Max Verstappen delivers near perfection every race weekend for Red Bull, thus no surprise he demands the same from his team as was witnessed on Saturday night after qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.
“Why? Why?” he screamed as he was told to pit instead of going for pole position. “What the f@ck what are you guys saying? Unbelievable, why? I don’t get it, mate. What the f@ck is this about?”
Verstappen fumed with the expletives beeped out on TV while his engineer calmly informed the Dutchman that it would be explained later, but the Dutch ace remained furious long after the fact.
Why? The team had erred in under fuelling the #1 Red Bull for that final shot at pole, a team that seldom makes mistakes and have played a huge role in his dominance this year; a team that helped him to 11 wins this season and a sure second F1 drivers’ title.
Consider that the night after the qualy ‘blunder’ his crew produced the fastest pitstop for the third consecutive race when Max was turned around in just 2.46 seconds.
Speaking to Sky F1 half a week since that race night, Red Bull boss Christian Horner accepts and understands Verstappen’s reaction: “He obviously blew a valve, but it’s completely understandable and I think we were pushing too much for the optimum, the track ramped up, we got an extra lap in so we were perfectly positioned… to be the last car effectively over the line.
The fuel was just too marginal, the lap had to be aborted
“Rather than take the risk of not being able to produce a sample and start from the pit lane, we took the tough decision to abort the lap about two corners before the pit lane, and it was right, right on the edge, and it was a question of: look, we just can’t afford to take this risk,” explained Horner.
Fittingly, at Honda-owned Suzuka Circuit, Verstappen could claim his second F1 crown and wrap up the 2022 F1 drivers title if he wins and sets the fastest lap on Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix; and there would still be four races to go.
It’s a big one for Red Bull, and Horner knows it: “We’ve got Austin, we’ve got Mexico, they’re all big races, but yeah it’s an important race. Japan, first time back there for three years, huge support for the team, and yeah, there’ll be a lot of excitement. And a great circuit, a real driver’s circuit, and we’re looking forward to Japan.”