Anthony Davidson said races earlier in the 2023 season had hinted that Red Bull might struggle in Singapore, as was borne out…
The first race of 2023 that Red Bull failed to win was last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, with the RB19 looking like a midfield machine rather than the all-conquering monster it had been for the first two-thirds of the season.
With Christian Horner refuting that the newly-introduced TD018 had had any effect on the car’s competitiveness, the team boss suggested that Red Bull had simply not been able to get their car into the correct operating window that would allow them to exploit their usual pace.
Anthony Davidson: There were warning signs for Red Bull earlier in the year
With Singapore’s Marina Bay singled out by Red Bull as a potential stumbling block to their quest to win every race in 2023, the weekend indeed proved to be their undoing as Max Verstappen raced to fifth place from his 11th-place grid slot, while Sergio Perez managed eighth from 13th.
The low-to-medium speed nature of the circuit, combined with incredible heat and humidity, aggressive kerbs, and its claustrophobic streets, were all ingredients that combined to topple Red Bull’s run, and Sky F1 pundit Anthony Davidson said there had been indications earlier in the season that the RB19 was outside its comfort zone in such scenarios.
“It wasn’t so much of an outlier,” he said of Singapore.
“If you look at tracks like Monaco where, at that point in the championship, arguably their car was even more dominant and they were oh so close to getting pipped by Fernando Alonso there.
“It almost happened to them there in Monaco. In Montreal, by their standards again, another circuit where there are long straights and tight corners, it wasn’t fantastic.
“So you know, there have been those warning signs from Red Bull that we should have picked up on earlier perhaps, knowing that Singapore might have been an Achilles’ heel for them.
“Sure enough, it was. Their car is so good at preserving the tyres, that’s its real strength and it’s so good around high-speed corners. That’s what we’ve got here!”
Max Verstappen: Singapore aside, the RB19 has been really good
Coming into the Japanese GP weekend, a track that Verstappen had no concerns about Red Bull’s competitiveness, the Dutch driver reflected on his year so far with the RB19.
“Forgetting Singapore, it’s been really good, really nice, quite predictable and all-round. That’s something that’s always very important to have in Formula 1,” he said.
Prior to Singapore, Verstappen had won 10 races in a row to set a new F1 record for consecutive wins. The last race at which he had been beaten was the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at Baku, a race weekend he views as pivotal to understanding the car and triggering his unprecedented run of dominance. But what clicked for him that weekend?
“It’s just little details,” he said.
“I mean, it’s not something completely different, but it’s just fine-tuning a lot of things together, which then gives you a better balance, and more confidence to attack corners.
“That’s why you know, you have races sometimes where you learn a little bit more than others and I definitely think that Baku was, for me, this was a good race where I learned a lot.”