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Singapore Grand Prix 2023

Winners and Losers from the 2023 F1 Singapore Grand Prix

A canny drive from the smooth operator, a point proven and the case for a 2024 seat. It's the Winners and Losers from the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Sainz Singapore
To news overview © XPBimages

It was a very peculiar set of circumstances that combined to make the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix what it was.

Firstly, it was Mercedes' saving of two brand-new set of Medium compound tyres compared to one for the majority of the field that proved crucial.

If they could be deployed at just the right time in the race, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton close enough to the leaders, then the W14 would prove mighty on the fresher rubber.

It also required fresh, clean, open track to drop the W14 back into. There's no point in doing it and getting held up behind midfield runners battling for precious World Championship points.

But the Safety Car would need to come early enough after the switch from Mediums to Hards but not late enough to negate any hope of scything back through the field.

Another ingredient would be those cars ahead not having the opportunity to respond by covering the pit-stops. Maybe a well-timed Virtual Safety Car would provide such an opening.

And that's how it turned out, but not at first. All five of the leaders just missed the pit-entry when the VSC was deployed, but Mercedes gambled next time by, pitting both drivers as Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc were snookered into trying to stay out.

It set up a grandstand finish, with Sainz expertly deploying DRS tactics to aid Norris while Russell's deserved podium hopes ended when clipped the Turn 10 wall.

They all feature in the Winners and Losers from the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix - and we start with an impressive drive.

Winner - Carlos Sainz

This was straight out of the Fernando Alonso 'School of Canny'.

Set aside the fact that Sainz was the dominant driver throughout the Marina Bay weekend and fully deserved his second Grand Prix win, his late-race tactics were an act of stunning race-craft of the highest order.

With all that goes on physically and mentally in Singapore, to have the presence of mind to give the pursuing Norris DRS "on purpose" was outstanding.

With pace in hand, Sainz decided to give Norris the boost to ensure he could not be overtaken by the charging Mercedes duo, with the Ferrari knowing that if Norris was made mincemeat out of, he would be following rather quickly.

So, he purposefully dropped back to give Norris the overtaking aid to stymie Russell and Hamilton's challenge.

Sainz is a driver full of confidence and a pole, win and leading every lap in Singapore is no mean feat. He was only denied the Grand Chelem by not getting fastest lap, which went to Hamilton.

What did Sainz say?

“It was just quite tight at the end, but we gave Lando a bit of DRS to help him and then, in the end, we made it to P1."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - George Russell

This was a painful, silly error for Russell - but one that will make him stronger.

Clouting the Turn 10 entry wall on the final lap was the type of miniscule misjudgement on which podiums are won or lost.

He will learn from it, but it is important he is not too harsh on himself. Hamilton has made stupid errors in the past, Verstappen has, Leclerc has, Alonso has, Norris has and even the Schumachers and Sennas have.

It happens, but what is important for the Briton is to carry the momentum he built over the weekend into the remainder of the season.

He was the better of the Mercedes drivers and his move for third on Leclerc was expertly executed.

It stings, it has to, in what has been a poor season overall, but days like this will teach the emotional and brutally honest Russell. Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest to stomach.

What did Russell say?

"In the moment, you just want to curl up in a ball and be with nobody. It is the most horrendous feeling in the world. To clip the wall on the last lap is just a pathetic excuse, so it feels strange."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Lando Norris

When you basically redesign the whole car and bring nine different upgrades, you expect them to work - and the driver to get the most out of it.

That is exactly what Norris did in Singapore.

Perhaps if we're being picky, third on the grid was possible with a perfect lap, but this was an assured drive from a driver rightly among the top Hamilton, Verstappen elite on the grid.

The upgrades seemed to begin to rectify the slow-speed weaknesses McLaren has had for a number of years, and with the package not yet fully optimsed, Norris delivered a third P2 of the season.

It is surely only a matter of time before he graduates one step to his left on the podium.

What did Norris say?

"I hit the wall on the same lap in the same place [as Russell] so I think he copied me and just didn't even work."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Red Bull

This race weekend goes to show that Red Bull's domination in 2023 is not that easy.

Elite sport at this level cannot be easy. It never is. It takes a team firing at 100% to pound the opposition how Red Bull has.

And usually, when it goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

The RB19 will not sweep the season and the last great F1 challenge remains intact.

The team is sure that it is just a track-specific issue with the car just not biting into the circuit - and the results were plain to see.

Christian Horner did feel that if the first Safety Car wasn't deployed, Verstappen could have been a contender given his pace on Mediums in the second stint - but he left too much on the table to catch a slowing Leclerc - falling short of fourth by two-tenths.

What did Verstappen say?

"I knew that this would come. So for me it’s absolutely fine. Everything needs to be perfect. Everyone is always saying: 'Look how dominant they are' or 'Look how easy it is.'"

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Winner - Liam Lawson

Liam Lawson now has three Grands Prix under his belt, all coming in vastly different conditions, from the chaos of Zandvoort, the high-speed of Monza to the challenge of Marina Bay.

He's finished 13th, 11th and ninth - and in doing so, scored the best result of any AlphaTauri driver, all four of them, in the 2023 season.

He's done exactly what any replacement driver should and grabbed his chance and ran with it.

He battled wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen before sensibly letting the faster car through without costing himself too much time - and identified an area for improvement despite his success.

The question now is surely, what seat he will be in for the 2024 season, not if he'll get one.

What did Lawson say?

"For me it's the start I need to get on top of because it's now two weekends in a row that I've botched the start and lost a couple of positions."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Loser - Esteban Ocon

In terms of 27th birthday presents, Esteban Ocon will firmly be looking for a refund.

He mugged Alonso when the Aston Martin couldn't pass Sergio Perez and drove away and was running sixth - which at worst could have been seventh with the recovering Verstappen.

Instead, the gearbox packed up thanks to an hydraulic issue and his dreadful run of back luck continued.

He had a similar failure at Silverstone, was an innocent bystander in being taken out in Hungary at Turn 1 and suffered a steering issue at Monza.

You take away the Monaco podium and 15 points, Ocon only has 21, with a best finish of seventh in the Austria Sprint. He hasn't finished higher than eighth in a Grand Prix all season.

It's firmly the latest block in a character-building year, but at least team-mate Pierre Gasly saved Alpine's face with sixth.

What did Ocon say?

"The team was making all the right calls and we were able to have some fun on track with some overtakes throughout the race."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

F1 2023 Singapore Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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