The Singapore Grand Prix weekend took an unexpected turn for Red Bull Racing as Max Verstappen struggled in qualifying and the team grappled with the FIA’s clampdown on flexi-wings.
While the Dutchman’s radio messages during qualifying raised eyebrows, Red Bull’s performance called into question whether the title race was truly “sewn up”.
Verstappen’s qualifying frustration
Max Verstappen’s frustration was palpable after a difficult qualifying session in Singapore, a surprising sight given his commanding lead in the championship. Despite showing signs of improvement in the final practice session, Verstappen found himself in fourth place on the grid.
He was particularly critical of the RB19, describing it as “undriveable”, “really bad” and the experience as “shocking”.
Peter Windsor, former Ferrari team manager and motorsport commentator, expressed surprise at Verstappen’s “grumpy” radio messages. He noted that Verstappen had enjoyed a stellar season in an exceptional car, so his strong reaction was somewhat unexpected.
Verstappen’s over-the-top reaction
Windsor commented on Verstappen’s radio communication, saying it was over the top for a driver with a championship all but secured and a history of success throughout the season. Verstappen’s complaints about the car’s handling and performance seemed out of character given his track record.
“We didn’t see the whole lap but I heard the radio transmission from Max afterward which was pretty grumpy, really overly so I think, for a guy who’s got this year’s championship sewn up, who’s had a brilliant car underneath him all year,” Windsor said after qualifying.
“It was along the lines of did you see that, it was just impossible to drive.
Windsor said: “It was really over the top, I thought about that reaction. But not happy.”
Perez’s spin and front-end problems
While much of the focus was on Verstappen’s struggles in qualifying, Sergio Perez also struggled, qualifying in 13th place. His dissatisfaction was evident when he spun in Turn 1, which Windsor described as an “inelegant spin”, reminiscent of an inexperienced driver:
“Sergio Perez just lost the whole thing at Turn One in a very inelegant spin, the type a rather inexperienced driver would have. It was obviously just no front end from his point of view at all.” said Windsor.
Perez’s problems were primarily related to a lack of front-end grip, making his spin in Turn 1 an unfortunate incident.
Red Bull Racing’s challenges in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix raised questions about the team’s adaptability and the impact of the FIA’s Flexi Wing clampdown.
Certainly, Verstappen’s unexpected frustration shows that even dominant seasons can have their trying moments. Red Bull now face the daunting task of maintaining their winning streak and securing a strong result in Singapore, something Red Bull admits isn’t very likely.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 16, 2023