David Croft makes Max Verstappen claim

Red Bull appear to have been adversely affected by the FIA's latest technical directive.

Following a lacklustre Friday at the Singapore Grand Prix, Sky F1 commentator David Croft has raised concerns that “fear” might be permeating the Red Bull Racing team as they strive to maintain their unbeaten record.

Leading up to the race weekend, Max Verstappen, the runaway Championship leader, had foreseen that Singapore might not be their strongest battleground in the 2023 Formula 1 season. 

Friday’s practice sessions seemed to validate his prediction.

While FP1 showed relative promise with Verstappen trailing session-leader Charles Leclerc of Ferrari by just over a tenth of a second, Red Bull found themselves seven-tenths adrift of the Scuderia by the conclusion of FP2, with Carlos Sainz securing the top spot, contributing to another one-two finish for Ferrari.

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During FP2, Sergio Perez made a concerning declaration, expressing his fear of potentially crashing the Red Bull RB19 in every braking zone due to rear-end instability. 

Verstappen echoed Perez’s sentiments after the session, stating that Red Bull’s performance on the opening day of action was “much worse than expected.”

Rather than these issues being within expectations, given Red Bull’s prior attempts to downplay their pace for the Singapore race, Croft speculates that the team’s negative tone following Friday’s practice sessions may signify “fear” regarding the continuation of their unbeaten streak.

Red Bull is pursuing an unprecedented achievement in Formula 1, aiming to win every Grand Prix in a season. 

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They have already secured all 14 F1 victories in 2023 and are on a 15-race unbeaten streak overall.

Croft commented, “Antonio Giovinazzi has led more laps around Singapore than Max Verstappen has. 

“I think he’s led three, Giovinazzi led four. 

“It’s not just a while ago that they identified this as a bit of a weakness, but you know what it’s like—the more you achieve success, the more the fear creeps in that the streak might eventually come to an end. 

“And there might be a bit of that at Red Bull at the moment.”

He continued, “I mean, look, they could fail to finish the next five races and still secure the championships. 

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“I don’t think that’ll be a problem, but there is that fear that ‘we’ve done so well, but maybe a couple of times, we’ve been fortunate?’ Monza had temperature issues for Max Verstappen. 

In the first race of the season, there were temperature issues that the team had to manage. With so many variables on a Formula 1 car, nothing can ever be taken for granted.”

Red Bull Racing could clinch the 2023 Constructors’ Championship in Singapore if they secure maximum points and Mercedes fails to score.