Max only eleventh in Singapore qualifying: 'More difficult than we expected'
Published on 16 September 2023 by Florence Cobben
The qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix went disastrously for Oracle Red Bull Racing, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez only in eleventh and thirteenth positions. The team wrestled all weekend with the RB19 on the Marina Bay street circuit, where Carlos Sainz set his Ferrari on pole, just before George Russell (Mercedes) and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari).
“It’s been a tough weekend so far, and qualifying was more difficult than we expected. We had changed a couple of things on the car, but that made things worse than in FP3”, Max explained after qualifying. “We don’t have any grip and the car is difficult to steer and to brake. Then you lose trust in the car and don’t push it to the limit. You can’t have that on a street circuit.” Max is also self-critical: “We made some mistakes as a team. During FP3 and qualifying we set up the car differently, and now we’re paying the price for it.” Max predicts that “It’s going to be tough, because overtaking is tricky on this track.”
In qualifying, after the grid had all set their first times, everyone rushes to set a second time, because the track kept getting faster. Seconds after Yuki Tsunoda, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Liam Lawson and Kevin Magnussen landed in the top five, the red flag is waved, ending Q1, after Lance Stroll had an enormous crash. The Canadian lost control over his Aston Martin in the last turn of the track, and went flying into the guardrail. Stroll stepped out of the car uninjured, but his car was retired from the session. The remaining four that did not make it to Q2 are Valtteri Bottas, Oscar Piastri, Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu. Max went through in ninth position.
After half an hour the track was cleared and the barriers repaired, and Q2 got underway. Again the drivers get two runs, but both Red Bull drivers are clearly struggling with the car, that seems to have no grip. Max does not manage to improve on his time, and Perez crashes, leaving the duo in eleventh and thirteenth place. Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon and Yuki Tsunoda are also out.
After the first rounds in Q3, both Ferraris are at the top of the timesheets, with Sainz ahead of Leclerc. Lando Norris (McLaren) and George Russell (Mercedes) follow. In the decisive final run, everyone rushes to set the fastest time, but ultimately Sainz seizes pole position. The gap to Russell and Leclerc is staggering small: just a seven-hundredth.
|4||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:32.483||1:31.951||1:31.270|
|6||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:32.242||1:31.892||1:31.575|
|7||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:32.584||1:31.835||1:31.615|
|8||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:32.369||1:32.089||1:31.673|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:32.100||1:31.994||1:31.808|
|10||Liam Lawson||LAW||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:32.215||1:32.166||1:32.268|
|11||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:32.398||1:32.173|
|12||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:32.452||1:32.274|
|13||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:32.099||1:32.310|
|14||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:32.668||1:33.719|
|15||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:31.991|
|16||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:32.809|
|17||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:32.902|
|18||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:33.252|
|19||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:33.258|
|20||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:33.397|