SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen says his record run of Formula One victories will come to an end at Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix after he qualified 11th on the grid.
The two-time world champion is on a run of 10 straight victories stretching back to May’s Miami Grand Prix but will face his toughest challenge of the season when he lines up in Singapore.
With overtaking opportunities limited around the three-mile Marina Bay Street Circuit, Verstappen has already ruled out a victory on Sunday.
“Yeah, you can forget about that,” he told reporters in Singapore.
Verstappen said his main issue stemmed from the car‘s behaviour under braking.
“We made a few more changes [ahead of qualifying] which we thought the setup would allow, the car would allow,” he explained. “But then we got into qualifying, the first big problem I had was that I couldn’t brake late and hard, because I would bottom out and it would unload the front tires.
“On a street circuit, that is something that is very crucial, to be confident on the brakes and attack the corners. So I couldn’t do that, and besides, also just the low-speed corners, where I think we have been struggling the whole weekend, I just had no rear support.
“So I kept on having mini-slides, or in my final lap, a big one at Turn 3. When it’s like that, there is no lap time.”
Red Bull has won every race this year, but with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez qualifying 13th, that run also looks set to end. The main strength of the car this year has been its race performance over its qualifying pace, but even so, Verstappen believes his chances of fighting through the field are slim.
“I mean, in general, normally our car is a bit better on [tyre] degradation, maybe to some people around us, but I don’t think that matters a lot in Singapore where it’s very hard to pass,” Verstappen said. “You need to be one-and-a-half, two, three seconds faster, which we are not. Clearly also now with the car performance imbalance we have it will be a very tough, long afternoon.
“I still need to speak to the stewards, so I might not even be P11 anyway. At this stage, it doesn’t matter.”
Regardless of Sunday’s result, Verstappen is set to secure his third world title in the coming races and appeared calm about the poor performance.
“I knew that there was a day where you’re not winning anymore,” he added. “It’s also, we had a really good run anyway up until now.
“I would always take a season where we’re winning this much and having one really bad weekend over the other way around, where you’re not fighting for the championship and you’re winning here.
“I think it’s also important that we understand what we did wrong this weekend, because I’m confident that next week, we’ll go to Suzuka, and it will be fast again.
“It already felt like that also on the simulator, that this was a difficult setup window for the car. Then we went to Suzuka, and it just felt amazing again like the rest of the races.”