Red Bull disaster as transmission faults surface

Red Bull Racing are facing their worst weekend of the 2023 F1 season in Singapore. Further, given the importance of starting the race around the marina bay circuit from the front row the incredible run of 15 consecutive wins from the world champions and Verstappen’s run of 10 is now in jeopardy.

The team’s reserve drivers hit the simulator throughout the night to resolve the fundamental balance problems their drivers faced on Friday which saw them only 7th and 8th quickest in the second practice session.



Red Bull improve car’s balance

On Friday the teams run older engines and gear boxes which are stripped from the car for Saturday qualifying and the race. This clearly improved the RB19 as Verstappen was four tenths closer to the fastest time in FP3 but still behind Sainz, Russell and Lando Norris.

While the mechanical grip clearly improved for the final runs before qualifying, Sergio Perez who in 2022 was on pole and won the race failed to improve much in the standings and was seventh quickest in the session.

Verstappen was suffering again with upshift and downshifts through the gears as he complained on the radio, “these upshifts what the fuck?”



Verstappen fumes over gear shifts

The team called the world champion into the pits to adjust the software controlling the gear changes, but it appeared to make little difference as Verstappen reported again, “I’m sorry I can’t drive with these upshifts.”

The F1 cars in Singapore rely heavily on the downshifts for braking through the 90 degree turns and the upshifts deliver the all important traction out of these slow corners.

This is where Ferrari have been strong all season and they were predicted to go well in Singapore given much of the lap time is derived from good traction and acceleration out of the slow corners.

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Uphill battle before qualifying

Max continued to fume about his “unacceptable” transmission and  reported wheel spin in almost each upshift phase which of course is costing him lap time. 

Red Bull may look to ‘soften’ the seamless gear shift performance on the RB19 before qualifying to eliminate the wheel spin. However this will be at the cost of a certain amount of performance and without any more track time before the car setup is locked in for the rest of the weekend the engineers can not be certain where exactly the trade off should now be set.

Former F1 strategist and engineer Bernie Collins, revealed to Sky F1, “There are a lot of electronic changes they can make to the shifts, they can take them from this very harsh shift.”

“But the thing with a harsh shift is, it’s very quick. So, actually, it doesn’t lose a lot of speed down the straight. If you go to a softer shift, that’s safer and will feel nicer in the car, but it will be slower.”



Max ironic radio report

Verstappen regained some of his usual dry humour when asked at the end of the session had the changes made by the team had any effect.“I’m just struggling for rear grip. Did you see that last sector, I’m just drifting. If I compete in drifting, I might win the race,” he amusingly reported over the radio on his in lap.

While Verstappen finished fourth in FP3 it could have been worse given Charles Leclerc had to back out of his final run on fresh tyres and didn’t have the battery charge to deliver another attempt before the chequered flag fell.

Wolff back pedals


Hamilton way behind team mate

Ferrari have topped all of the practice sessions in Singapore this weekend though Mercedes George Russell gave Sainz a run for his money late in the day.

Russell finished just 69 milliseconds behind the Ferrari and Lando Norris with his heavily upgraded McLaren was a respectable two tenths further behind.

Lewis Hamilton continued to be behind his team mate as he finished just sixth in the session almost half a second off the pace.

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Yuki fights off Lawson

Oscar Piastri who is waiting until Japan for the upgrade his team mate is running was a respectable seventh another two tenths behind Hamilton.

In his fight for a drive in 2024, Yuki Tsunoda managed to overhaul his team mates previous dominance although Liam Lawson spun on his final attempt at a push lap finishing in 16th, six places behind his AlphaTauri team mate.

All is not lost for Red Bull to continue their extraordinary run of wins given they at least solved the balance issues with their lead car. It all now hangs on whether the gearshift problems Max was experiencing can be resolved giving him a fighting chance to start on the front row of there grid tomorrow.

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Red Bull new floor problematic?

Given the FIA have forced the teams to comply with new design regulations at this race weekend affecting the front wings and the floor of the cars, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility the problems they are experiencing is because they are not running a new floor on the pair of RB19s.

The knock on effect of the change of airflow under the car may be leading to rear instability not previously experienced, which then makes the car light on the corner exit causing the seamless shift to spin up the wheels.


READ MORE: Red Bull new floor questioned

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