Max Verstappen has assured his rivals that he’ll be back on form in Suzuka next weekend after the reigning world champion was forced to settle for a P5 finish in Singapore.
The Dutch driver endured a miserable start to the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, struggling to get to grips with his Red Bull machinery throughout the three practice sessions.
These struggles carried over into qualifying. Verstappen was investigated for three separate incidents and eventually found himself eliminated before Q3 after Liam Lawson improved to secure his place in the shootout for pole position.
Starting the race from P11, Verstappen enjoyed a strong start on the opening lap, picking up a couple of positions before settling into a rhythm ahead of the Haas drivers.
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Logan Sargeant then made contact with the wall, bringing out an early safety car and setting Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez, who started on the hard-compound tyre, with no option but to stay out and hope for another.
The reigning constructor champions had no such luck and were relegated way down the order when they did eventually stop. Verstappen managed to fight back to record a P5 finish when the chequered flag waved, capitalising on George Russell’s last-lap heartbreak to climb another spot.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 about his afternoon, Verstappen said: “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.”
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The two-time world champion was then asked about his chances of bouncing back in Japan, as well as what that means for his rivals. He responded: “I think we will be quick in Suzuka. It’s not my problem, it’s their worries!”
Verstappen has good reason to be confident ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix. The 25-year-old closed out his second World Championship there last season with a sensational drive in the rain.
There will be less to celebrate for Checo heading into next weekend’s race. The Mexican was frustrated throughout the race and could only recover to P8, ending Alex Albon’s race in the process.
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