Singapore Grand Prix: Hamilton and Norris notch another double British podium20 September 2023
Intrigue was high ahead of the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix. Max Verstappen had won 10 Grand Prix in a row, but how far could he take it? Could he go one better in Singapore or could the indomitable Red Bull finally be toppled in 2023? The answer, it turns out, was yes. Verstappen and the Milton Keynes team struggled for pace all weekend, but the race also yielded a double British podium like the one we saw at the British Grand Prix earlier this season.
Russell stars in qualifyingMercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team driver George Russell threatened the top of the timesheets for much of the weekend starting in practice, but then his true pace was realised as he held the top spot for much of the Q2 session. Although Carlos Sainz eventually displaced his time, he’d made his intentions abundantly clear for the ensuing final stage of qualifying.
Having gone purple in the first sector and fourth overall during the first Q3 runs, Russell built to a crescendo when, on his final attempt, he went purple again – this time in the middle sector – coming within just seven-tenths of pole-sitter Sainz in the Ferrari. An outstanding effort.
READ MORE: George Russell's top nine very British team radio moments
British drivers lock horns in the early stages As the lights went out, Charles Leclerc on the Soft Pirelli tyres got past Russell, leaving the #63 driver to fend off his team mate. Hamilton ended up in the Turn 1 run-off area, and re-joined ahead of both Norris and Russell which quickly became a topic of conversation on team radio.
Hamilton would eventually give back the positions to his compatriots and settled into fifth. The Brits kept a watchful eye over the Ferraris ahead, but the order would remain unchanged until a Safety Car deployment on Lap 21 brought the front runners in for Hard tyres.
Once they had dispatched Max Verstappen – who was yet to stop – the three Brits set about chasing the seemingly unflappable Sainz, and at half race distance the top four were separated by less than two-and-a-half seconds.
A roll of the dice
Although it had been ultra-close at the top, it wasn’t until Lap 44 and a Virtual Safety Car that the order would change again for the front runners. Having conserved a fresh set of Medium tyres during qualifying, the Mercedes duo - buoyed by their freshly signed contracts - played their hand, taking the ‘cheap’ pit stop and re-emerging in fourth and fifth.
Russell led the charge, bridging a 15-second gap and overhauling third-placed Leclerc in just eight laps, then closing in on Norris, overcoming a seven-second deficit in another four laps.
A dramatic finish to the Singapore Grand Prix
Lap 59 presented Russell with his only opportunity to pass Norris with a switchback move at the exit of Turn 14 – like the one he performed on Leclerc several laps earlier – but Norris defended brilliantly and ultimately put an end to the Mercedes charge.
George didn’t give up though, and on the final lap he was hunting for any opening. Unfortunately, he touched the wall with his right-rear tyre at Turn 10, sending him into the barrier and out of the race.
Sainz went on to take a clam and composed victory fending off his pursuers throughout the duration of the Grand Prix. Norris, meanwhile, picked up a well-earned second position and Hamilton claimed his fifth podium of the season.
The Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka is next up as F1 continues its Asian leg.