Singapore GP 2023

SEPTEMBER 16, 2023

Qualifying Report - Sainz takes pole for Ferrari

Carlos Sainz
© Ferrari

By Peter Habicht

Carlos Sainz took pole at Singapore for Ferrari with a 1m30.984s lap in a dramatic qualifying session which saw George Russell's Mercedes deny the Scuderia a front row lockout in the closing moments as he bested Charles Leclerc's time of 1:31.063s by 0.007s.

Red Bull would miss Q3 in their first absence from the top ten since 2018 as both drivers continued struggling with their cars.

Lando Norris in fourth was happy with the team's result on the grid ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

"To be ahead of both Mercedes and both Red Bulls as well was a bit of a surprise." Norris shared, "We have pace … to stay where we are at least so that's the plan."

Both Haas drivers made it through to Q3 with Kevin starting from sixth and Nico Hulkenberg from ninth. Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin and Esteban Ocon's Alpine will start sixth and seventh, respectively.

AlphaTauri's rookie Liam Lawson qualified an impressive tenth in his third race, eliminating Max Verstappen in the closing moments of Q2 as the Dutchman continued his struggles with his Red Bull, while allegedly impeding in the pit lane and on track in two separate incidents.

Afterwards, Max had some thoughts on how things have been unraveling for the team this weekend, "FP3 was already a little bit better, I think we were heading in the right direction actually, but then we changed a few more things thinking we could (improve the car) in the setup it would allow us but it ended up being I think too aggressive where I was just sliding around a lot in every corner, lost a lot of front grip as well every time in the big braking zones I was bottoming out a lot so that was unloading the front tires so then i couldn't really hit the brakes like I wanted to. I basically had to do like a really gentle approach otherwise the car would go down too much … and that doesn't work on a street circuit…"

Coming off a record setting ten consecutive wins this season, he continued: "I don't think we'll be able to do much … around here it will most likely be a one stop if you know nothing crazy happens. Passing you need to be a lot faster and I don't think we are… [it was] a very shocking experience."

Pierre Gasly qualified in 12th, followed by winner of last year's race, Red Bull's Sergio Perez. Perez lost control at turn two, spinning in the closing moments of the round at turn three.

Williams' Alex Albon led the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, who managed the fastest time in Q1 as Aston Martin's Lance Stroll ran into the barrier going wide in the final corner. Stroll emerged unhurt after tearing a front wheel from the car and bringing out a red flag to halt the session. Several drivers aborted late hot laps as the wreckage littered the start finish straight, with Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas and notably McLaren's Oscar Piastri losing out on setting a quick time.

Logan Sargeant went on to qualify 18th for Williams ahead of Alfa Romeo's Guanyu Zhou, who will start alongside Stroll tomorrow.