In a season marked by Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s utter dominance. The Singapore Grand Prix brought an unexpected twist, leaving fans and experts alike in a state of shock and disbelief. Carlos Sainz of Ferrari emerged as the pole position holder at the Marina Bay circuit Securing his second consecutive pole. This achievement stood in stark contrast to Red Bull’s performance, as they grappled with a problematic car that lacked the balance and grip that had defined their success throughout the season.
Max Verstappen, who had been a formidable force, finished a disappointing 11th in qualifying. His teammate, Sergio Pérez, shared in the misery, spinning out and managing only 13th place. This marked a significant setback for Red Bull. It was the first time since the 2018 Russian Grand Prix that they failed to place a car in Q3. Their 14-race unbeaten streak hung in the balance, and it seemed likely to be broken in the upcoming race.
Verstappen had struggled throughout the weekend. He expressed frustration with his car’s balance and an unusual lack of rear grip, making it a handful to drive. His disappointment was evident as he criticized his car’s performance in qualifying, describing it as “shocking” and expressing his disbelief.
In a surprising turn of events, Verstappen was beaten out of the top 10 by Liam Lawson. A rookie standing in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri. This added insult to injury for the Dutch driver, who had won the previous ten races, setting a record. Red Bull had enjoyed an undefeated season, but both streaks now appeared to be ending in Singapore. Verstappen acknowledged that overtaking on this track would be difficult, making victory seem nearly impossible.
Red Bull’s Woes Continued
Verstappen was not only frustrated with his car’s performance but also baffled by the sudden drop in competitiveness. He admitted that the team was at a loss as to what had gone wrong, saying, “I knew it would be tough to put it on pole but this I did not expect.” The car had become “undriveable” due to changes made for qualifying.
Adding to Verstappen’s woes, he faced investigation after the session for three separate incidents of impeding but was cleared of one offence and reprimanded for the other two. While his starting position didn’t matter much to him. A grid penalty would have been a bitter conclusion to a disastrous day.
Red Bull had acknowledged that their dominant streak couldn’t last forever. But the manner in which it appeared to be ending quietly frustrated them. Nevertheless, a tight battle at the front between Sainz, George Russell, Lando Norris, and Charles Leclerc presented an exciting prospect for neutral fans.
Carlos Sainz had demonstrated great pace throughout the weekend and looked optimistic about his chances of winning. However, despite Verstappen’s struggles, the championship remained firmly in his grasp, with a 145-point lead over Pérez. If Verstappen could outscore Pérez by just nine points, he could clinch the title in the next round in Japan.
The rest of the qualifying results saw McLaren’s Norris in fourth. Lewis Hamilton in fifth for Mercedes, and Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg in sixth and ninth for Haas. The session had a red flag in the final moments when Lance Stroll crashed into a wall. This led to a substantial delay before Q2 could commence.
The Singapore Grand Prix had delivered a stunning upset. Carlos Sainz and Ferrari seized pole position while Max Verstappen and Red Bull faced unexpected struggles. The championship race took an intriguing turn, promising an exciting battle at the front.