SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 16: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 16, 2023 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Singapore Grand Prix: Qualifying results
Find out what happened in qualifying at the Marina Bay Circuit
Carlos Sainz took pole position for Ferrari in Singapore as both Red Bulls suffered a shock elimination.
If Ferrari has any chance at outpacing the weekend it would be here, at the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore. After topping all three practice sessions, the Italian team was looking good for a pole position.
All 2o drivers were anxious to get out at the start of the first qualifying session and set a flying lap. While McLaren’s Lando Norris was the first driver to set a time in the 1:32s range, it wasn’t long before Charles Leclerc was at the top of the timing sheets once again this weekend.
Then it was the Mercedes of George Russell, amongst the last to set his first lap time, who went 0.045s faster than Leclerc to claim P1.
Verstappen improved to go fastest overall, but only for less than a minute before Carlos Sainz stole the top spot back for Ferrari.
With just five minutes left in the session, everyone was back in the pits to regroup before their final flying laps. Sainz, Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell, and Norris made up the top five, while Lance Stroll, both Williams cars, and both Alfa Romeo cars were in the bottom five. By the time everyone was back on track and starting their laps there was less than two minutes to go.
The improvements were massive for many drivers, with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda going fastest overall on his final lap with a 1:31.991 ahead of both Haas drivers.
His teammate Liam Lawson, filling in for Daniel Ricciardo, went fourth overall. But in the midst of all the improvements and before everyone could finish their laps, Stroll hit the wall coming out of the final corner and caused a red flag, stopping several drivers from improving and setting a dramatic end to Q1.
After a lengthy delay to clear up the damage caused by Stroll’s accident, 15 cars were back on track for the second part of qualifying in Singapore.
Verstappen was the first to set a flying lap but it was Haas’ Kevin Magnussen who crossed the line second and went faster than the Dutchman. But then it was Fernando Alonso who claimed the top spot with a 1:31.835.
With seven minutes to go, only Russell managed to displace Alonso, taking P1 by less than a tenth of a second. All the drivers save the Mercedes pair came back into the pits. Crucially at this point, the Red Bull pair sat tenth and 11th and were both in danger of being eliminated.
The bottom five going into their final laps were Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Lawson, Alex Albon, and Tsunoda. As the seconds ticked down it became apparent that the Red Bulls were not going to improve, with Perez making a mistake and ultimately finishing the session in 13th. Hulkenberg got out of the bottom five, dropping Verstappen to 11th.
The championship leader improved but only to tenth, and was knocked out by Lawson. Also not progressing to Q3 were Pierre Gasly and Albon, as Sainz went fastest overall to top Q2.
Eliminated in Q2:
11. Max Verstappen 12. Pierre Gasly 13. Sergio Perez 14. Alex Albon 15. Yuki Tsunoda
With both Red Bulls out of the running, Ferrari was the favorite for pole position, but with Alonso and even the Haas cars also looking quick, the fight was still wide open.
Sure enough, halfway through the session, Ferrari was running 1-2 with Sainz two and a half tenths ahead of Leclerc. Norris split the Ferraris from the Mercedes, with Russell and Hamilton coming fourth and fifth respectively. Next was Alonso ahead of Magnussen and Hulkenberg, with Ocon and Lawson making up the final two.
After a lull where all ten drivers were in the pits, the final battle for pole position was on.
Sainz was one of the first to set his final lap, going fastest overall in Sector 1, with Leclerc behind him going fastest into Sector 2. Sainz stayed fastest overall as his teammate only managed second, with Norris coming in a close third. Then it was Russell who looked on the pace to steal pole from the Ferrari but missed out by 0.072s, settling for P2.
Top ten starting:
1. Carlos Sainz 2. George Russell 3. Charles Leclerc 4. Lando Norris 5. Lewis Hamilton 6. Kevin Magnussen 7. Fernando Alonso 8. Esteban Ocon 9. Nico Hulkenberg 10. Liam Lawson
Feature Image Credit: Clive Rose – Getty Images
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