Max Verstappen tore into Red Bull with a sensational scathing attack on his team after the Dutchman was denied pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix. The championship leader looked to be on course to snatch pole from Charles Leclerc until he was told to pit by his team, meaning he will start eighth in Sunday’s race and the birthday boy was left fuming by the decision.
The Dutchman, celebrating his 25th birthday this weekend, would have been hoping to clinch pole position to give himself the best chance of sealing the Drivers’ Championship title this weekend with five races remaining, having already won 11 out of 16 this season.
But he faces an uphill task to take the race victory required to put himself beyond Leclerc’s reach after only qualifying eighth for the race at the Marina Bay street circuit. He was told to pit the car before the final turn due to a low fuel reading, which could have jeopardised his position on the grid depending on how much was left in the tank.
And Verstappen made no attempt to hide his feelings about the team’s mistake, ripping into his engineers for failing to spot his low fuel levels throughout the Q3 session.
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“I really felt the lap before as well, but then they told me to abort so I was like ‘OK’. And we did that, but on the final lap they told me to box and I realised what I think was going to happen, we ran out of fuel,” he told Sky Sports F1 after qualifying.
“It’s incredibly frustrating and shouldn’t happen. When you underfuel it or plan to do six laps, at least then you track that throughout the session that you’re not going to make it. We should have seen that way earlier.
“Not happy at all at the moment. I know of course it’s always a team effort, I can make mistakes, the team can make mistakes, but it’s never acceptable. You can learn from it but this is really… bad, to be honest.
Verstappen used several expletives in an edited radio message broadcast on the F1 world feed, questioning why Red Bull had brought him in before his race engineer, Giampiero Lambiase, intervened to cool down the outspoken star.
It is unclear as to whether team principal Christian Horner will speak to him privately about his outburst or whether the team will cover the matter when they sit down for a debrief on Saturday evening.
But Verstappen will be feeling less confident about his chances of wrapping up the title in the Far East now than before qualifying, despite holding a 116-point lead over Leclerc given what he requires to win the championship in Singapore.
The 2021 title winner must win the race and get the fastest lap, as well as hoping Leclerc finishes ninth or lower, to clinch his second crown in F1. And while there is an air of inevitability about his expected success, Verstappen’s frustration with his team’s inability to get a simple job done to put him on the front row was evident.