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Red Bull endured a difficult day in Singapore and, perhaps for the first time in 2023, it is looking like its perfect run of victories is about to come to an end. After fourteen wins in fourteen races, the team struggled in the free practice sessions that took place today.
The day started okay for the reigning champions, as Max Verstappen was third in the first free practice session, which was held in daylight. The second one exposed their problems though, as neither car appeared to be very competitive on both the medium and the soft compound.
Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were only able to complete the second session with the seventh and eighth best times, both around seven tenths of a second away from Carlos Sainz, who topped the session for Ferrari. Both drivers complained about the balance of their cars, as the rear end looked unstable both under acceleration and under braking.
Surprisingly, Red Bull was missing time all over the track, as it was seventh quickest in the first sector of the lap, third in the second one and fifth in the final one. Its race pace was a bit more competitive, but still not up to its usual standard. And with qualifying critical at Singapore, a solution needs to be found for its one-lap pace.
Verstappen: “There’s just things that we don’t understand”
Max Verstappen has won the last ten Grands Prix, in an unprecedented run in Formula 1 history. As mentioned before though, things are not looking good at Singapore so far this weekend. After Free Practice 2, he spoke to media about his feeling in the car.
It was a little bit unexpected today, I was just struggling a lot with the balance of the car. We tried quite a few things in FP2, some worked, some didn’t.
Never really got the car together so there’s quite a few things to figure out tonight. There’s just things that we don’t understand. That’s what we have to look into.
Perez: “We are just too far away”
Sergio Perez spoke to Lawrence Barretto of F1TV after the session concluded and emphasised that the car was not competitive and setup changes will need to be made overnight:
I think there are some interesting bits going on, that we need to figure out overnight. We seem to be struggling quite a bit with the rear end of the car, especially in FP2, so plenty of things to look at. Hopefully we can come up with the best possible setup, because we know qualifying is very, very important here.
We did expect the Ferrari to be very strong around here. I mean, we are just too far away. Hopefully tomorrow we are able to close the gap a bit more. But I expect quite a challenge.
Last year, Perez won the race after passing Charles Leclerc at the start of the Grand Prix. Verstappen endured a difficult weekend, as he had to abandon his last Q3 effort because he had insufficient fuel onboard his car and qualified eighth. In the race, he finished seventh, despite an error that cost him plenty of time.
This remains one of the few races in the calendar where Verstappen has not won yet, as his best finish is second, which came back in 2018, and he has only led three laps in his six races at the venue.
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