F1 Takeaways: How Sainz snapped Verstappen’s record streak

Race winner Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain, second left, stands with second placed McLaren driver Lando Norris of Britain, left, and third placed Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, right, on the podium with a Ferrari teammate following the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit, Singapore,Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. (Vincent Thian/AP)

For the first time this season, someone other than a Red Bull driver stood at the top of the podium.

Not only did Max Verstappen’s and Red Bull’s record winning streaks come to an end, but the team was shut out from the podium altogether.

In a surprise turn of events and a thrilling finish, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took the checkered flag Sunday at the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

Here’s how it all went down in our takeaways.


Simply put, Red Bull never quite found their footing in Singapore. Right from practice on Friday there were concerns about rear grip from both Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez as they were about seven-tenths of a second slower than eventual pole-sitter and winner Sainz.

Those struggles continued into qualifying. Verstappen was bumped (figurately not literally) out of the top 10 by rookie Liam Lawson, filling in for Daniel Ricciardo on sibling team AlphaTauri, during the second session and missed the cut for the final round. That meant Verstappen was forced to start 11th on the grid and one row ahead of Perez, who didn’t fare much better as he spun out and qualified in unlucky 13th.

Verstappen was also summoned to the stewards for three separate incidents during qualifying, however, he escaped with a fine and avoided any penalties that would have shuffled him further back on the grid.

Still, Verstappen has overcome the odds before — as we saw winning at Miami in May after starting ninth — but the Singapore street circuit is a tricky, twisty track with fewer opportunities to maintain top speed and this was one deficit too deep.

Verstappen finished fifth (thanks to George Russell’s last-minute lapse) and continues to carry an insurmountable lead in the championship — 151 points over Perez with seven events to go — but for the first time this season, he’s appeared human and the title coronation may have to wait a little bit longer.

When your “worst” result all year is within the top five though, you’re doing something exceptional. Red Bull’s reign may have ended for at least one week but Verstappen’s 10 consecutive victories — and the team’s 15 straight wins — will surely stand for some time.


The smooth operator is back as Sainz scored his second career victory from pole position — his first came after starting P1 at the British GP last season.

Sainz had the pace practically all weekend but the question was how would his Ferrari hold up over the course of an entire Grand Prix when durability has been an issue. Just fine, as it turned out.

The gap between first and fourth, from winning to not even standing on the podium, was roughly 1.1 seconds at one point during the nail-biting conclusion. Sainz was able to hold on with worn tires thanks to some 4D chess and his good ol’ pal Norris.

Sainz ensured Norris was within the one-second threshold behind, thus able to use his drag reduction system (DRS). That gave Norris a boost of speed, however, he needed it to hold off the Mercedes cars of Russell and Hamilton and prevent them from making a charge to the front.

Clever guy.

Now, we’re not letting Ferrari off the hook entirely. It wasn’t a perfect Sunday for the Scuderia as Charles Leclerc lost precious time during their double-stack pit stop attempt under the safety car with the team citing traffic for the holdup.

Their overall strategy didn’t work in Leclerc’s favour as he was lucky to cross the finish line on his fading tires in fourth place when he did. Verstappen was behind by only .264 seconds and would have made a move had he not run out of real estate.

The end result is what matters though and Ferrari gained ground in the standings.


Just when it seemed like McLaren had been cooling off in the past few weeks, the team is heating up again. Norris grabbed his third second-place finish of the season while teammate Oscar Piastri, who started 17th on the grid, made up an impressive 10 spots to finish seventh and help McLaren score double points.

Sure Sainz played Norris like a fiddle during the home stretch, but he did a fine job defending Russell and Hamilton as with that kind of pressure and on that particular track, one slipup could lead to disaster. (Ominous music playing.)


While Hamilton scored his (checks notes) 196th career podium, it came at the expense of his teammate Russell, who caught a curb and ran right into the barrier on the last lap of the race.

That will be a tough one to swallow and fortunately for Russell, the Japanese Grand Prix is next week, allowing him to quickly park it and move on.


Hamilton also earned the fastest lap bonus point and surpassed Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso for third place in the standings. Meanwhile, Ferrari overtook Aston Martin for third place in the constructors’ championship. Yeah, not a good weekend for Aston Martin.

Lance Stroll was involved in a heavy crash during qualifying and although he walked away, he was held out of the race as a precaution. All eyes were on Alonso to deliver, but he finished out of the points for the first time this season due to a series of unforced errors.

First, Alonso crossed the pit entry line (twice) resulting in a clear-cut penalty. A lengthy pit stop after serving his penalty made matters worse and the yellow flag also made a brief appearance when Alonso nearly lost it while making a turn.

All of that adds up to a 15th-place finish — or last among all cars that actually crossed the finish line.


Making his third-ever start in F1, Lawson scored his first career points with his ninth-place finish. What’s also remarkable is it’s actually the best result for anyone driving for the basement-dwelling AlphaTauri this season. Teammate Yuki Tsunoda has finished 10th three times, Nyck de Vries failed to score any points during his 10 appearances before being sacked and Ricciardo was also held pointless in his two starts prior to his hand injury.

The 21-year-old Lawson has shown he’s worthy of a full-time spot on the grid and might have thrown a wrench into AlphaTauri’s future plans with both seats up for grabs next season. It seemed highly likely Tsunoda and Ricciardo would both be back (while also potentially pitching to replace Perez on the main Red Bull team for 2025). That could still be the case, but one must throw Lawson’s name in the hat for consideration.

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