Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz collected a tense Singapore Grand Prix to end Max Verstappen’s record-breaking run and Red Bull’s hopes of an undefeated season.
Sainz drove a tactical masterclass in the final laps, keeping Lando Norris’ McLaren close enough that he had use of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid to keep charging Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at bay.
In a dramatic finish, on the final lap Russell crashed out while chasing Norris to hand the final podium spot to Hamilton.
Sainz’s victory was his second in F1 and Ferrari’s first since his teammate Charles Leclerc won the Austrian Grand Prix on July 10 last year.
In the time since, Red Bull had lost only one race, when George Russell won the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.
Sainz’s victory ended Verstappen’s record run of 10 voctories in a row as the huge pace advantage Red Bull had all year disappeared under the lights of Marina Bay.
Verstappen had to settle for fifth position, his first race off the podium this year.
What had been a quiet contest exploded into life in the final 10 laps.
Russell and Hamilton had been brought into contention when Mercedes used a Virtual Safety Car on Lap 45 of 62 to bring both drivers in for fresh tires when the others did not.
The pace advantage saw them quickly catch the lead three cars, but after both got by Leclerc with relative ease, Russell was unable to get past Norris, who was always within one second of Sainz.
When told how close Norris was behind at one stage, Sainz told Ferrari: “Yeah, it’s on purpose.”
F1’s rules allowed him use of the DRS overtaking aid, and the speed boost it gave Norris on the straights was enough to keep the McLaren driver ahead, which he did with some good defending driving four laps from the end.
Having failed to get by Norris on a couple of occasions, Russell then clipped the inside wall and went straight on into the barrier on the final lap.
That promoted Hamilton to third and Leclerc to fourth in the other Ferrari.
Verstappen finished fifth, extending his huge championship lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who concluded eighth.
Verstappen is now 151 points clear; a win Sunday would have given him the opportunity to wrap up the title in Japan next week. Instead, the earliest he can do it is Oct. 8 at the Qatar Grand Prix. Red Bull has utterly dominated the season and will hope the race at Suzuka is business as usual.
Alpine’s Pierre Gasly was sixth, ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.
Liam Lawson continued his impressive start to life in F1, scoring the first points in his career in ninth.
Lawson is expected to drive again at the Japanese Grand Prix, with Daniel Ricciardo still not ready to return to racing after breaking a hand in a crash ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix.
Kevin Magnussen managed to snatch a point for Haas to reward the team for a strong weekend that had seen both cars start inside the top 10.