Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll escaped unharmed after a major crash during Formula 1 qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday, as runaway World Champion Max Verstappen had a shockingly bad day.
Stroll was in the drop zone during the closing stages of Q1 at the Marina Bay Street Circuit when he lost control of the AMR23 through the high-speed final corner. He struck the wall at an estimated 160 mph and was only narrowly avoided by the following McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
The session was red-flagged, and its resumption delayed for almost 30 minutes while barrier repairs were undertaken, but Stroll was able to walk away unaided.
Stroll was swiftly checked out in the medical centre at the circuit before being given the all-clear.
Surprise for Verstappen
There was another huge surprise in the floodlit qualifying session as Red Bull suffered its worst Saturday result in five years.
Red Bull has won all 14 Grands Prix this season—with Max Verstappen on a streak of 10 successive victories—but the team has struggled for pace throughout the weekend and hasn’t found a suitable set-up window for the RB19. Its quest of the elusive perfect season faces a huge test on Sunday.
Verstappen was able to qualify in only 11th position while Perez made a mistake on his final Q2 push lap and took 13th.
Verstappen has taken 47 victories in his career—12 of them this season alone—but Singapore is the only circuit on the current calendar at which he has competed on multiple occasions without scoring a win.
“You can forget about that,” said Verstappen on his chances of extending his win streak.
“You can’t pass. On other tracks, you can start last, probably at Spa, you can start last and win the race. But not here. Here you need to be two or three seconds faster to have a chance to pass. That’s just street circuit stuff.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 16, 2023
Verstappen was sanguine about the situation, explaining: “I would always take a season where we’re winning this much and having one really bad weekend over the other way around where you’re not fighting for the championship and you’re winning here. I think it’s also important that we understand what we did wrong this weekend, because I’m confident that next week, we’ll go to Suzuka, and it will be fast again. It already felt like that also on the simulator, that this was a difficult setup window for the car. Then we went to Suzuka, and it just felt amazing again like the rest of the races.”
Verstappen also faced three post-session investigations for three separate blocking incidents.
Verstappen was cleared of one infringement but received two reprimands—though retained his starting position.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will start Sunday’s race from pole position—after fronting qualifying for the second event in a row—with Mercedes’ George Russell second and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third.
Haas enjoyed its strongest Saturday performance of the season as it claimed its first double top 10 start, with Kevin Magnussen sixth, and Nico Hulkenberg ninth.
F1 Singapore Grand Prix
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari
George Russell, Mercedes
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Lando Norris, McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Kevin Magnussen, Haas
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin
Esteban Ocon, Alpine
Nico Hulkenberg, Haas
Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri
Max Verstappen, Red Bull
Pierre Gasly, Alpine
Sergio Perez, Red Bull
Alexander Albon, Williams
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo
Oscar Piastri, McLaren
Logan Sargeant, Williams
Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin