SINGAPORE (AP) – The dominant Red Bulls were out of the picture and Formula One (F1) had its most thrilling fight for a win this season.
Runaway standings leader Max Verstappen’s winning run ended at 10 races and Red Bull’s at 15 – both F1 records – as Carlos Sainz Jr won the Singapore Grand Prix for Ferrari on Sunday.
Red Bull dreamed of winning every race this year but had Verstappen fifth and Perez eighth after struggling all weekend in Singapore.
Sainz started on pole position and held on with badly worn tyres over several tense final laps for his second career win in F1 ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. It was a four-car fight for the win before George Russell crashed the other Mercedes on the final lap from third position to promote Hamilton to the podium.
“I felt under control. I felt like I could manage well and we brought it home. That was the best feeling,” Sainz said after celebrating with his team as fireworks lit up the Singapore circuit.
Sainz admitted after the race he had slowed down to ensure Norris stay within the one-second window that allowed the McLaren driver access to the DRS straight-line speed boost – a valuable aid in holding off the two Mercedes.
“Carlos was very generous trying to help me get DRS. It helped my race and also helped his,” said Norris, who was placed second in three of the last six races but has yet to win in F1.
“We held (Mercedes) off, we did everything we needed to do and more.” Norris said he clipped the wall in the same spot where Russell later went off.
Mercedes had Russell on course for second before taking a risk with a second stop for both cars in the hope of taking the win on fresher, faster tyres.
Russell dropped back to fourth, ahead of Hamilton, and they both passed Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but couldn’t get past Norris to reclaim second.
“We rolled the dice this weekend,” Hamilton said after a Mercedes strategy call saw both cars stop for fresh tyres late on, meaning Russell dropped back from second in pursuit of the win.
Leclerc was fourth after failing to hold off the Mercedes cars on older tyres, ahead of Verstappen in fifth. The champion had an eventful race after starting 11th and was briefly second on track behind Sainz, though only because almost all other cars stopped for fresh tyres. After Verstappen’s own pit stop, he fought his way back through the field from 15th.
Despite his worst result since November 2022, Verstappen increased his championship lead to 151 points over Perez with seven races to go.