Max Verstappen says his plan for Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix is “still to be attacking”, despite the Toro Rosso rookie starting from a higher grid position than at previous events.
The Dutch sensation qualified a strong eighth at Marina Bay Circuit, splitting the two Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in Q3. Verstappen has quickly established his reputation as a feisty racer on track, especially after storming through the field at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
But the F1 debutant insists that lining up nearer the front will not make him change his offensive style.
“We have very good pace,” said Verstappen. “The cars around us will be quite close but we also have one Williams in front and I think we can challenge him. So I will still be attacking, I hope I don’t have to look in my mirrors too much.”
Making his Singapore debut this weekend, Verstappen has been consistently on pace and running in the top 10 across all sessions. But the 17-year-old admits he can not cut any corners in the learning process.
“It’s always more difficult if you come here for the first time, you always have to experience everything for the first time so probably next year you have a bit more experience and it will be even better.
“But I can be very happy how I built up my weekend, no damage to the car, just built it up step by step and I think that’s very important.”
Renault-powered cars have also looked very frisky all along, with Toro Rosso’s parent squad Red Bull placing its two drivers at the sharp end of the grid.
Verstappen’s team-mate Carlos Sainz nearly made it a perfect Q3 record for the French engine supplier but eventually clipped the wall during his final Q2 run.
The Dutch teenager remains however aware that this strong overall performance has more to do with Singapore’s unique circuit characteristics than any potential power unit improvement.
“For the moment it feels like pure track layout. You don’t have so many straights here; I don’t know what Mercedes did, maybe they had to turn down their engines or something but you can see Red Bull is up there, we are not that far away, so I am very happy with that.”
“For us the most important thing is to be ahead of our closest competitors and that’s what we did today compared to Lotus and Force India.”
Click here for some of the most memorable crashes at Singapore