Max Verstappen felt better in F1 Singapore GP race but reckons safety car disrupted the run, as Christian Horner adds more.

Red Bull went for the alternative strategy in F1 Singapore GP starting on the hard compound. It would have worked well if not for the safety car period which helped others to pit even if it was few laps earlier than they would have liked to.

The re-start only frustrated Verstappen who was a sitting duck on the hard compound which showed no performance. If not for the safety car, the Dutchman would have had the chance to be more in the Top 5 fight considering where he finished eventually.

After stopping for the medium, Verstappen climbed up fast to sixth and cut down a 15 seconds gap to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to end up just on his tail. They both gained a place to be fourth and fifth after the late crash for Mercedes’ George Russell.

“Yes, everything went against us as well in the race with the safety cars so it was possibly also the worst case scenario as I really think if the safety cars worked out a little bit more in our favour I would’ve been fighting with the guys [at the front],” said Verstappen to media. “Especially with the last stint that was quite easy.

“When the safety car came out, I was like ‘shit’. It is exactly the wrong time and the wrong point. It is not what we wanted but I think the race was better, a little bit better, but we were still unlucky during the race with all the safety cars going against us. Clearly, we learned quite a bit and maybe what we did wrong in qualifying, I can’t go into details, but the problem is we can only show if next year if we come back if it is better or not.”

The set-up was the key problem described by Red Bull without going into the details. But Verstappen felt the car was much better on race trim than qualifying. “They were still there a bit, but to a lesser extent, but also our car is normally better in the race and I think you could see that again in the race, especially on the medium at the end as we had good pace.

“I was managing my tyres on that stint to have good tyres at the end but I was quite happy,” noted Verstappen. The race helped Red Bull understand more of their issues where they just couldn’t get things working in the right window especially the tyre performance.

The team were just surprised how difficult it was and how close the competition got. “We understood a lot more in the race,” said Horner. “And the pace of the car came much more back to what we expected. We knew coming here it would be expected to have closer competition. But it took us a bit by surprise, just how far out we were on Friday.

“And I think that we were just not in the right operating window for the car, particularly over a single lap. And when you’re not there, then the tyres feel horrible. Everything just doesn’t work. So I think we got a very good steer in the race, I think that we saw, particularly in the latter stint that Max’s pace was very, very strong.

“Unfortunately, in the race, by starting on the hard, we took if you’d like a strategic gamble, and the best way of that race paying us off is if you get an early safety car or a safety car sort of later into the race now the lap the safety car came out was probably strategically the worst possible lap for the strategy that we were on, because it gave the lead cars or cars ahead of us a free stop.

“At the same time, as whilst giving us track position, it made us take the restart with tyres that are very hard to heat up again, having done well over 20 laps. So then Max was obviously picked off by the guys that have had the free stop. And then we had to take a pit stop under normal racing conditions, which then dropped you with another 23 seconds behind with that. So you know, all considered the recovery that we had.

“And the pace that we had particularly in the latter part of the race to be 0.3 behind Charles at the finish line was a strong race. But at some point we were going to get beaten. 15 in a row is an unbelievable record. We’ve only been beaten once prior to tonight, since last July. And I have to congratulate Ferrari and particularly Carlos, who drove a very strong race today and deserved to win the race,” summed up Horner.

When asked about their pre-race simulations, Horner noted that they were programmed to finish seventh on the road but there was every chance to be on the podium if things had played out as was expected in terms of degradation.

“Our pre-race simulations were saying about P7,” said Horner. “That’s in a in a standard race. I think ironically enough, if we’d have had a standard race or strategy that we had with Carlos holding the front up because of the deg on those high tyres, Max would have definitely come into play with the pace that he had at the end of the race. So when you look at the distance, the delta he was off the leaders by the end of it, if you take away the delta for the free stop, suddenly bang, he’s right in the game.”

Here’s how F1 Singapore GP panned out

Here’s FIA warning Helmut Marko in Sergio Perez’s case

Here’s Sergio Perez’s response

Here’s Christian Horner on Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen new bicker