Martin Brundle summarized the Singapore Grand Prix

Former Formula 1 driver and Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle summarized the Singapore Grand Prix…

What different breeds we have seen lately. Rainy and unpredictable Zandvoort, fast and dry Monza, endless bends in high humidity in Singapore. It’s hard to find three songs that are equally different, but the competition on each proved fierce.

In Monza the star was Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari, although he only finished third, but in Singapore he dominated from pole to flag. After the finish he said: “I had enough lead and speed to control the race.” And the way he used Lando Norris’ McLaren as an obstacle for two fast Mercedes cars approaching from behind and slowing down so Norris could use DRS was as risky as it was brilliant.

Ferrari’s strategy started at Turn 1, with Sainz maintaining the lead while his teammate Charles Leclerc took the lead from George Russell in the Soft. Ferrari were then able to save their tires at a relatively slow pace, keeping the entire group of 19 starting drivers together and not giving the drivers behind them a chance to take the lead with fresh tires. Sometimes such races turn into a procession, but not this time.

This was the 14th Singapore Grand Prix, every previous race here had been interrupted at least once by a safety car, although there had never been a red flag. The circuit is completely surrounded by walls and barriers, there is no full-fledged service circuit, like on stationary race tracks – just not too many gates for maintenance; a damaged car or parts thereof are likely to end up near the track, requiring the presence of marshals and equipment on the track.

More than a quarter of past incidents took place in the four corners that no longer exist on the new shortened circuit, and with no rain expected we wondered if this race could be run more cleanly.

However, Logan Sargent’s collision with the barrier on lap 19 brought out the safety car, allowing the frontrunners to quickly change tires.

The problem for Ferrari was that the drivers were driving close to each other and there was only one option to make a pit stop. Leclerc dropped back a bit to make room, but slightly overestimated his abilities and finished quite far from the pits when Sainz returned to the track after his pit stop. He had to wait for the others to pass before being released, which cost him two places and ruined his chances of finishing on the podium.

After two unsuccessful days, the Red Bull cars started from 11th and 13th place. The car, which grips the track this season as if the tires were smeared with superglue, suddenly appeared almost uncontrollable. The team tried to find settings to overcome the bumps and specific problems of the track by changing the stiffness and height of the suspension, but everything went wrong.

The fact that Verstappen was not punished for blocking Tsunoda in qualifying came as a big surprise to many, given the other penalties handed out this season. And the fact that Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri team simply didn’t send a representative to the stewards’ hearing really disappointed me.

After starting on Hard, the last thing the Red Bull drivers needed was a relatively early safety car. They had to stay on the track for a long time, as no other composition would allow them to reach the finish without an additional pit stop. As a result, they still needed a safety car, but on lap 39 Perez’s tires were no longer effective and Verstappen pitted a lap later. Just three laps later, Esteban Ocon suffered problems and a virtual safety car was called. It just wasn’t a Red Bull weekend.

Mercedes was looking forward to delivering a new Medium kit. Everything went perfectly for them. Russell and Hamilton were so fast that with ten laps to go I would have bet on George to win, but I would have only lost my money.

They got ahead of Leclerc’s Ferrari quite easily, and when they were behind Norris they had to attack straight away. Russell almost succeeded, but Norris was close enough to the leading Sainz to use DRS – this added 8mph to the top speed and four tenths to the lap. Such a frenetic pace caused the tires of the Mercedes cars to overheat and start to slide around the track.

Sainz and Norris showed excellent “team play”, even though they do not play in the same team! Remarkably, they were only seventh and eighth in the list of best laps, losing two seconds to Hamilton’s best lap.

If Russell had passed Norris on the first attempt, he would have won the race. I mentioned in the comment that on street circuits, if you drive right behind an opponent, you can fall into a trance, fixated on the rear wing of the lead car.

When chasing another car, the driver must monitor braking points, position the car correctly on the track and operate the accelerator pedal precisely. The smallest mistake will send you into the wall, which is unfortunately what happened to Russell.

I’ve never won a Formula 1 race, I’ve never had a car that could win. Several times I could have stolen the victory, but for various reasons I couldn’t. Thirty years later I was still in pain, just like George was after that race. He has already achieved one victory, his day will come, but the pain will remain.

Lando must have the same gremlins on his mind after three potential wins eluded him in 2021. But his day will surely come.

After Stroll’s accident, there were 19 cars on the starting field in qualifying. I thank Formula 1, the FIA, the teams and the medical team for their hard work to ensure safety as this accident could have ended very badly. I hope he will be healthy and motivated for Suzuka.

Oscar Piastri, who finished seventh, and Liam Lawson, who scored his first points, continued to impress. They have done an excellent job disproving the widespread theory in Formula 1 that it is not worth the risk to invite newcomers.

If you listen to my comments sometimes, you know that I have always been a fan of Carlos Sainz. Some colleagues disagreed with me, one even made a bet with me that Leclerc would dominate in this pair (not yet paid).

I competed with his father Carlos in the Toyota works team in Rally GB. Then in Barcelona Carlos Sr drove our amazing Toyota GT One Le Mans car and was incredibly fast, but I soon found out that he had been practicing for a week. If you don’t prepare, you will fail. But he prepared himself so that he became a multiple world rally champion and Dakar winner. He’s fast, determined and a very good person, and the apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Sainz and Leclerc form a fantastic line-up. Ferrari appear to be getting the hang of their car, which will increase interest in the remaining races of the season, even as Verstappen and Red Bull look set to take early championship victories.

Non-Red Bull experts do not believe the FIA’s recent technical directive has anything to do with the team’s difficulties in Singapore. In fact, Red Bull’s cars looked very good during the race, so let’s not jump to conclusions before the finish in Suzuka.

Source: F1 News

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