In a close-fought qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix, beating Mercedes’ George Russell and the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc as championship leader Max Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez were dumped out in Q2.
In the final runs of Q3, Sainz and Leclerc looked to have handed Ferrari a front-row lockout, with Sainz, on a 1:30.984, 0.079s ahead of his team-mate but Russell, one of the last on track at the end of a dramatic session put in a lap of 1:31.056 to edge ahead of Leclerc by just seven thousandths of a second and take a first front-row place since the Australian Grand Prix.
McLaren’s Lando Norris took fourth place in the session, just under three tenths off the pace, with Lewis Hamilton fifth in the second Mercedes. Kevin Magnussen handed Haas a positive result with sixth place while Fernando Alonso out Aston Martin seventh, after the Silverstone-based team had earlier seen Lance Stroll crash heavily at the end of Q1. Esteban Ocon was eight for Alpine ahead of Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg and the final top-10 spot was taken by AlphaTauri’s impressive Liam Lawson.
There was no place in the top-10 shootout for either Red Bull, however. Max Verstappen endured a torrid session, struggling for grip throughout and branding his RB19 “shocking’ after Lawson beat him to P10 by the tiny margin of 0.007s. The Dutchman’s misery was compounded by being placed under investigation for two separate incidents, first for apparently impeding in the pit lane during Q1 and then for a possible block of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda during the middle segment.
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez was also ruled out at the end of Q2 with the Mexican driver spinning late in the session and qualifying in P13 behind Alpine’s Pierre Gasly. Alex Albon qualified 14th for Williams, while Tsunoda ended the night in 15the place.
Earlier at the end of Q1 Stroll brought out the red flags when he crashed heavily at the final corner while attempting to drag himself out of the drop zone as the track rapidly improved at the end of the session.
Tsunoda had hauled himself to an unlikely P1 with Pérez climbing to P2 ahead of Haas’ Nico Hülkenberg and it looked like progress to the next segment would in part be defined by when drivers crossed the line. That led to queuing at the end of prep laps and Race Officials indicated that the potentially dangerous traffic jam would also be looked at after the session.
Stroll’s crash meant that Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was knocked out in P16 ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, Williams’ Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu in P19 in the second Alfa. The unfortunate but uninjured Stroll qualified in 20th place.
2023 FIA Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:30.984 – –
2 George Russell Mercedes 1:31.056 0.072
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.063 0.079
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:31.270 0.286
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.485 0.501
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31.575 0.591
7 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:31.615 0.631
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:31.673 0.689
9 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:31.808 0.824
10 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:32.268 1.284
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:32.173 1.189
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:32.274 1.290
13 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:32.310 1.326
14 Alexander Albon Williams 1:33.719 2.735
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri – – –
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:32.809 1.825
17 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:32.902 1.918
18 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:33.252 2.268
19 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:33.258 2.274
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:33.397 2.413