Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix - Saturday Qualifying

BY Sean Loo

It was a shocking day for Red Bull at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and a brilliant outing for Ferrari.

The Marina Bay Street Circuit just dished out one of the most heart-pounding qualifying sessions in its history of Formula 1 action. Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard with the need for speed, grabbed his first-ever pole position in style at the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix.

Sainz clocked a jaw-dropping lap time of 1:30.984. Sounds fast, right? Well, it was, but here's the kicker – he beat George Russell's Mercedes by a mere 0.072 seconds.

Charles Leclerc trailed just seven-thousandths of a second behind Russell, and brought home a Ferrari 1-3. It's a nail-biting showdown right to the end of qualifying.

Sainz was pretty casual too in his cooldown speech, "We are definitely making a bit of progress." Carlos, you're making it sound like a stroll in the park. He's got his eyes set on tomorrow, and you can bet he's going to give it everything.

George Russell acknowledged that it was a challenging session. But in typical fashion, he says, "you have to keep your composure and keep cool."

McLaren driver Lando Norris snagged the fourth spot. And Lewis Hamilton maintained his record of never qualifying outside the top five in Singapore. The track is sizzling, and the competition is fierce.

Now, let's talk about Kevin Magnussen, the man who seems to have a secret affair with Singapore's track. He powered his Haas to the third row of the grid, with teammate Nico Hülkenberg not far behind in ninth place. Sandwiched between them are the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon's Alpine.

A special shoutout has to go to Liam Lawson, who took over driving duty from Daniel Ricciardo due to his injury. He nailed the 10th spot, and even knocked reigning world champion Max Verstappen out of Q3.

Ah, the Red Bulls; usually untouchable, but this qualifying session was a day to forget. Max Verstappen, the championship leader, and Sergio Pérez, last year's winner in Singapore, got knocked out in the Q2 segment. Verstappen described his final lap as "an absolutely shocking experience."

But Verstappen's day wasn't just about the car; it involved a couple of meetings with the race stewards too. First, for holding up other drivers in the pit lane during Q1, and later for impeding Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri at Turn 4 in Q2. Verstappen shrugged it off, saying, "It was just so messy, it doesn't matter if you start 11th or 15th."

And let's not forget the high-speed drama – Lance Stroll's Aston Martin kissed the barriers at the final corner, bringing out the red flag. Thankfully, he emerged from the stricken car in good health.

Now, to wrap it up, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu had little time to celebrate their new contracts as they got eliminated in Q1, along with Stroll, Logan Sargeant in his Williams, and the unlucky Oscar Piastri, whose McLaren couldn't complete its flying lap when the red flag was waved.

In other Marina Bay circuit news, Porsche Carrera Cup leader Florian Latorre of France reasserted himself with a 1.313-second win over strong rival Kailuo Luo of China in the first of two 12-lap races of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.

In The Super Series (TSS) league, Thai polesitter Tanart Sathienthirakul got off to a bad start, but managed to claw back a victory in the first of two 25-minute invitational races, 10.520 seconds clear of China’s Lin Hao.

Will Sainz bring it home tomorrow, or will someone else snatch the chequered flag? Guess we would have to stay tuned to tomorrow to find out.

Photo Credits: Singapore Grand Prix