George Russell perplexed by Red Bull

Max Verstappen's winning streak is in jeopardy after he crashed out of qualifying in P11 around the tricky Marina Bay circuit.

Red Bull Racing finds itself struggling at the Singapore Grand Prix, putting their dominant streak at risk.

After securing a record-breaking run of ten consecutive victories, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez failed to even reach ‘Q3’ in Singapore, marking the team’s worst performance in five years. 

Mercedes driver George Russell, sandwiched between Ferraris on the grid, remarked, “It’s definitely strange that they’ve been off the pace this weekend. Unusual.”

Verstappen had anticipated reduced competitiveness on the floodlit streets of Singapore, recalling his disappointing performance at the same circuit in 2022. 

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However, the extent of Red Bull’s slump in Singapore has left the team bewildered. Verstappen emphasised the importance of understanding the reasons behind their poor performance, stating, “For me, it is much more important that we understand why things went so badly.”

Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s technical guru, echoed Verstappen’s sentiment, saying, “We now have to find out what happened.” 

What makes the situation even more perplexing is that the 2023 Red Bull car is grappling with a myriad of issues, including poor handling, grip, and unexpected technical glitches.

Verstappen reported problems shifting gears and described a “shocking experience” due to a bottoming floor, while Perez revealed unusual behavior in the Honda engine, causing power surges that made the car difficult to control. 

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Perez stated, “We don’t understand what is going on. 

“There are a lot of things going on, and we have some suspicions, but we need to figure it all out and make sure we understand it properly.”

Some have speculated that Red Bull’s struggles are a result of the FIA’s clampdown on flexible wings and floors. 

However, Dr. Helmut Marko denied any connection between their issues and the FIA’s technical directive. 

He claimed that the modified floor had been in development for a while and was not a reaction to the directive.

One theory suggests that Red Bull may have been caught off guard by the smoother asphalt and altered track layout in Singapore. 

Marko admitted, “It wasn’t taken into account that the newly asphalted areas are much smoother than they used to be.” 

This oversight, combined with their technical reliance, may have played a role in their poor performance. 

He acknowledged, “There was a fundamental mistake.”

Interestingly, Red Bull’s competitors do not believe that the FIA clampdown is the primary reason for their struggles. 

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff acknowledged that teams had to adapt to the directives to varying degrees, making it challenging to pinpoint their real impact. 

McLaren boss Andrea Stella concurred, stating, “I don’t know whether Red Bull is affected by this at all, and if they are, the effect would not explain such a big gap.”

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Verstappen, who maintains a substantial 194-point lead in the drivers’ championship over the nearest non-Red Bull competitor, addressed the speculation about the clampdown’s impact, saying, “Let’s see next week at Suzuka. 

“This is a street track, and we tried to find a compromise, but we clearly did something wrong.”

Marko acknowledged that their remarkable ten-race winning streak was bound to end eventually but expressed surprise at the severity of their performance dip in Singapore, stating, “It had to happen at some point, but the fact that it hit us so badly here is difficult to understand.”