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Verstappen’s Astonishing Setback in Singapore Grand Prix: A Revealing Insight

An in-depth analysis and retelling of Max Verstappen's unexpected underperformance in the Singapore Grand Prix. The narrative explores the issues faced by the young driver and the incidents during qualifying, contributing to his disappointing 11th place finish.

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Russell Weaver
Russell Weaver
Russell Weaver is a renowned writer, celebrated for his vibrant storytelling and intricate world-building. Beyond being an writer, he's an artist, dedicated to crafting stories that captivate, transform, and linger.
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Holding my typical spot to observe the concluding laps of a Formula One qualifying session, I found an unusual contender having trouble finishing: Max Verstappen.

This young driver had not faced any troubles reaching Q3 since his performance at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, an incident resulting from a driveshaft failure during qualifying. Despite the setback, Verstappen displayed incredible resilience, fighting his way from the back to take the second spot in the race, tailgating his teammate, Sergio Pérez.

However, the Singapore race distinctly set a different scene. Verstappen, who had dominated the race track with 10 back-to-back victories, failed to reach the final qualifying stage, not due to unavoidable circumstances but merely because he was too slow. In terms of raw speed, he hovered at the 11th position on the grid, two positions in front of Pérez, who also bowed out after spinning on his final lap in Q2.

With Verstappen simply spectating while savouring a can of Red Bull, Carlos Sainz claimed the pole for Ferrari, followed by Mercedes’ George Russell, fueling a sense of wistfulness for Verstappen.

Verstappen, gazing at the track and realizing his winning streak and Red Bull’s flawless season were nearing their end, surrendered himself to the reality. His previous comebacks from setbacks—even from ninth in Miami and sixth in Belgium—were a far cry from actualizing a win from this position in Singapore.

Stripping Down Verstappen’s Qualifying Debacle

Throughout the journey to Singapore, Verstappen consistently underplayed Red Bull’s prospects. He raised words of caution about the next race after his record-breaking 10th victory at Monza. However, the dominance of his vehicle did ignite hopes of him being in contention for victory, albeit by a thin margin.

A sneak peek into Verstappen’s struggles came to light during the practice sessions in Singapore. Verstappen declared that Friday’s practice was arguably his most challenging this season, highlighting a lack of stability at his car’s rear-end that significantly destabilized his performance. The issue prompted Red Bull to scramble for quick fixes within a narrow duration of two-and-a-half hours before qualifying.

Ironically, instead of leading Verstappen into pole contention, revisions worsened the conditions. Though Verstappen comfortably qualified for Q1 securing ninth place, Q2 unfolded severe difficulties. His position was already fragile after the initial runs in P10, and after a dismal final run mostly due to a slide at Turn 3, he was bumped down to 11th by AlphaTauri’s Liam Lawson—even losing the qualifying.

“I’m not sure if you saw that, but it was outrageously poor,” Verstappen conveyed to his engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, expressing ‘an utterly shocking ordeal.’

Verstappen Grapples with the Stewards

Lack of pace was not the sole concern Verstappen confronted through the qualifying session. After his media obligations, Verstappen found himself juggling three separate incidents resulting in two reprimands with the stewards, narrowly escaping a grid penalty that could have pushed him even further behind.

His first action was during Q1, where he was seen lingering in the pit lane, causing a delay for the cars behind. This move sparked irritation among other drivers, leading to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc venting his frustration over the radio. His second violation occurred when a blockage happened at the end of the lap leading to another investigation against Verstappen.

Regrettably though, despite Verstappen’s seemingly deliberate attempts to avoid any blockages, this situation unfurled, leading to another investigation. In this incident, Williams’ Logan Sargeant alleged that Verstappen had hindered his exit from the final chicane. To this, the stewards decided not to impose any further penalties.

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