The Singapore Grand Prix qualifying difficulties that Red Bull encountered had no connection to the recent decision by FIA, the governing body, to impose stricter regulations on flexible bodywork, team principal Christian Horner clarified on Saturday. This contradicts initial suspicions that the new directive, TD018, might have affected the team’s performance. The new regulations, introduced this weekend, were crafted after Tim Goss, the governing body’s technical director, noticed “a little bit too much freedom being applied to the design details of aerodynamic components.”
Current championship front-runner, Max Verstappen, despite coming off a remarkable streak of ten successive victories, only managed to obtain the 11th position in the qualifiers. His Red Bull team-mate, and his nearest threat for the title, Sergio Perez — albeit with a substantial gap of 145 points behind — clocked the 13th fastest timing.
Red Bull has commanded the Formula One circuit this season, bagging every Grand Prix race and accumulating 15 straight wins dating back to last year. However, a palpable decline in their pace was evident during the qualifiers in Singapore, with Mercedes and Ferrari taking the front row slots for the Sunday night race.
Horner shared his astonishment with Sky Sports, saying, “It’s very, very confusing. To have dropped the amount of pace that we have.” He further expounded on the team’s challenges, “The car’s just not responding to changes, you can hear this understeer, oversteer, braking issues — it’s like we haven’t managed to get the tyre into the right working window.”
He divulged that the car used in Singapore’s qualifying round was essentially the same model they used previously in Monza and Zandvoort, challenging assumptions related to recent technical directive changes. Horner added, “Nothing’s changed on the car. We tried a new aero part on Friday and we thought OK we’ll revert on that component, so it’s a tried and tested set-up that we have. But it just hasn’t responded on this circuit, on this asphalt.”