Max in P8 after first day in Singapore: 'Worse than expected'
Published on 15 September 2023 by Misha van der Kroon
After finishing the first free practice session in Singapore in third place, things were a bit more difficult for Max Verstappen in the second session, which he ended in eighth place. Carlos Sainz set the fastest time in his Ferrari, followed by teammate Charles Leclerc in P2. George Russell set the third time in his Mercedes. Fernando Alonso in his Aston Martin and Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes completed the top five of the second practice session at the Marina Bay Circuit. Max’ teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing Sergio Perez set the seventh fastest time.
“It was worse than expected today,” Max says after the second free practice session in Singapore. “We were struggling a lot with the balance of the car. We tried quite a few things in FP2, some worked, some didn’t. But we never really got the car together.”
He continues: “We have quite a few things to figure out tonight. There are a few things we don’t understand. Of course, we will try to improve it, it’s quite a big gap. Ferrari is very fast, and we were just worse than expected.”
It has become dark, and the artificial lights have been switched on when the second free practice sessions starts in Singapore. The conditions of this session are similar to the ones of qualifying and the race, making it the most important practice session of this weekend. We expect to see quite some qualifying simulations during this hour. The conditions: it’s 30 degrees and the track has a temperature of 37 degrees. No rain is expected during this session.
Logan Sargeant is the first on track when the lights go green, followed by a lot of other cars, most of them on the medium tyres. Both Alpine’s and Lando Norris in the McLaren are the only three cars going out on the hard compound. Within just a few minutes, all 20 drivers are out on track.
After a few fast laps, both Ferraris are at the top of the time sheets, followed by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in P3 and Max in P4. The times are rapidly being improved, but both Ferraris continue to lead the field in the first fifteen minutes of the session.
Lance Stroll slightly touches the wall with his Aston Martin in turn 13, but there are no consequences to his action. In the meantime, Max has his own problems. His RB19 is not yet to his liking, which is confirmed by quite some oversteer in turn thirteen. “I’m coming in,” he says over the radio and pits shortly after. He’s in P9 when he returns to the garage. Twenty minutes into the session it has become quiet again on track with everybody in the pits.
Williams announces that we probably will not see Alex Albon back on track today, due to some problems with the engine of his car. Several drivers now appear on track on the softest compound, ready for some qualifying simulations. Max however remains in the pits, giving his mechanics the opportunity to adjust the setup of the RB19.
The Ferraris improve their times once more, and Max returns to the track, with a fresh set of soft tyres on his Red Bull. During his fast lap, he falls short and ends up in P6 with a gap of more than seven-tenths to P1. Fortunately, it is only Friday, and the Red Bull team has a lot of work to do.
Teammate Sergio Perez has similar problems. The Mexican driver lacks confidence and informs his team about it: “It feels like I could crash in every braking zone, the rear breaks out a lot.” It seems like both Red Bull drivers are looking for better balance in the RB19. Perez does manage to get his car just ahead of Max’s, taking the seventh place in the standings.
In the final fifteen minutes of the session the majority of the teams have switched to race simulations. Max is on track as well, starting a long run on the medium compound. Moments later Perez follows his lead. No times are being improved in the final phase of the session, and with Max in P8 the first day in Singapore comes to an end.
|4||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:32.478||+0.358s||24|
|6||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:32.711||+0.591s||22|
|7||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:32.812||+0.692s||22|
|8||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:32.852||+0.732s||22|
|9||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:33.017||+0.897s||24|
|10||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.105||+0.985s||23|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:33.139||+1.019s||21|
|12||Liam Lawson||LAW||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:33.285||+1.165s||26|
|13||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:33.361||+1.241s||24|
|14||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:33.390||+1.270s||24|
|15||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:33.461||+1.341s||22|
|16||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:33.477||+1.357s||26|
|17||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.575||+1.455s||24|
|18||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:33.824||+1.704s||23|
|19||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:34.327||+2.207s||27|
|20||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:35.558||+3.438s||5|