The Saturday in F1 Singapore GP was a shock for the Red Bull pair to be knocked out as Ferrari had back-to-back poles.

It played quite differently on Saturday of F1 Singapore GP where both the Red Bull drivers were knocked out in Q2 for the first time in 2023. Max Verstappen was beaten by AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson, while Sergio Perez spun on his fast lap.

It culminated a difficult F1 qualifying for the Red Bull pair as Ferrari took charge with Carlos Sainz securing a solid consecutive poles where teammate Charles Leclerc was not far behind in third. They both fancy a race win to end the winning streak.

But they have Mercedes’ George Russell in between who continued his solid weekend too along with McLaren’s Lando Norris behind. Russell’s teammate Lewis Hamilton ended up in the Top 5 but Norris’ teammate Oscar Piastri was knocked out in Q1.

The Australian had to evade the stricken Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, whose teammate Fernando Alonso seemingly was only seventh. In fact, he was beaten by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who made it the Top 10 along with teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

Sainz: “It’s been, I think one of my strongest points of the weekend, really, keeping the rear tyres alive for the last sector. Yeah, again in Q3, I made sure that I kept that advantage going into Q3 because it’s always easy in Singapore to over-push, to have a snap here and there and end up losing the lap. And yeah, even though I felt like I didn’t take too many risks during that lap, I kept it clean and it gave me a strong last sector and it was enough for pole position. So yeah, very happy with it. I’m more confident, mainly because of the track layout. I think it’s a bit easier to hold on to our track position. That obviously gives me more confidence than Monza in terms of pace, I really have no idea how we’re going to be. Looking at long run data from Friday. the Merc, the Aston and the Red Bull did look a bit quicker than us in tyre degradation and race pace, so it could be that tomorrow we have to run, yet again, a bit of a defensive race. But I don’t discount that even around this track we could hold on to a P1 because it’s a lot more difficult to pass than other tracks this season, but our race pace still looks like our weakest point. I don’t think you can ever discount Max and Red Bull. they might turn up tomorrow with a race pace that they’ve had there all season, and still managed somehow to make through the field. But, for sure, around here, they have a much more difficult task. And it’s a much better opportunity than Monza, for example. I think tomorrow the race is going to be between the top five cars that we’re starting. I think it is true that George has this extra medium tyre but we could also do a two-stop as the Soft didn’t look too bad. Yeah, I think it will be a tough race to manage, a tough race to put together but I think if we nail it, we have a great opportunity. And that’s the target tomorrow, of course.”

Russell: “The car has been feeling amazing, this whole weekend. Huge credit to the whole team, they’ve been working so hard, put in a lot of efforts to maximise the car we’ve got, understanding it, looking ahead to next year as well: everybody’s you know, given 100 per cent so really pleased to translate that into a really solid result today. And, as I said, it was really, really enjoyable. To be honest, since the break, I feel like I’ve been really hooked-up with the car. Set-up’s been in a great window, working really well with my engineers. Some say it’s the new hair. I don’t know. I think it’s just good work and just enjoying it. Having fun out there. I’ll definitely be going for it. I think that will make our life easier. I think we’ve got the pace over Ferrari in the race but, as I said, we’ve got a strategic advantage over them. So, I’m pretty relaxed, even if we are P2 after Turn One – or even P3, because as I said, we’re the only team who can do a two-stop race. Tyre-deg looks bad and I hope we’re going to put them in a challenging position to fend this off. So, it brings…  I’m feeling good, I’m feeling excited.  I think the fight will be with Ferrari. We can’t discount Lando either, he’s got good race pace. Their race pace probably looked a little bit ahead of Ferrari’s. But it’s just going to be around that tyre degradation, around the pitstops. In all honesty, we’re sitting here now, we don’t know exactly how the tyre deg’s going to pan out but on a circuit that is difficult to overtake, you’re going to have to bide your time and maximise it around those pitstops.”

Leclerc: “I’m struggling a little bit more – since the restart of the break actually – with the car. Quite a bit of understeer, but then also quite snappy. So difficult to predict what is the car going to do on the track, which I pay the price a little bit with the confidence I have inside the car. But at the same time honestly, it was a good lap. A small mistake in Turn 17 which cost me too much but apart from that I’m happy with the lap. It wasn’t enough today, though. Of course, as always. I think we’ve got a good car this weekend, so why not? Again, Carlos and I have great starting positions. Now, let’s see what’s possible tomorrow.”

Verstappen: “I mean, FP3 was already a little bit better and I think we were heading in the right direction actually, but we changed a few more things, thinking we could do it in the set-up… but it ended up being too aggressive where I was just sliding around a lot in every corner. I lost a lot of front grip as well every time in the big braking zones. I was bottoming out a lot, and that was unloading the front tyres so I couldn’t really hit the brakes like I wanted to – I basically had to do like a really gentle approach, otherwise the car would go down too much, and that doesn’t work on a street circuit, so it was really, really difficult. I don’t think we’ll be able to do much. Around here, it will most likely be a one-stop [race] if nothing crazy happens. Passing, you need to be a lot faster and I don’t think we are. So, a very shocking experience.”

Perez: “In my final attempt, I had a massive under-delivery from the engine. Big lag, then it came back, which meant I locked [the wheels and spun] and couldn’t have a final attempt on that last lap. Yesterday the [race] pace looked really good, but I don’t expect great things to be honest. Given where we’re starting, it’s going to be pretty difficult to make progress from there.”

