SINGAPORE — Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz won the Singapore 2023 Grand Prix on Sunday (Sept 17), breaking Max Verstappen of Red Bull’s run of 10 consecutive victories this season.
“An incredible feeling, an incredible weekend, I want to thank everyone at Ferrari for managing to win after a tricky beginning,” said the Spaniard, who started from pole position.
“We nailed the weekend, we nailed the race. We did everything we had to do and we did it perfect.”
Sainz claimed his first victory of the 2023 season, with McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton coming in second and third respectively.
For the first time since last November’s Brazilian Grand Prix, none of the Red Bull drivers were on the podium.
Verstappen, who had broken a Formula 1 record by winning his 10th consecutive race at the Italian Grand Prix on Sept 3, came in fifth after starting in 11th place. His teammate, Sergio Perez, finished eighth.
Red Bull had been dominant this season, winning all 14 previous races.
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell crashed into the barrier in his last lap when he was in third position, eliminating his shot at the podium.
It was also a disappointing race for Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas who did not finish. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll did not compete after a huge crash during qualifying on Saturday.
The Singapore Grand Prix, held from Friday to Sunday, saw a turnout of 264,108 people, exceeding the previously announced anticipated attendance of 250,000.
In a press release on Sunday, the Singapore Grand Prix organisers said that The Bay Grandstand was closed as part of the planned redevelopment of The Float at Marina Bay, which led to this year’s reduced attendance from 2022’s record capacity.
“However, six new grandstands as well as additional walkabout tickets were introduced to mitigate the loss of capacity, and these were all fully taken up due to very strong demand,” it said.
It also said that early bird tickets for next year’s race have been sold out after having gone on sale for only 72 hours.
There were many disappointed Verstappen fans, who held hope that he might make a late charge on Sunday. Nonetheless, they were not too worried as Verstappen still leads the drivers’ standings by a comfortable 151 points with seven races to go.
Mr Gerald Chee, 24, who was watching the race at a bar in the Esplanade mall, told TODAY: “Maybe it’s a good thing so he won’t get too cocky. Can’t win too much, I guess.”
“I hope they change the tires they used, maybe he’ll perform better next year in Singapore,” added the undergraduate business student from the National University of Singapore.
Fans of Mercedes also ended the night with mixed feelings.
For Lewis Hamilton fan Iman Khaliesah who was watching the race from her home, the Singapore Grand Prix was one of the best races so far for this season as none of the Red Bull drivers were leading.
“George did an amazing job but unfortunately crashed. I was actually hoping for both Mercedes drivers to be on the podium today because they both did an amazing job,” said the 22-year-old polytechnic student.
Agreeing, Mr Arthur Johnson, a student at Chatsworth International in Singapore, called Russell’s crash “shocking”.
“At least Lewis made it onto the podium but Russell’s was just so close, I have such mixed feelings,” said the 17-year-old.
His two friends, both Ferrari fans, were elated with the result.
“It’s not always fun when Max dominates. This is a real F1, with such a dramatic last lap,” said Ms Ella Haines, 17, also a student at Chatsworth International.
Indeed, for some Ferrari fans such as Malaysian couple Mr Daniel Shahrul and Ms Ika Basri, Russell’s crash effectively secured Sainz’s victory.
“When the crash happened, he (Mr Shahrul) cheered,” admitted Ms Ika.
The couple, who were decked in Ferrari tees, had been watching from the sidelines of the race track, but headed to the Padang to join other attendees to sit on the grass — just in time to watch the action-packed last lap.
As Sainz drove past the finish line, the duo cheered and jumped alongside other Ferrari fans. Their voices raspy as they spoke to TODAY, they said this would not be their last F1.
“The atmosphere, the cheers and the sound of the cars zooming by are fantastic,” said Mr Shahrul. “And even more so because Carlos is standing on the podium!”
Fans of McLaren were also over the moon at Norris’ second place finish. Ms Rebeca Wee, 22, said that the last lap was “insane”.
“There was so much going on. It was extremely fun to watch this year,” said Ms Wee who was watching the race with her family at the Padang.
Those who had gone to the event for the music and festivities were not left disappointed as well.
Over the last two days, the concerts headlined by Post Malone and Kings of Leon, as well as a line-up of artistes presented by 88rising including Jackson Wang, Niki, and Rich Brian, attracted tens of thousands of fans, said the Singapore Grand Prix organisers.
Headlining Sunday’s concert was British pop star Robbie Williams, to the delight of many in the crowd.
“I watched him the last time he performed in Singapore at the 2014 F1 race. He had danced and sung his heart out in the rain,” said Ms Lim Lim, a 52-year-old homemaker.
“I couldn’t get that memory out of my head, he was such a great performer. I had to see him live again, so I’m only here for him.”
Long-time fans Ms Kirstin Rodrigues, 35, the manager at Kaz Bar, and her colleague, Mr Jonas Mejarito, 31, were also there to watch the singer in 2014, and could not resist watching his return.
“The last time out, he kept performing despite the rain pouring on him. He was so charming, just doing his thing although he was drenched. We were drawn in,” said Ms Rodrigues.