Scuderia Ferrari secured pole position with Sainz at the Singapore GP and claimed third place with Leclerc. The Maranello team has bounced back on a track that didn’t seem to suit the SF-23’s characteristics. The margins over Russell’s Mercedes are slim, down to thousandths of a second, but this Ferrari has found consistency that allows the Spanish driver to put everyone in line just two weeks after Monza. If both Ferrari drivers were competing for victory, could they engage in a battle like at the Temple of Speed?
Two weeks ago at Monza, after Carlos Sainz’s pole position, there were some ironic comments among rivals. Some suggested that Ferrari had pushed the power unit to the limit to perform well at their home race. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc confirmed the strong showing in qualifying the next day, but it was still Monza.
Singapore, compared to the Autodromo Nazionale, isn’t just a thirteen-hour flight away; it’s a different world in terms of track type, temperatures, and asphalt. Yet, after an intense qualifying session, Carlos Sainz topped the leaderboard once again.
The pole position in Singapore may not have been celebrated with the Monza crowd, but it’s strategically more crucial than the one obtained in the Italian Grand Prix. It confirms technical growth that goes beyond low-downforce tracks like Monza and Baku.
Most importantly, it firmly establishes Carlos Sainz’s period of great form. Once again, he managed to secure a result that wasn’t in Charles Leclerc’s hands. Even though the margins are tiny, sometimes down to thousandths of a second, their importance lies in the implications. Today in Singapore, they made a significant difference.
Carlos’ improvement isn’t sudden; it’s the result of ongoing work, as he explained after the pole in Singapore. “There are incremental gains you manage to put together race after race throughout the season,” confirmed Carlos Sainz. “During the summer break, there’s a bit more time to relax but also to meet with the engineers and discuss what worked and what deserves further analysis, a time where you understand which areas need more focus. That’s why we’ve made progress in recent races. Now the goal is to continue on this path until the end of the season and, hopefully, into the next year.”
Carlos’s pole came after a clean lap that allowed him to preserve the rear tires for the crucial final sector. “It was one of my strengths this weekend,” confirmed Carlos Sainz. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Charles Leclerc‘s hopes of securing pole position disappeared in the last sector (at turn 17). Until turn 16, he was narrowly ahead of his teammate but was ultimately overtaken by George Russell.
For Charles and Ferrari, Mercedes’ second-place finish was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. It arrived late in the session and complicates race strategies for the 62 laps tomorrow. Having the front row in their hands would have made it easier in terms of scenarios to manage.
If Charles Leclerc has to race with the imperative of gaining at least one position, Carlos Sainz has only one goal. “I’m more confident than at Monza,” he confirmed, “especially due to the layout of the track. Here in Singapore, it’s easier to hold position on the track. In Friday’s simulations, Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Red Bull were better than us in tire management, so I don’t rule out the possibility that tomorrow we’ll have to play a bit defensively. But I also don’t rule out the possibility that we can maintain the lead on this track; we know it’s much harder to overtake here than on other circuits. And then, I won’t lie; I have a good feeling with the car. I’m driving very well, and it’s probably the best moment since I’ve been a Ferrari driver; I’m finally expressing my full potential.”
Carlos Sainz’s confidence is evident in the stopwatch as well as his body language. Sitting next to him, Leclerc seems to play a role that Carlos has often had. “I’m struggling more,” Charles admits. “Since the season resumed after the summer break, the car is a bit understeering for me and quite difficult to predict in its reactions. Obviously, I’m paying the price in terms of confidence. But despite all that, what I put together today was a good lap, except for a small mistake at turn 17 that cost me.”
With the prospects created by the qualifying result, it’s reasonable to talk about a Ferrari that will start tomorrow as the favorite for victory. This role isn’t guaranteed by large margins but is nevertheless tangible. And, two weeks after Monza, the memory of the fierce battle between the Scuderia’s two drivers is still fresh. If a similar scenario arises, but with victory at stake, will they be allowed to race freely?
“Well, first of all, the track’s characteristics don’t allow us to have a battle like we did in the last race,” explained Sainz. “In Monza, you can fight; there’s plenty of space. But here, the scenario is very different.”
“Of course,” added Charles Leclerc, “if we’re under pressure from Mercedes, I’m quite sure the positions will be frozen. Otherwise, with our rivals at a safe distance, we’ll see what the team decides. We will adapt to the team’s position.”