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Formula 1

Red Bull meltdown as Sainz snatches Singapore GP pole

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz took pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix, as dominant Formula 1 championship leader Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team floundered badly.

Verstappen faces three separate investigations for alleged impeding – one for stopping for several seconds at the pitlane exit during Q1 and two others for seemingly getting in the way of other drivers on track: Logan Sargeant’s Williams in Q1 and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in Q2.

But any penalties for either or both of those incidents are unlikely to make his Saturday that much worse given he was eliminated in Q2 on merit – having struggled with a suddenly-unruly RB19 all weekend – by Tsunoda’s stand-in team-mate Liam Lawson.

To add to Red Bull’s misery Sergio Perez spun at Turn 3 on his final flying lap, guaranteeing his own Q2 exit.

The Red Bull-less pole shootout produced a close battle for first place, but it was Sainz, who prevailed as the chequered flag flew to secure his fifth pole position in F1.

Sainz held provisional pole after the initial Q3 runs, before posting a 1m30.984s lap to see off late challenges from Mercedes driver George Russell and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who both lapped within a tenth of the Spaniard.

“I f***ed it up,” Leclerc said on team radio after the session.

Lando Norris took fourth for McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton in fifth, four tenths down on his Mercedes team-mate Russell.

Kevin Magnussen was a standout sixth on an excellent day for Haas, which also had Nico Hulkenberg in Q3, finishing ninth.

Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine) were between the two Haas cars, while Lawson rounded out the top 10 in his third-ever F1 qualifying.

Ocon’s team-mate Pierre Gasly qualified 12th, slotting in between the two Red Bulls, while Williams driver Alex Albon and Tsunoda completed the Q2 order, Tsunoda failing to get a clean lap in late on having been impeded by Verstappen on his first attempt.

The first qualifying segment was ended early by a big crash for Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll, who got his car unsettled on the outside kerb coming through the first of the two left-handers that close out the lap and then went into the wall trying to turn in for the second.

Though Stroll, who headed to the medical centre afterwards, was ultimately cleared by the medical team of having suffered any major injuries, the wall hit had been violent enough to tear the left front wheel off his AMR23, which rolled across the track, being just narrowly avoided by Norris’s McLaren.

The chequered flag had already flown by then, but Stroll’s accident, causing a near-immediate red flag, did curtail a number of attempts – and notably wrote off the final push lap of Oscar Piastri, who arrived to the corner moments later and had to thread the needle between Stroll’s wrecked car and debris from the crash.

McLaren driver Piastri is due to start 17th on the grid, one place behind Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) and one place ahead of Logan Sargeant (Williams), the latter lamenting “four rejected downshifts” that cost him around half a second on his fastest lap – but admitting he wasn’t convinced that was what cost him a Q2 spot.

Sargeant is under investigation for having potentially impeded Stroll earlier in that session.

The newly-contracted-for-2024 Zhou Guanyu qualified 19th, making it a double Q1 exit for the upgraded Alfas as he struggled to get a “clean and consistent” lap amid what he described as sudden lock-ups, with only Stroll behind him.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m32.339s 1m31.439s 1m30.984s
2 George Russell Mercedes 1m32.331s 1m31.743s 1m31.056s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m32.406s 1m32.012s 1m31.063s
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m32.483s 1m31.951s 1m31.27s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.651s 1m32.019s 1m31.485s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m32.242s 1m31.892s 1m31.575s
7 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m32.584s 1m31.835s 1m31.615s
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m32.369s 1m32.089s 1m31.673s
9 Nico Hülkenberg Haas-Ferrari 1m32.1s 1m31.994s 1m31.808s
10 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m32.215s 1m32.166s 1m32.268s
11 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m32.398s 1m32.173s
12 Pierre Gasly Alpine-Renault 1m32.452s 1m32.274s
13 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m32.099s 1m32.31s
14 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m32.668s 1m33.719s
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT 1m31.991s
16 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m32.809s
17 Oscar Piastri McLaren-Mercedes 1m32.902s
18 Logan Sargeant Williams-Mercedes 1m33.252s
19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m33.258s
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m33.397s
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