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SINGAPORE GP: A MASTERPIECE SIGNED BY CARLOS SAINZ



When driver's skills surpasses pre-planned strategy and technology, you witness a truly remarkable Singapore Grand Prix, where Carlos Sainz emerged as an undisputed dominator from start to finish.


Every aspect of the race was impeccably orchestrated, perfectly in tune with the Ferrari team. Right from the early stages, Sainz displayed surprising mastery in managing the medium tires he started the race with, skillfully fending off Charles Leclerc, who had started from the third position and had overtaken George Russell at the first turn. Unlike what happened in Monza, this time the Ferrari pit wall decided to use Leclerc to support Sainz, instructing him to maintain a gap of at least 3 seconds from the Spaniard and to distance himself from Russell, who was in third place, slowing him down.


Everything seemed to be proceeding flawlessly until, on the 19th lap, the safety car came into play due to Logan Sargeant's accident, which left debris from the front wing scattered all over the track. At that moment, all the teams rushed to the pits (except for the two Red Bulls and Valtteri Bottas's Alfa Romeo, who had started on hard tires) to switch to the white Pirelli tires and attempt to complete the GP without further pit stops. This is where the most challenging part of the race unfolded: completing approximately forty laps on the same tires.


Sainz remained in the lead, followed by Max Verstappen, who chose not to pit and climbed into second place, while Russell, Sergio Perez, Lando Norris, Leclerc (who lost time in the pit lane due to traffic), Lewis Hamilton, and the other drivers positioned themselves behind. Verstappen and Perez quickly lost ground due to the wear of their hard tires, initiating a battle between Sainz and Russell.


Both drivers began to slow their pace to preserve their Pirellis for the final showdown. Then, on the 42nd lap, Esteban Ocon, who had performed exceptionally well until then and was seventh with the Alpine-Renault, encountered an issue with the sixth gear and stopped at the first chicane. A safety car was not necessary, but the virtual safety car was deployed.


With 20 laps to go, the Mercedes team made a bold move by calling Russell and Hamilton to the pits to switch to medium tires. Aston Martin also did the same with Fernando Alonso, but his pit stop was slow, and the strategy fell apart, followed by an on-track mistake by the Spanish driver. The two Mercedes, upon returning to the track, immediately started setting faster lap times than Sainz, who was leading ahead of Norris, Leclerc, and the two Mercedes. By the 49th lap, Sainz had an 11.5-second advantage over Russell, which had dwindled to 2.6 seconds by the 57th lap.


At this point, Sainz made a brilliant move, not suggested by his team. Carlos allowed Norris to get closer to him, enabling Norris to use the DRS to defend himself against Russell and Hamilton. In just a few moments, the top four drivers in the race were in close proximity, a rare sight in a year dominated by Red Bull. Meanwhile, Verstappen and Perez were struggling further back.


Norris quickly understood Sainz's tactic and seized the opportunity lap by lap. Sainz, in turn, had to fend off Norris, who was more interested in blocking Russell to preserve his second position. Tension escalated with each passing lap, culminating on the final lap when Russell made a mistake, brushing the outside wall, damaging the suspension, and heading straight into the barriers. A disappointment for Russell, who had driven a flawless race. Norris could finally breathe, and Hamilton, surprised by his teammate's error, settled for third place for Mercedes. This way, Sainz gifted himself, Ferrari, and Frederic Vasseur their first win of the season.


Sainz's brilliant move was the highlight of a race where he displayed extraordinary composure, carefully evaluating every moment from the start. The result rewarded his excellent work and that of the entire Ferrari team. This marks his second career victory, following his win at Silverstone in 2022. Leclerc finished fourth, inevitably distant from the top three due to tire wear but showing teamwork.


An extraordinary weekend also for Norris, who was fourth in qualifying and second at the finish, securing his third podium of the year. Oscar Piastri of McLaren also scored points, finishing seventh after a challenging weekend on an unfamiliar track. Hamilton, with his third-place finish, surpassed Alonso in the overall standings, despite an imperfect race, which included an error in attempting to overtake Perez, causing him to lose positions to the aggressively charging Ocon, followed by a mistake in the final laps after a slow pit stop.


Verstappen drove a smart race, securing fifth place. This marked his worst result of the season, as in the previous 14 races, he had either won or finished second. Perez, on the other hand, finished eighth after pushing Yuki Tsunoda off the track in the first lap, without receiving a penalty. Ocon's retirement eased the disappointment at Alpine, with Pierre Gasly securing a good sixth place.


Notable was also Liam Lawson's extraordinary performance, qualifying tenth and finishing ninth in the race. The New Zealander is proving his worth for a spot in Alpha Tauri for 2024, and who knows if the Red Bull group will decide to take advantage of this opportunity when Daniel Ricciardo recovers from his hand injury. The final point went to Haas, with Kevin Magnussen, who demonstrated great determination despite some difficulties in previous races. Williams was less of a standout than usual, with Alexander Albon finishing 11th.




© Cavalieri Garage & Co.


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