Championship leader Max Verstappen has ruled out extending his record-breaking run of consecutive race wins in Singapore after he failed to reach Q3 in qualifying.
The Red Bull driver was eliminated from Q2 along with team mate Sergio Perez after the pair struggled with the handling of their RB19s all throughout practice. Verstappen qualified down 11th, his worst starting position since the second round of the year in Saudi Arabia where he suffered a driveshaft failure. The world champion is currently on a record 10-race winning streak but told media including RaceFans that “you can forget about” him winning an 11th straight grand prix on Sunday.
“I want to win, but when it’s not possible you have to accept that,” Verstappen said. “I don’t want to make it sound too dramatic, but it was of course a very tough weekend and today in qualifying it’s definitely been for a long, long time that in qualifying it has been like this.
“Clearly we just don’t understand that issue. Otherwise you don’t make these kind of changes and it’s worse. So we are clearly not understanding the car this weekend around this track.”
Verstappen and Perez had both struggled with the handling of their RB19s throughout the three practice sessions prior to qualifying. Red Bull made various set-up changes in an effort to improve the balance of the car, but Verstappen says his troubles continued into qualifying.
“FP3 was better, we made some good progress,” he explained. “It was still not where we wanted to be, but it was looking like something.
“But then we made a few more changes which we thought the set-up would allow but then we got into qualifying and the first big problem I had was that I couldn’t brake late and hard because I would bottom out and would unload the front tyres. On a street circuit that is something which is very crucial, to be confident on the brakes and attack the corners so I couldn’t do that.
“Besides that, also just the low-speed corners where I think we have been struggling already the whole weekend, I just had no rear support. So I just kept on like having mini slides or in my final lap, a big one at turn three. When it’s like that there is no lap time.”
Adding to his problems, Verstappen faces three investigations by the stewards for separate incidents during qualifying. The first was for impeding the Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton by stopping at the end of the pit lane at the end of Q1. He picked up the second shortly afterwards when he was one of several drivers who slowed at turns 16 and 17, and appeared to get in Logan Sargeant’s way. In Q2 he attracted the attention of the stewards again by potentially impeding Yuki Tsunoda.
Verstappen insisted stopping at the end of the pit lane at the end of Q1 to build a gap to cars ahead was a normal part of qualifying. “It’s something that we do when the pit lane goes green,” he said.
“The first one normally takes off then the second always waits a bit, takes off then the other guy waits for that guy to have a bit of a gap. And when I started to roll and I saw that there were a lot of cars being so close, I knew what was going to happen in the last chicane, so I was like ‘alright, just stop, wait a bit, just to create less drama.’ Then clearly people behind me were complaining. I just thought that that would be a safer option than all being together.”
He admitted that he had been caught out by Tsunoda approaching him at turn four early in Q2 which led to the AlphaTauri driver abandoning his lap.
“Yeah, that was not good,” he admitted. “I didn’t see him because I was on the radio talking about what was the problem, and then I didn’t get a call until he was basically behind me. Basically sums up my qualifying, it was just super-hectic and messy.”
Verstappen has won many races from the midfield over the last two seasons but he does not expect he will be able to do the same in Singapore.
“You can’t pass,” he said. “On other tracks you can start last, probably in Spa you can start last and win the race, but not here. Here you need to be two, three seconds faster to have a chance to pass. So, that’s just street circuit stuff.”