Max Verstappen’s recent setback in Singapore cast doubt on his continued dominance in Formula One. However, those doubts were quickly silenced when the Dutch sensation put on a spectacular show at the Suzuka circuit in Japan.
Red Bull Racing were determined to prove that Singapore was just a fluke, and Verstappen’s commanding performance in Suzuka did just that. Fans and pundits have admitted that this remarkable turnaround coupled with Verstappen’s bold predictions has sent a devastating message to his critics.
Singapore setback: A temporary blip
The shockwaves of Red Bull’s defeat in Singapore, which ended the team’s 15-race winning streak and Verstappen’s 10-race winning streak, were still being felt. It was a race where everything seemed to go wrong. The RB19’s set-up was off, the car’s strengths had become weaknesses and the FIA’s clampdown on flexi-wings was thought to be unrelated. Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner was adamant that Singapore was just an aberration.
Verstappen’s bold prediction
As the Formula One circus moved on to Suzuka, Christian Horner was confident that Max Verstappen would reassert his dominance. Ahead of the race, Verstappen made a bold prediction that captured the determination that is in the Dutch driver. Horner revealed on the Wednesday before the race, Verstappen made his intentions loud and clear:
“Sometimes the races you lose are the weekends you learn the most out of,” the Red Bull team boss told media,
“It was a big reminder for everybody that it’s very easy to miss the target.
“I think we all left Singapore knowing that ultimately the winning run would come to an end, but we were a little frustrated.
“I was playing padel tennis with Max on Wednesday and he was properly fired up. He made it clear: ‘I want to win the race by 20 seconds.’
“He managed to come within 0.7 seconds of doing that. From the very first lap in FP1, where on the Hard tyre he was 1.8 seconds faster than the rest of the field on Medium and Soft tyres.
“He was totally focused on this event.”
Verstappen’s stellar performance
Max Verstappen’s performance in Suzuka left no room for doubt. From the very first lap of practice, it was clear he meant business. In FP1, he drove his RB19 on hard tyres and was 1.8 seconds quicker than the rest of the field on medium and soft tyres. This early display of dominance set the tone for the entire weekend. In Saturday’s qualifying session, Verstappen took pole position by a staggering 0.581 seconds, leaving his nearest rival, Oscar Piastri, in the dust.
Praise from the top
Verstappen’s qualifying laps at Suzuka earned him high praise from Formula One’s top brass. Christian Horner couldn’t help but praise his star driver’s astonishing performance, highlighting that Suzuka is a track that Verstappen particularly enjoys. Horner said:
“It’s a circuit that he loves and enjoys, it’s one of the ultimate drivers’ circuit,” said Horner.
“It was an outstanding performance, his laps in qualifying, particularly the final lap, stand out as one of the best F1 qualifying laps. It’s got to be up there with one of the best laps of all time in qualifying.”
Max Verstappen’s commanding victory at Suzuka not only erased any doubts from the Singapore Grand Prix, but also demonstrated such confidence in his abilities with the RB19 monster.
With bold predictions, a stellar performance and high praise from his team principal, Verstappen sent a clear message to his critics: he’s still the driver to beat in F1 and his quest for victory continues unabated. Suzuka was not just a race, it was a statement.
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