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Red Bull Friday performance in Singapore 'way worse than expected' says downbeat Verstappen

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SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing

With Red Bull currently enjoying an unbeaten season in 2023, suggestions from the team that they might struggle at Singapore raised eyebrows in the paddock. But an underwhelming Friday for both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez seems to have given weight to the team’s pessimistic assessment…

It was Ferrari who secured a pair of one-two finishes across Free Practice 1 and 2 in Singapore and, while Verstappen managed to take third in FP1, come the cooler temperatures of FP2 the Dutchman had dropped to P8, 0.732s off Carlos Sainz’s fastest time – with Perez only one position and 0.040s quicker than his championship-leading team mate.

FP2: Sainz seals Ferrari Friday clean sweep as he leads Leclerc in second Singapore practice

“The Ferraris are very fast, but I think we’re just way worse than we expected,” was Verstappen’s view after stepping out of the car on Friday evening. “We’re just struggling a lot with the balance of the car.

“We tried quite a few things in FP2; some worked, some didn’t. We never really got the car together so it’s quite a few things to figure out tonight.

“I will try to, of course, improve,” he added, when asked if he felt he could still be in the fight for pole. “But it’s quite a big gap.”

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 leads

Verstappen admits Red Bull struggled plenty on Friday while Ferrari were quick in Singapore

Verstappen’s mood was echoed by Perez, with the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix winner reporting over team radio in FP2 that he felt he was on the verge of crashing – while Verstappen was also shown having lairy moments in the session as he struggled for rear traction in his RB19.

“I think there are some interesting bits going on that we need to figure out overnight,” said Perez. “We seem to be struggling quite a bit with the rear end of the car, especially in FP2, so plenty of things to look at, and hopefully we can come up with the best possible set-up, because we know qualifying is very, very important.

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix

“We did expect the Ferraris to be very strong around here. I mean, we’re just too far away, so hopefully tomorrow we’re able to close the gap a bit more, but I do expect quite a challenge… I think the main thing is to make sure we’re able to improve the balance – but at the moment, we’re far off.”

Red Bull can theoretically claim the constructors’ title in Singapore this weekend – although on the evidence at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Friday evening, the team may have to keep the celebrations on ice…

Perez admits Red Bull are ‘just too far away’ from the frontrunners after shock struggles in Friday practice

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