Winning streak at risk? Max Verstappen declares Red Bull ‘much worse than expected’

Thomas Maher

Red Bull’s unshakeable record of winning every race in 2023 looks far more shakeable after a tough Friday on the streets of Singapore.

Red Bull are chasing the never-before-achieved accomplishment of winning every single race in 2023, but the Milton Keynes-based team’s run could be at risk this weekend after a poor Friday at Marina Bay.

While Max Verstappen was the closest competitor to the leading Ferraris in the daytime running in first practice, the Dutch driver failed to make a big step forward in the more representative evening session – ending the day down in eighth place at the chequered flag for FP2.

Max Verstappen: Red Bull never got the car together

While Ferrari finished with another 1-2 in second practice, Verstappen’s best time on the soft tyre was a full seven-tenths off the pace set by Carlos Sainz, just slotting in behind Sergio Perez in the sister RB19 in seventh.

With Red Bull eclipsed by Ferrari, Mercedes, a McLaren, and an Aston Martin in the evening session, Verstappen was honest when he spoke to reporters at the end of Friday’s track time as he admitted he and the team had failed to unlock the car’s potential.

“It was worse than expected today,” he said, having previously highlighted Singapore as being a potential stumbling block for Red Bull.

“Yeah, I’m just struggling a lot with the balance of the car.

“We tried quite a few things in FP2, some worked, and some didn’t. We never really got the car together so it’s quite a few things to figure out tonight.

“There are just a few things that we don’t understand that we have to look into.”

Asked whether he’s surprised by the pace shown by rivals, such as Ferrari, and whether he thinks he’s still in the fight for pole position with just one practice session left to find such a chunk of time, Verstappen said: “I will try to improve it, of course, but it’s quite a big gap. Ferrari are very fast, but we’re just way worse than we expected.” recommends

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Sergio Perez: Red Bull struggling with the rear of the RB19

During the second practice session, Sergio Perez had offered hints as to why Red Bull were struggling, as he radioed in to his race engineer to report that the rear of his car wasn’t stable under braking.

Elaborating on the situation after the session, the Mexican driver said: “I think there are some interesting bits going on that we need to figure out overnight, hopefully.

“We seem to be struggling quite a bit with the rear end of the car, especially in FP2. So plenty of things to look at and, hopefully, we can come up with the best possible setup because we know qualifying is very important.”

Asked whether he thinks Red Bull can close the gap to compete with Ferrari, he said: “We did expect the Ferrari to be very strong around here. We’re just too far away so, hopefully, tomorrow we’re able to close the gap a bit more. But yeah, I do expect quite a challenge.”

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