After 15 consecutive wins from Red Bull Racing, there was a new winner in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend as Carlos Sainz Jr. took home the win, ending a record breaking streak of nearly four decades.
There had not been a non-Red Bull driver winner in Formula 1 since the Brazilian Grand Prix in November 2022. Since then, the team with two-time champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have claimed P1 for 15 straight races. Red Bull now holds the record for most consecutive team wins in Formula 1 history, smashing the previous 11 win streak set by McLaren in 1988.
There were signs of a potential upset in Singapore before the race. Both Vertsappen and Perez struggled with the high downforce track in their Red Bull car, while Ferrari and Mercedes performed well in the early practice sessions. It wasn’t until Qualifying on Saturday which saw both Verstappen and Perez fail to make Q3, missing out on the top 10 starting grid. Perez started in P13, while Vertsppaen in 11th. Sainz took pole position, while Mercedes driver George Russell took P2, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starting in P3.
The race did not go according to plan for Christian Horner and Red Bull, opting to stay on hard tires for over 40 laps. Verstappen managed to get up to 8th, but still struggled with breaking on the track.
“We knew, coming here, we expected to have closer competition, but it took us a bit by surprise just how far out we were on Friday,” Horner discussed after the race. “We were just not in the right operating window for the car, particularly over a single lap.
It wasn’t until Lap 21 where the Safety Car was put into place after Williams driver Logan Sargeant crashed into a barrier, causing chaos in the pit lane with Ferrari and Mercedes double stacking their cars on new tires.
Sainz, Russell, Lando Norris, and Lewis Hamilton led a four-horse race for pole position. A stroke of hope was injected into Mercedes after Esteban Ocon’s Alpine was forced to retire, causing a Virtual Safety Car to be implemented. This gave Russell and Hamilton brand new medium tires, something Ferrari and McLaren had not stopped for. With roughly 15 laps to go, Russell and Hamilton sought out for Leclerc, Norris, and Sainz in front of them.
With both Mercedes’ penetrating, Leclerc fell to 5th, while Norris was the only car in between the Mercedes cars and Sainz. However, some brilliant defending from the McLaren driver gave space to Sainz to pull away into P1, while the battle for podium was still much alive. On the final lap in Sector 2, while trying to overtake Norris, Russell veered off into the barriers, going from a potential 3rd place finish to DNF. It was enough for Norris to claim P2, while Hamilton got P3 at the expense of his teammate.
“[Russell] is totally down,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said after the race. “The race was suddenly over for him but when we spoke, I told him that he fought and pushed until the end.”
The result in Singapore means that Hamilton moves into 3rd place in the Drivers Championship, overtaking Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso by 10 points. Despite not getting a podium, Verstappen still has a massive lead over 2nd place Perez, with the Dutchman leading by 151 points with seven races remaining.
It’s a quick turnaround for the 10 teams on the grid as they now get ready for the Japanese Grand Prix this upcoming weekend. Verstappen won in Japan last season, which clinched his second straight World Driving Championship. Verstappen’s likely route to his third Drivers Championship will likely go through the Qatari Grand Prix, which takes place after Japan. If Verstappen wins the Japanese Grand Prix, and Perez fails to get any points, the Dutchman can win in Qatar.
The focus for Verstappen, Perez, and Red Bull will be to bounce back in Japan following the disappointing weekend in Singapore.
“At some point we were going to get beaten,” Horner continued. “Fifteen in a row is an unbelievable record and we have only been beaten once prior to tonight since last July. At the same time, we have narrowed in on both championships, which we have a chance of winning the constructors’ championship in Japan next weekend.”