Norris: “A very good day for us today. I’m very happy with P4. I was close to the front – two-tenths – but there was not two-tenths in it today. I felt like I got everything out of it, so I’m very happy. The team have done a great job, so I’m proud of everyone. We’re in a good position tomorrow to score some good points. The race is always very tricky around here, so we’re not getting ahead of ourselves, but we have a good enough car to challenge, and we’ll see what we can do.”

Magnussen: “First of all, for whatever reason, the car is stronger on this track. We’ve done a good job and capitalised on the good form of the car, got both cars into Q3 and we start from a good position tomorrow. We know it’s hard to overtake here, I would love to still have the little twisty corners in sector three now that I’m here because we know our race pace isn’t quite there to stay where we are, but maybe on this track there’s a chance. That comes with a little extra pressure as you know it’s a bit of a one-off chance and we really want to grab it and score some points tomorrow.”

Hulkenberg: “It’s a very strong result for the team to have both cars in Q3. I don’t think we expected that so that’s a pleasant surprise and we’ll enjoy this today, regardless of what happens tomorrow. It was a really strong performance by Kevin, he was on it all of qualifying, so I really had to give it everything and didn’t get it quite connected and clean on my side, but that’s how it is sometimes. We’ve always been strong in qualifying, the low-speed favours us too. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

The Top 10 also had Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who found pace in F1 qualifying unlike teammate Pierre Gasly who ended up in Q2. AlphaTauri’s Lawson had his first Q3 run whereas teammate Yuki Tsunoda made a mistake on his final run.

He couldn’t set a lap time after his first run was disrupted by Verstappen and on the second lap, he made a mistake. The Q2 had Williams’ Alexander Albon who was pleased with result due to the struggles, while Alfa Romeo found themselves in the bottom along with Stroll, who rued couple of moments for the incident.

Ocon: “Firstly, well done to the entire team for today’s performance as it’s a well-deserved Q3 appearance and one in which we’ve had to put a lot of work in. The car has felt good all weekend so far and we were able to extract the maximum when it counted today to put ourselves in a good starting position for tomorrow’s race. Credit to the team back at the factories who brought these upgrades to Singapore, which allowed us to clearly make a step in the right direction. Focus now turns to the race tomorrow where we’ll be targeting a good race and hopefully some points in the bag.”

Lawson: “It’s obviously exciting being in Q3, but we didn’t maximise the performance, and it’s something we have to look at. It’s a shame for Yuki because we have a strong package, and he looks comfortable in the car. For me, it was warm-up related because I didn’t feel the jump in grip for the last lap and there was lots of traffic in the last sector, so that was tricky. I’m happy to make it into Q3 but there’s more potential to be higher up. It’s a shame, but I’m still learning and there’s more to come. Today went well, but tomorrow is the important one. I’m starting in a good position in P10, but two hours is a long race and will be challenging. We’ll focus on maximising our car and driving our race.”

Albon: “I think 14th is the best we could do today, so I was happy to get out of Q1. In Q2 I just didn’t feel the grip I did in Q1, so I don’t know if the long time in the garage or the out-lap prep hurt me. We’ve been so mileage limited this weekend, so I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up all weekend and just didn’t quite get there. The tyres seem to be so soft this weekend, requiring you to drive so slow during the out-lap and cool down lap, so I don’t think we fully understood that with the limited track time. I think ultimately with the tyre understanding there was more to be learnt but I don’t think it would’ve changed the result too much. We haven’t done a race run so that will make things a bit more challenging, but we’ll put our focus on tomorrow.”

Bottas: “My laps today were actually good, but we lacked something to be in Q2. I did find some traffic towards the end of my final lap but, overall, we appear to have lost some pace compared to yesterday, and we had to make some compromises with the setup. It felt we couldn’t extract much from our car, which is quite frustrating as, yesterday, it seemed we were on the path to build something good. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, and making progress will not be an easy task; we must focus on making the best out of our strategy and of any situation that may present itself. This is a street track, after all, and we have seen some unpredictable situations in the past here: if we play our cards well, we may still have a chance to bring home a good result tomorrow.”

Stroll: “I’m okay, everything’s okay” – before explaining what had led to the crash. It was really bad. We just had a very bad out-lap with traffic, no temperature in the tyres, I had just no grip out there the whole session. In the end, I saw we were going out, so I just pushed in the last corner and tried to make up some time but it didn’t work. We just weren’t really improving on that last lap with the out-lap being really bad. I had a lot of traffic, guys trying to make the line at the end. We got stopped at the weighbridge so that put us at the back of the queue and then I had to try and pass a bunch of cars to get my lap in before the end of the session. I started my lap two seconds behind one of the Alpines, which is really not ideal for aero performance. I was just not really improving my lap time much to get through to Q2 so I sent it into the last corner, tried to make up some time. It was not really doable. It happens quickly but I know why I crashed. It was just because I wasn’t going fast enough to get through. Having the car two seconds in front is really bad for aero. You lose tonnes of downforce around here with the funnelling of the walls especially. We’ll see what we can do [tomorrow], but it’s tough to pass around here, so… we’ll see what we can do.”

Here’s how F1 Singapore GP qualifying panned out