Red Bull Singapore struggles remain a mystery
By Mat Coch
Friday 22nd September, 2023 - 11:37am
Exactly why Red Bull failed to fire at last weekend’s Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix remains a mystery to the otherwise all-conquering outfit.
For the first time in 2023, neither Max Verstappen nor Sergio Perez won the race, with the former best placed in fifth.
It was a weekend in which the team had already expected to struggle, though conceded at the time that its woes were greater than anticipated.
A week on, there is still no clear explanation with both drivers suggesting the issue was set-up, but with little more in the way of detail.
Further, Verstappen suggested that it’s not something the team can easily remedy in the simulator, meaning unless the team is able to understand it from the data it has – or somehow engineer it out of the car next year – there’s a chance it could reappear in 2024.
“Even if we would have had the perfect setup, I think it would have still been a harder weekend for us,” the runaway championship leader explained.
“Clearly, we didn’t get this set up right.
“We have a lot of ideas, but we can’t really show that until next year,” he added of what was wrong with the car.
“That is, of course, a little bit in a way annoying, but also, in another way, it gives us a bit of time to fully understand everything.”
Singapore is widely accepted as something of an outlier of a venue, with nothing else like it on the current calendar in much the same way Monaco is unique.
There is little in the way of high speed, while the apexes are sort, and similar.
On paper, it’s a simple circuit, with corners that are almost a copy and paste of one another, but in reality, the heat, bumps, and nuances of driving quickly around Marina Bay make it a difficult venue to engineer for.
“I think on our street circuits, we have been okay, not super dominant, but okay, Verstappen reasoned.
“But it’s just something that we know is not our strongest point.
“You know where you normally have your strong weekends, and at the end of the day, most of the tracks are not like Singapore, and that’s where you need to be strong.
“Probably Singapore is a bit of an outlier and then also not nailing it I think, in terms of just setting up the car, made it even worse.
“So no real big science or whatever, because you constantly tried to improve the car itself.
“Sometimes you cannot improve everything at the same rate.”
The Red Bull RB19 has been the class of the field, a car described by the team as not being especially brilliant one any particular area, but being very strong in all of them.
That all-rounder quality had served the team well, winning the opening 14 races of the year prior to Singapore.
In Japan this weekend, however, normal service is set to resume.
The fast, sweeping Suzuka circuit, one loved by the drivers, plays to areas the RB19 has proven itself to be excellent.
It enjoys excellent highspeed handling but concedes little of that for efficiency down the straights – while its DRS is especially efficient.
The consensus is that Red Bull will therefore once again be the team to beat, with McLaren the dark horse many are looking at to run second.