Bull‘s surprising underperformance in Singapore offered rival teams a rare opportunity to shine, with four drivers from three different teams queuing up to battle for the victory in the final laps.
In the afterglow of his victory, Sainz stated, “We have to be extremely proud of the weekend that we’ve put together. We’ve had one opportunity this year to win the race, which was here in Singapore, and we nailed it. We didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and, there were moments when we were under pressure, but we kept calm and stuck to our strategy.”
In an anticlimactic twist of events, George Russell‘s dream for victory plummeted as he crashed into the barriers at Turn 10 on the final lap. This came after he and teammate Lewis Hamilton were leading with their fresh Pirellis hauling in Sainz and Lando Norris in the final stages. Despite Russell’s struggles to overtake Norris, Sainz managed to slow his pace and maintain a lead.
Sainz spoke on the strategic decision saying, “I had to give Lando a bit of a cheeky DRS boost, and that helped us to keep them behind and win the race. You know that you cannot have a lock-up. You cannot have a single mistake or a snap because it means that then Lando’s going to have a chance to overtake you if he’s on DRS.”
Norris lost his DRS advantage on lap 59, giving Russell a shot at a pass. However, Sainz slowed his pace to let Norris catch him, securing his place in the lead. “I think that move actually saved my race,” Sainz added, commenting on the tactical manoeuvre.
Despite his unfortunate crash, Russell acknowledged, “It’s incredible how quickly the mind thinks. The victory was gone by that last lap anyway. I’m not going to beat myself up if it was for the last lap, for victory. It’s a very very simple error, it’s a street circuit, these things happen.”
Sainz’s triumph in Singapore was a validation of his talent, especially given his consistent performance since the summer break. His success contrasts Leclerc’s struggles over the past three races. Commenting on his recent form, Sainz stated, “I think in terms of car and driving understanding [I have improved]. I just sat down with my engineers in the summer break and we said okay, what can we do to start putting the whole weekend together?”
In a stunning turn of events, Red Bull‘s lack of podium presence was the most startling surprise. The team had concerns about their performance going into the Singapore weekend. However, even its own simulations had not foreseen such a massive drop in performance. This is the first time since 2018 that neither Red Bull driver made it to the top ten in qualifying.
Regardless of the setback, it is highly likely that Red Bull will dominate again this weekend in Suzuka. Commenting on Red Bull‘s defeat in Singapore, Sainz said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still winning the last few races of the season. I just think it’s great for F1 if Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Aston [Martin] would be that two, three-tenths quicker every race.