Red Bull ‘worse than expected’ in Singapore practice

Max Verstappen was only eighth fastest in practice on a day that was 'worse than expected' in Singapore

Max Verstappen was only eighth fastest in practice on a day that was ‘worse than expected’ in Singapore. Image: XPB Images

Max Verstappen admitted that his pace during Friday practice for the Singapore Grand Prix was “worse than we expected” after two hours of running.

The world championship leader was third fastest in Free Practice 1, held in the late afternoon sun, at 0.126s away from the pace laid down by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

That drifted out to more than 0.7s in Free Practice 2, held under lights and more representative conditions, in a session topped by Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari.

Red Bull has dominated 2023, winning every one of the 14 races so far this season.

However, the Milton Keynes squad predicted that this weekend would pose a greater challenge than it has had in recent races.

“The Ferraris are very fast, but I think we’re just way worse than we expected,” said Verstappen after Friday practice in Singapore.

“We’re just struggling a lot with the balance of the car.

“We tried quite a few things in FP2; some worked, some didn’t. We never really got the car together so it’s quite a few things to figure out tonight.

Team-mate Sergio Perez proved the faster of the two Red Bull entries in Free Practice 2, though his 1:32.812s was less than a tenth better than Verstappen’s as he ended the day seventh.

“I think there are some interesting bits going on that we need to figure out overnight,” the Mexican reasoned.

“We seem to be struggling quite a bit with the rear end of the car, especially in FP2, so plenty of things to look at.

“Hopefully we can come up with the best possible set-up, because we know qualifying is very, very important.”

“We did expect the Ferraris to be very strong around here,” he continued.

“We’re just too far away, so hopefully tomorrow we’re able to close the gap a bit more, but I do expect quite a challenge.

“I think the main thing is to make sure we’re able to improve the balance – but at the moment, we’re far off.”

Verstappen too was far from confident when asked if he was capable of challenging for pole.

“I will try to, of course,” he said. “But it’s quite a big gap.”

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