Last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix was perhaps Max Verstappen’s messiest race of the season, after what was a weekend full of near-misses and driver errors.
In all fairness, though, none of which would’ve likely happened if Red Bull hadn’t made a costly error during qualifying last Saturday.
In the final sector of the Marina Bay Circuit during Q3, Verstappen was told to abort his lap and enter the pits.
Whilst he did follow the team’s command, it’s safe to say he didn’t take the radio message well.
“Why? What the f*** are you guys saying? I don’t get it,” explicitly shouted the championship leader.
It was revealed after the session that the team didn’t put enough fuel into the Dutchman’s RB18, which would’ve seen him be unable to provide a necessary fuel sample.
Had he failed to provide a sample, then he would’ve been made to start from the pit-lane following a disqualification from qualifying.
As a result of aborting his final lap, the 25-year-old started P8 for the race; however, he found himself in P12 after a challenging opening lap.
Verstappen quickly battled his way through to sixth during the wet Singapore night, but found Lando Norris to be an annoying stumbling block.
He tried everything to get past the McLaren driver, but instead nearly drove into the back of him following a Virtual Safety Car restart and then locked-up at Turn Seven and went off the circuit.
In the end, seventh was the best Verstappen could manage, meaning he failed to become a double World Champion at the first opportunity.
Ahead of this weekend’s returning Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen remained frustrated about the shocking blunder, telling his team to “just pay attention”.
“It’s not rocket science,” said Verstappen during the Japanese GP press conference.
“I mean, just pay attention to the fuel level. So there is not much to really change.
“When you fuel the car for five laps you can do five laps – you’re not going to be able to do six laps. You can talk about it for hours but it’s not going to suddenly change anything.
“But it’s not only that. We had a very poor Friday in terms of amount of laps so also there, I think a few things went wrong because when we made changes to the car we couldn’t really test, of course, because it was wet.
“Carried that on into the race. So just a very messy weekend and I think that was just a prime example of how you don’t want a weekend to go. So you learn from that.”
Due to still boasting a 104-point lead, Verstappen gets his second chance to wrap up the title this weekend at Suzuka, in what looks set to be another extremely wet Grand Prix.
To claim the title at the home of Honda, Verstappen needs to outscore Charles Leclerc by six points and Singapore GP winner Sergio Pérez by eight.
The weekend started fairly well for the Dutch driver, who ended FP1 in P6 and FP2 in P3, in what were two sessions so treacherous that the Wet tyres were used.
On Verstappen’s side of the garage, Singapore was possibly their worst overall performance of the weekend; however, he doesn’t think anything “needs to change”.
“There’s nothing like it suddenly needs to change in the team,” said Verstappen, who made his debut at Suzuka during FP1 in 2014 for Toro Rosso.
“We all know it was a bad weekend but we also have shown this year we’ve had a lot of very good weekends, so we know how to do it.”