Max Verstappen experienced a disappointing qualification for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday. The Dutchman had traveled to the Asian city of millions as one of the favorites for pole position, but had to settle for fourth starting position.
"You just have to start on the first row here, it will be difficult from fourth place", the visibly balancing Red Bull driver reacted after qualifying. Verstappen already noticed during the session that he was having trouble reducing his lap times.
"It is difficult to determine why that did not work. If I wanted to go faster through a bend, it would not be possible," he described the behavior of his car. "I felt the potential, but I couldn't get it out."
For Red Bull it was a disappointing performance on a circuit where the racing stable is generally good. Verstappen seized second place last year. "But also looking at the last race in Monza, where we were actually very competitive, then you come here and you expect that you will do well. But we just fell short."
Astonishment about speed at Ferrari
The big surprise of the weekend is Ferrari, who arrived in Singapore with a much improved car. Contrary to expectations, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were able to participate in the battle for the first starting place. The speed of the Italian team also surprised Verstappen
"They have it well done. You could already see on their onboard images that it looked fast," said the Limburger. "And we just did something wrong. We did not develop well compared to what they did. A gap of six tenths is definitely too big."
See also: Leclerc and Vettel surprised by speed greatly improved Ferrari
Safetycar can also work against Verstappen
Verstappen was not too optimistic about his chances in the race. The longer lap series on the harder tires were also slower than Mercedes in particular. He hopes for a bit of chaos at the start, such as in 2017. Then he crashed together with Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
"I just don't want me to be in it now," he smiled. "But we depend on what happens for us anyway." Whether a Safetycar can help Verstappen is also a question, he thought. "One time that works to your advantage, but the other time to your disadvantage. So that is waiting."
"Need to fix this for next race in Russia"
For Red Bull it is particularly important that this disappointing result does not have any influence on the remaining matches in 2019. Normally, Verstappen always performs strongly in the final phase of the season.
"I don't know if this lack of speed says anything for the coming games, but we have to see how we can fix this for Russia as soon as possible," he looked ahead to the sixteenth Grand Prix of the season.
The Grand Prix of Singapore starts on Sunday at 2.10 p.m. Lewis Hamilton takes the lead in the World Cup with 284 points. Valtteri Bottas is second with 221 points, followed by Verstappen (185), Leclerc (182) and Vettel (169).
See also: Verstappen fourth in qualifying GP Singapore, again pole for Leclerc