It took 15 races in 2023, but Red Bull’s win streak in F1, and in particular Max Verstappen‘s record breaking 10 race win streak, has come to a close.
The Singapore Grand Prix is one of just four races on the current calendar that Verstappen has not won at yet, to go along with Australia, Qatar (which has only had one race), and the still-to-be-run Las Vegas. So it wasn’t a surprise on the macro level that this would be where the winning streak ended, but it ended up being the capper of a weekend Red Bull will like to forget.
Throughout the three practice sessions, Red Bull seemed to be down on speed and grip to the other top tier cars. This wasn’t that out of character for Red Bull this season, but it was concerning when FP3 rolled around and the team still couldn’t get a grip on the track.
Qualifying ended in the ultimate embarrassment. Verstappen was 10th after his hot lap, but was booted to 11th as the session came to a close. For more embarrassment, he was knocked out of Q3 by rookie Liam Lawson, making just his third start in F1 with the Red Bull B team AlphaTauri. Sergio Perez, the defending race winner, showed off how slippery the Red Bull was by spinning on his hot lap to end Q2 in 13th.
The quest for a perfect season all but wrapped up, all Red Bull could do was brace themselves for the marathon ahead and make a run for the most points possible.
Verstappen was eighth after getting past the Haas cars and Lawson by lap 7, but couldn’t quite make his way through the train of cars on the first run
The safety car that came out on lap 20 allowed Verstappen to take over second and Perez fourth, as they could not pit with his hard tires and make it to the end of the race. The rest of the leaders pitted for hard tires, meaning Red Bull had to make another pit stop before the end of the race that the leaders did not need to.
On lap 40, Perez made his last stop from ninth, after being passed by both Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso on the lap prior. Verstappen made his final pit stop of the race a couple of laps later, coming in to the pits sixth and coming back out in 15th and over 13 seconds behind 10th.
Just a handful of laps later, Ocon stalled out on track, bringing out the virtual safety car. It was a double whammy for Red Bull, as their drivers could not take the 10 second or so advantage from pitting under the VSC and they couldn’t close up to the rest of the field like they could under a full safety car.
Verstappen was able to work his way up to sixth and hound Charles Leclerc in the closing laps for fifth, but was unable to get by the Monegasque driver. Perez got by both Alex Albon and Lawson in the closing laps, finishing eighth. However, Perez is under review as of press time for potentially forcing Albon off of the track.
After a weekend in which Verstappen spent much of his time yelling at his team about how bad the car drives, the probable future 2023 champion took a very measured tone over his radio on the cooldown lap.
“I gave it all, was a bit unlucky,” Verstappen said. “Got some good points I guess on a difficult weekend… I pushed until the end.”
Verstappen’s win streak ends at 10, the most in the history of Formula 1. Red Bull has set the all time record for most wins to start a season at 14, falling just eight short of a perfect season.
Now that the perfect season has ended, the next question is when Verstappen will clinch the driver’s championship and Red Bull the constructor’s championship. Verstappen now holds a 151 point lead on Perez, with 206 points still up for grabs (24 of those points are in the final three sprint races of the year). Verstappen won’t be able to clinch the championship in Japan, and will have to wait until at least Qatar in October.
There are still 353 points up for grabs this season in constructor’s. Red Bull have a 208 point lead on Mercedes in that category. Once again, this means Red Bull will have to wait now until at least Qatar to clinch this championship.
So even though Red Bull came up short of a perfect season, they were still able to get the most of a bad, unlucky weekend and are still well on their way to two championships.
He who laughs last, laughs loudest.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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