Max Verstappen won’t lose any sleep over Ferrari putting an end to Red Bull’s 2023 clean sweep following Carlos Sainz’s triumph in the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ahead of the Marina Bay round, Verstappen suggested that his team could be up against some staunch opposition on the sweltering streets of Singapore, a venue not particularly well-suited for the bulls’ RB19, however dominant it has been this season.
But the championship leader’s troubles went far beyond what he expected, to the point where he claimed that he had endured a “shocking experience” in qualifying with a car that he could not get up to speed.
Having missed the Q3 cut, the Dutchman launched his race from P11 on the grid and as the only driver among the top ten fitted with the hard tyre, a choice that augured for a long first stint.
In the end, events carried him to P5, an inconsequential result in the grand scheme of things.
"I knew that this day would come so for me it is absolutely fine," a serene Verstappen said after seeing his record run of 10 consecutive wins in 2023 grind to a halt.
"Everything needs to be perfect. Everyone is always saying, 'Ah look how dominant they are and look how easy it is'.
"But it is never easy, and a lot of details that we need to get right and this weekend clearly we didn't get a few things right and then you are on the back foot."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner echoed his star driver’s sentiment on Sunday evening, reminding pundits that he had always been cautious when asked about his team’s chances of achieving a clean sweep this season.
For Horner, 15 consecutive wins in F1 – starting from Abu Dhabi in 2022 – was in itself an “unimaginable” accomplishment.
"We never expected it," he said. "I mean, there's still eight races to go!
“You guys have been asking me since pretty much Jeddah, and to have got through 15 races is beyond our wildest imagination.
"For Max to have won 10 in a row is insanity. Last time a driver did that was Sebastian [Vettel] in one of our cars.
"Again, so incredibly proud to have the first and the second most winningest drivers in F1. While statistics apparently don't matter, they are ones that as a team we are incredibly proud of.
"And to have got this far, to have broken the record [held by McLaren] since 1988, shows just how hard it is to achieve the kind of supremacy that we've achieved this year.
“And that's testimony to everybody doing and playing their part.”