Max Verstappen was worried about Red Bull’s chances of fighting for pole position on Saturday after the first two practice sessions ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, claiming that the team were ‘way worse’ than their rivals on Friday.
The Dutchman ended FP2 in P8, behind his team-mate Sergio Perez and way off the pace of the two Ferrari drivers who are threatening to make it back-to-back pole positions for the Scuderia following Carlos Sainz’s triumph in qualifying at Monza.
Red Bull are no stranger to prioritising race pace to qualifying trim but with such a substantial gap between themselves and both Ferrari and Mercedes after two sessions, their struggles will no doubt be of concern to Verstappen and Checo.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after FP2, Verstappen said: “It was a bit unexpected today. Yeah, just struggling a lot with the balance of the car. We tried quite a few things in FP2… some worked, some didn’t.
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“I never really got the car together, so it’s quite a few things to figure out tonight basically.” When asked if this was one of the more difficult Fridays of the season, he responded: “Yeah, well [there are] just a few things we don’t understand, so that’s what we have to look into.”
The Dutchman was then asked about the possibility of beating Ferrari and Mercedes to pole position on Saturday, to which he replied: “We’ll try to of course improve, but it’s quite a big gap. Ferrari is very fast, I think we’re just way worse than we expected.”
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While Red Bull struggled to give their drivers a stable car underneath them for FP1 and FP2, Ferrari secured one-two finishes in both sessions. The Scuderia were the talk of the paddock on Friday, but Charles Leclerc did not expect such convincing pace heading into the weekend.
Speaking ahead of FP1, Leclerc said: “It’s nice to read that [Red Bull are worried about Ferrari], but I’m not buying it at all. I mean I really think that they will be the strongest this weekend, especially come race day.
“In quali it may be close, but maybe not, I mean we don’t know. I think on a high downforce track like here, I expect us to struggle more than Monza, so I don’t think they will have any threat, I think they will be the fastest on track.”
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