Max Verstappen believes he will be back on top at the Japanese Grand Prix following Red Bull’s off-colour showing in Singapore.
Red Bull have ruled the Formula One roost all year – with 14 victories from 14 prior to Sunday’s round in the city state, while Verstappen had been unbeaten in his last 10 appearances, setting a new record of consecutive wins along the way.
But the Dutch driver and Red Bull finally met their match at the unique, low-speed, high-downforce Marina Bay Circuit.
Verstappen qualified 11th before driving back to fifth, taking the chequered flag 21 seconds behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz – the Spaniard becoming the first non-Red Bull winner of the year.
A tough weekend in Singapore, but a solid recovery during the race today @redbullracing 👊
Onto Suzuka 🇯🇵👋 pic.twitter.com/G9gnHyZXAi
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 17, 2023
However, Verstappen, victorious at 12 of the 15 rounds so far, expects the fast-flowing Suzkua track will see him return to winning ways.
“Yes, that is the target,” he said. “This track is so different to Suzuka and it doesn’t relate.
“We have learned a bit from today, and have a few ideas with what we got wrong yesterday. I cannot go into details but I feel good about Suzuka.”
Verstappen finished three places ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez to extend his championship lead from 145 points to 151.
Verstappen can no longer secure his third world title at next weekend’s race in Japan, with the Qatar Grand Prix on October 8 a possible destination for his coronation.
Red Bull’s failure to win ends their bid to become the first team in history to go through a season unbeaten.
“We never expected it,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “To have got through 14 races, in multiple conditions, is beyond our wildest imaginings. It is a hell of a run.
“We knew it had to come to an end at some point. Max has won 10 in a row and that is insanity.
“The only driver who has done nine is Sebastian (Vettel) in one of our cars so to have the first and second most winningest drivers in F1 is great – even if statistics apparently don’t matter. This kind of dominance is testimony to everyone involved.”