Verstappen rues “worst-case scenario” Safety Car after lowest finish of 2023

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Max Verstappen says his Singapore Grand Prix was heavily compromised by the timing of a mid-race Safety Car period.

The championship leader saw his run of 10 consecutive victories this season come to an end after he finished fifth in today’s race.

Verstappen started 11th and was running in eighth place before the Safety Car was deployed for debris on the circuit after Logan Sargeant hit the wall at turn eight and left debris on the track.

The Safety Car deployment allowed the majority of the field to pit for hard tyres. Verstappen and Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez remained on the hard tyres they had started the race on. Verstappen later pitted for medium rubber on lap 40 and rejoined in 15th, climbing 10 places to finish fifth.

“I think everything went against us in the race with the Safety Car,” Verstappen told media including RaceFans after the race.

“It was possibly the worst-case scenario because I really think that if the Safety Cars would have worked out a little bit more in our favour, I would actually be fighting with the guys [ahead] because I think that last stint was quite decent.”

After Red Bull’s worst combined qualifying result of the season, Verstappen says he was happier with the performance of the RB19 in the race compared to qualifying.

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“It’s of course not what we wanted, but I think today was a little bit better,” he said. But still, we were unlucky during the race with all the Safety Cars going against us.

“Clearly we learnt quite a bit from today and maybe what we did wrong yesterday. I cannot go into details – the problem is we can only show next year, when we come back, if it’s better or not.”

The car’s limitations from qualifying were “still there a bit but to a lesser extent” in the race, said Verstappen. “Normally also our car is always better in the race and I think you could see that again today in the race, especially on the medium at the end I think we had good pace. I was managing, of course, my tyres in that last stint to have good tyres to the end, but I was quite happy.”

The race ended Verstappen’s record 10-race winning streak and Red Bull’s 16 race winning streak dating back to last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Verstappen said he was not disappointed to see his streak finally come to an end.

“I knew that this day would come, so for me it’s absolutely fine,” he said.

Although Verstappen and Red Bull continue to enjoy an almost unassailable lead, the world championship leader believes it will be difficult for Red Bull to win regularly over the final part of the season.

“Everything needs to be perfect [to keep winning],” he said.

“Everyone is always saying, ‘oh, look at how dominant they are, look how easy it is’ but it’s not easy. It’s a lot of details that you always need to get right, and clearly this weekend we didn’t get a few things right and then you’re on the backfoot and you don’t win.”

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2023 Singapore Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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16 comments on “Verstappen rues “worst-case scenario” Safety Car after lowest finish of 2023”

  1. @LandoNorris on @Max33Verstappen’s struggles this weekend: “When I watched his onboard yesterday I kind of laughed because I’ve never seen a car that bad before. Max also laughed about it.

    Says it all. The greatest driver in F1 history and today he proved it once again, finishing P5, only 0.3s behind Leclerc in the same Ferrari which won the race. Unreal result by unreal driver.

    1. He did a better job than Russel. 😆

    2. you just wont stop with the stupid takes will you

      1. How is that a stupid take? His team got the strategy wrong, the car handled terribly all weekend and he still ends up P5

        1. There was nothing wrong with the strategy. It got the slower tyre out the way early and gave the team a better chance for position gains in second stint.

          The car handled terribly in qualifying trim but it was a solid race car. A good drive by Max but it wasn’t unreal.

          1. The strategy was good on paper, but it was ruined by the SC. All of the other top teams pit stops were done under SC or VSC.

    3. There’s a clear problem with this comment: leclerc was sacrificed and was on a strategy to help sainz win, example the fact he started on soft tyres, which not even the mercedes used for their charge to the end.

      Verstappen’s race and weekend was surely decent, good maybe, considering the car problems, but not unreal.

    4. I find Max’s drive today a bit underappreciated, because I reckon he did a very solid race. Not a stonking one like Carlos’, mind you, but going from P11 to P5 in Singapore where it is really hard to overtake, with terribly timed SCs (for a gamblng strategy that came out wrong) and a car that handled a lot worse than in any other circuit, is no mean feat.
      Ok, it may be said that P5 instead of P6 was a courtesy from GR’s late crash, but it is also true that Charles Leclerc was saved by the bell (flag), one more turn and Max would have finished ahead.
      Scoring only for today, not for the whole weekend as usual, I’d give Max a 7 for a drive about as good as Lando’s (another 7) and arguably second best, but Carlos earns a 9.
      And yes, of course Max did better than Charles today, but anyway Charles by hampered by Fezza’s strategy, today it was his lot to play wingman for Carlos (with limites success).

      1. @melanos
        I think Verstappen would have gotten Leclerc, if it wasn’t for the crash, and the yellow flags… his charge was stopped for 2 turns and a straight
        he missed the DRS between turns 13 and 14, and therefore was too far away to overtake for turn 16, I estimate Verstappen would’ve been 5th regardless of what Russel did

  2. Would’ve loved to see how the race would have turned out if the VSC had come out 2 laps earlier and RB would’ve been able to pit Verstappen. Think it would’ve been incredibly tense in the final stages of the race with potentially the whole top-5 within a shout for victory. Nonetheless this was an amazing race, a thrilling finale with a brilliant winner and like Max says, he can’t be too disappointed with 5th considering the circumstances

    1. Indeed, and not sure if he might’ve got past anyone or if he’d have been stuck in the drs train as well.

  3. I think that early full safety car was unnecessary. There was only a small bit of debris next to the barrier that could have been cleared under a VSC.

    That sort of quick clean up is basically what the VSC was designed to cover and something the VSC has been used for many times; Including at this track.

    The VSC usage for Ocon’s car was a great use of it.

    1. Yes, considering the circumstances I would’ve expected them to be swapped around, VSC for the debris and SC for a can stopped just outside the track, but they could’ve used the VSC both times indeed.

    2. Considering there was still debris on the track after the SC, it seemed both unnecessary and incorrectly used.

    3. I think the SC was used as there was a lot more debris around the track after Sargeant kept driving at speed.

  4. Yeah, Max did drive a very solid race with the car he had. And yeah, that first SC really was a get out of jail free card for all the medium runners (and certainly for Leclerc). I think that how Ferrari managed their pace, and managed to get Leclerc to build an extra large gap between the incident (it was little over 3 seconds at that time) and when they pitted (11+ seconds) was key since it meant Sainz stayed ahead and could again pace the field behind, while the Red Bulls did not get the chance to run in clean air with their hards (who also seemed to struggle getting back up to temp after the SC).

    With the second chance, it happened 2-3 laps too late to profit, otherwise both Red Bulls would have had a chance to get into the top 5, especially since it would have changed the calculation for the Mercedes guys too.

    Overall, a podium might have been on the cards for them, but not with how the race played out.

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