Max Verstappen, the reigning Formula 1 world champion, has assured his rivals that he is poised to return to top form at the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka after a challenging weekend in Singapore where he finished in fifth place.
Verstappen’s determination to overcome adversity was evident as he spoke about his performance at the Marina Bay Circuit.
The Dutch driver faced a trying start to the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, encountering difficulties in getting to grips with his Red Bull machinery during the three practice sessions.
These issues persisted into qualifying, where Verstappen found himself under investigation for three separate incidents.
Ultimately, he was eliminated before Q3 after Liam Lawson secured his place in the shootout for pole position.
Starting the race from the eleventh position, Verstappen showcased his resilience by making a strong start on the opening lap, gaining several positions before settling into a rhythm ahead of the Haas drivers.
The race took an unexpected turn when Logan Sargeant made contact with the wall, prompting an early safety car period.
Verstappen and his teammate, Sergio Perez, who had started on hard-compound tires, had no choice but to remain on the track and hope for another opportunity.
However, luck did not favour the reigning constructor champions, as they plummeted down the order when they eventually made their pit stops.
Verstappen displayed his racing prowess as he fought his way back through the field, ultimately securing a fifth-place finish when the checkered flag waved. His climb up the ranks was further facilitated by George Russell’s last-lap misfortune.
Reflecting on his afternoon, Verstappen commented to Sky Sports F1, “We had some bad luck with the Safety Cars as well.
“The first one was at the wrong point, and also the second one came at the wrong point for us.
“So, a bit of a shame. I had fun in the second stint.
“We were quite quick on the medium compound.”
When asked about his prospects for the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix and what it means for his rivals, the two-time world champion exuded confidence, stating, “I think we will be quick in Suzuka.
“It’s not my problem, it’s their worries!”
Verstappen’s confidence is well-founded, given his impressive performance at Suzuka last season, where he clinched his second World Championship title with a remarkable drive in challenging wet conditions.
However, the upcoming race in Suzuka might hold fewer reasons to celebrate for Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez.
The Mexican driver endured a frustrating race in Singapore and could only manage to recover to eighth place, inadvertently ending Alex Albon’s race in the process.
With Verstappen’s failure to keep Red Bull’s win streak alive, he will now have to wait a little while longer before he can officially claim the Drivers’ title, as it’s no longer mathematically possible for him to take the crown in Japan.