Max Verstappen started the Singapore Grand Prix in excellent fashion, ending FP1 in second place, behind 2021 rival Sir Lewis Hamilton, who topped his first session of the season.
The Dutchman ended the opening session at the first Singapore GP since 2019, just under a tenth behind the Mercedes driver, but did spin late on after locking-up.
The spin was completely harmless but did cost him a shot at topping the opening session of the weekend.
Early suggestions show that Mercedes are staggeringly the strongest on the Soft tyres; however, Verstappen and Sergio Pérez looked very good on the Medium compound which indicates their race pace should be very strong.
This is important for the 24-year-old, as he can wrap up the championship on Sunday at the Marina Bay Circuit.
If Verstappen wins his 12th race of the season and claims the fastest lap, then he will become a double World Champion if Charles Leclerc fails to finish in the top eight and if Pérez fails to finish in the top four.
Interestingly, Verstappen has never won at the Singapore venue, which pushes drivers to their absolute limits due to consistent high temperatures and humid conditions.
The circuit also offers zero rest time, with 23 corners crammed into 5.063km.
There had been rumours that Red Bull would bring a new chassis to the circuit this weekend; however, Verstappen revealed to Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz this wasn’t the case.
“Do you have a new chassis here this weekend?” asked Kravitz in the media pen.
“No,” answered the Dutchman.
“No we made a deal that if I would win in Monza then I would keep the same chassis so, I was like should I lift and be second [in Monza] or should I just win the race,” Verstappen joked.
“We were joking about that before the race but then I won it, so we keep it.”
The Red Bull driver’s victory at Monza was his fifth consecutive win of the year, putting him just four behind Sebastian Vettel’s and Alberto Ascari’s joint record of nine consecutive victories, something he could match at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen could also go one closer to another of Vettel’s records, which is for most victories in a single season.
The Dutch driver’s Italian glory puts him just two wins behind Vettel’s and Michael Schumacher’s joint record of 13 wins in a season, something he can match in Japan but eclipse at the United States Grand Prix.