Qualifying day is in the books at the Singapore Grand Prix, a Saturday which sure did not skip on the drama.
Red Bull were the major talking point for all the wrong reasons, with both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez failing to make the top 10 shootout for pole, while Lance Stroll left Aston Martin with a huge repair job following a heavy Q1 shunt which he thankfully walked away from unharmed.
Let us then bring you up to speed with all the key headlines…
Max Verstappen rues Red Bull qualifying setup errors
There was a strong feeling heading into qualifying that Red Bull were not in as much trouble as it seemed, the team that is unbeaten in F1 2023 racing action expected to unlock pace and challenge for pole position in Singapore.
As it turned out, they did not even come close with Verstappen set to start the race P11, while Perez, who spun on his final Q2 lap, will start P13.
“I knew that it was always going to be tough to put it on pole but this I didn’t expect,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.
“All weekend we have been struggling. FP3 was actually not too bad but then we tried a few more things on the car for qualifying and that I think tipped it over and it became undriveable again.”
Christian Horner assesses “very confusing” Red Bull struggles
With Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on pole ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell, while Red Bull are not even in the top 10, a huge challenge now awaits for Red Bull if they are to maintain their unbeaten status in F1 2023.
Such an alarming drop in pace of course means something has gone very wrong with the RB19 in Singapore, team boss Horner attempting to lift the lid on what potentially may have happened to his team.
“It’s very, very confusing to have dropped the amount of pace that we have,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“The car is just not responding to changes, you can hear this understeer, oversteer, braking issues – it’s like we haven’t managed to get the tyre into the right working window.”
Danica Patrick defends Lance Stroll over F1 commitment
Recently Stroll was forced to quash rumours that he could walk away from Formula 1 and pursue a career in tennis, but he certainly has work to do to get his Formula 1 career back on the right track with Aston Martin.
If this was tennis, then Fernando Alonso at this stage is looking at a straight sets victory over team-mate Stroll, his tally of 170 points dwarfing Stroll’s 47 heading into the Singapore Grand Prix.
His huge Q1 shunt then was another unwanted setback in his Aston Martin career, though when met with the rumours that Stroll’s head and heart is not in the game, former IndyCar racer Danica Patrick leapt to Stroll’s defence.
“Once you strap into the car, you’re into it,” Patrick insisted to Sky F1. “You’re a driver, you know what you’re doing.
“Once you’re outside the car, sure, there can be distractions, but I don’t question when someone gets in whether or not they have heart and soul in it. You have to, you’re going so fast out there, you’re doing something truly challenging that almost no one can do.”
Helmut Marko lands Lewis Hamilton title dig
Off the track there is a legal dispute bubbling away in Formula 1, that revolving around Felipe Massa’s challenge of his 2008 title defeat to Hamilton, one now shrouded in controversy following Bernie Ecclestone’s bombshell ‘Crashgate’ update.
It was in Singapore that year where this scandal took place, and as Massa now takes the matter to court, Marko could not help but take a dig at Hamilton.
“It was terrible to see Massa celebrating winning the title in Brazil for 20 seconds, and then suddenly it was all gone,” Marko told Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung.
“I would like him to win the title – and Mr. Hamilton – for whom records are not so important – would then have one less…”
Fernando Alonso denies Lewis Hamilton built Mercedes era
It was actually after that 2008 title success when Hamilton truly established himself as the dominant force of Formula 1, that coming when he won six World Championship titles with Mercedes between 2014-2020, including a streak of four in a row from 2017-2020.
However, his former McLaren team-mate Alonso has played down the role that Hamilton played in bringing the Mercedes era into existence.
“I think this is something that is always said about drivers ‘building’ teams,” he told The Telegraph, “but when Lewis went to Mercedes [in 2013], he didn’t ‘build’ anything. It was just a change in regulations [in 2014] that built everything for him.”