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Ferrari decided before qualifying to sacrifice second-place car in Singapore GP

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Ferrari approached the Singapore Grand Prix intending to use whichever of its cars qualified second to maximise the other’s chances of winning if it took pole position.

The team ended Red Bull’s previously unbeaten run in the 2023 season with Carlos Sainz Jnr’s victory at the Marina Bay Street Circuit last weekend.

Sainz qualified on pole position, less than a tenth of a second ahead of Charles Leclerc, who took third behind George Russell. Ferrari chose to put Leclerc on the less durable soft tyres at the start to get him ahead of the Mercedes, then slowed the pace of the race to deprive their rivals of tactical options.

This compromised Leclerc when most of the drivers pitted at once during an early Safety Car period, but ensured Sainz kept the lead and went on to win. Leclerc slipped to fourth at the finish.

Leclerc said Ferrari realised before the race their best chance of winning lay in claiming pole position and then controlling the race.

“It was clear already from the Saturday night after qualifying, probably even before qualifying, that whoever was first, the second car would have to basically help the car in front,” he said. “So this was clear and we did a good job so I’m really happy that at least the team could win.

“It also motivates me and gives me an extra push in order to win one before the end of the season.”

Ferrari’s win was “a huge boost to the team” which has climbed to third place in the constructors championship behind Mercedes following a difficult start to 2023.

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“After the first part of the season that we had, it was obviously a difficult one. To be honest, if you had asked me four or five races ago, I would have said that Red Bull would have won all races.

“If there was one opportunity, it was Singapore, as they were probably not on top form. The team has done an incredible job of being at the right opportunity, right up there. And Carlos did a great job too.

“So it’s a big boost for the team and for the rest of the year, especially that it’s been two or three races that we feel we are going in the right direction, that we are working in the right direction.”

Leclerc does not expect Ferrari to be as competitive in the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. He predicted they will be in a three-way fight to decide which team finishes closest to Red Bull.

“It’s very difficult to predict any team’s performance this year because it’s just varying so much from track to track. We did not expect Red Bull to struggle that much in Singapore. We did not expect us to be that quick in Singapore. I hope the surprise will be a good surprise for us too this weekend.

“However I think we expect Red Bull to be obviously in front and then it to be a close fight with McLaren and Mercedes. It has been the case for the whole year and every hundredth makes a difference. So it’s very difficult to predict for now whether we will be in front or behind. But we’ll do our best to be the best of the rest.”

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2023 Singapore Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Ferrari decided before qualifying to sacrifice second-place car in Singapore GP”

  1. Last caption competition winner must have been right, can we say that Ferrari won by outsmarting Mercedes on strategy when it counted the most?

    As much as they have been sub par more often than not, we have to give them credit that strategy was spot on in Singapore, and well done to Leclerc to accept his part.

    1. All round great job from them all and leclerc too as you mention.

      Had mercedes favoured one car they could have won also but I suppose that wasn’t their aim to sacrifice one for the other. They can still get a win this season as can leclerc. Especially if redbull tapers off somehow and starts to show effects of the weak wind tunnel penatly. This seems very unlikely though to be every weekend considering their advantage so far this season and with next year just following on from this.

      Can see red bull giving up another win or two though at least and who knows maybe more if the TD has somehow actually hurt them

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