Max Verstappen’s record-breaking winning streak came to an end under the Singapore lights as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag ahead of Lando Norris on Sunday.
Red Bull have been quite literally invincible this season. Coming into this weekend’s event, they had won every race, whilst champion-elect Verstappen has won the last 10. However, all runs come to an end, and it was Sainz the man to break it.
Verstappen could only qualify 11th on Saturday, and whilst the Dutchman managed an impressive recovery drive to 5th, he was never in contention in what was a thrilling race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Bad luck puts pay to Leclerc’s chances once again
The victory for a time looked like being played out between Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc. The Monégasque, who began the race in third, overtook George Russell at turn one and immediately began to put his Spanish teammate under pressure.
However, after Logan Sargeant lost his front wing on lap 20, the safety car was deployed. Ferrari double-stacked their drivers, and whilst Sainz maintained his position, Leclerc missed out, dropping behind Russell, Norris and Hamilton as the pit crew had to wait before releasing the Monégasque due to traffic in the pitlane. It was yet another cruel blow for the Ferrari driver, who had shown good pace.
Whilst Sainz continued to lead the way, he was far from unchallenged. The Mercedes were both quick and a late pit for mediums saw them close in on Sainz and Norris and compete for the win.
As the British duo of Russell and Lewis Hamilton closed in on Sainz and Norris, the Ferrari driver intelligently used Norris as a shield, allowing the Brit into DRS range to fend off the charging Silver Arrows. It was a tactic that worked, the front four were separated by less than four seconds with four laps to go, but the Mercedes charge was effectively halted.
“It’s amazing, but of course, I can’t hide my disappointment.”
In a desperate attempt to close in on the last lap, Russell dramatically crashed out, handing his teammate a place on the bottom of the podium. Norris took second behind Sainz, who earned Ferrari’s first win of what has thus far been a difficult season. Verstappen finished fifth, just behind Leclerc, who would have been caught if not for the chequered flag.
The Monégasque reacted to a bitter-sweet race in Singapore. “It means a lot [to end Red Bull’s winning run], especially with all the hard work that has been done on a high downforce track. It’s amazing, but of course, I can’t hide my disappointment because on my side, I wish I had done a better result today,” said Leclerc.
Leclerc and Ferrari should, however, be buoyed by their improvements in performance. The title is beyond them, but they’ll be looking to end the season strongly, beginning in Japan next weekend.
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Photo source: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office