Max Verstappen had an exciting opening day at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, but not necessarily in a positive way. The balance of the RB19 was lacking and the two-time world champion made this clear to his team several times. Verstappen slid in all directions and as if it wasn’t difficult enough to keep the car clear of the wall on the demanding circuit in Singapore, the Red Bull Racing driver also bumped into an ‘old acquaintance’. Verstappen was of course not the only driver who experienced an adventurous day and expressed his frustrations over the on-board radio. F1Maximaal lists the best on-board radios.
Verstappen and Red Bull had already expected that it would be a difficult weekend and the Dutchman actually did not feel comfortable in the RB19 from the very first moment. ‘I’m having a hard time both in the middle and at the exit of the bend. “I actually suffer from oversteer in every corner,” Verstappen expressed his dissatisfaction to his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase. ‘Coming out of the slow corners I have no traction at all.’
‘Ah, there’s a lizard on the track again’
Verstappen was definitely not happy with the balance, but halfway through the first session the Limburger relaxed somewhat. Not because of the performance of the RB19, but because of a monitor lizard moving around the circuit. Verstappen had not forgotten his previous experience (2016) with a monitor lizard. ‘Ah, there’s another monitor lizard on the track! But this time it is a smaller one,” Verstappen tells his team. “Okay Max, maybe Godzilla had a child,” is Lambiase’s hilarious response. “Yes, that would make sense,” Verstappen admitted.
After the report from Verstappen, among others, the race management decided to wave the yellow flag so that the track posts could chase the animal off the circuit. However, the animal had other plans and returned twice. “There’s another monitor lizard on the circuit in turn nine,” noted Carlos Sainz and George Russell. The animal would ultimately not return to the circuit for a fourth time. Fernando Alonso did not see the monitor lizard and drove over it with his AMR23.
Red Bull has still not solved balance problems, Russell complains about fellow drivers
In the period between the two free practice sessions, Helmut Marko announced that Verstappen did not yet have full confidence in the car and that he would be working hard on this towards FP2. The team would undoubtedly have done that, but a solution was not found, as it soon became apparent. Verstappen again slid around the circuit and just managed to keep his car clear of the wall at the exit of turn thirteen. “***, I’m coming in,” Verstappen expressed his frustrations. Things did not go much better on the other side of the garage, as Pérez also complained about a lack of grip. ‘In every braking zone I feel like I’m going to crash. The rear steps out enormously,” were the Mexican’s less than encouraging words.
Red Bull’s drivers were spared little, as both drivers incurred the wrath of some competitors. Pérez in particular had to suffer. Russell hit the Mexican in his path in the third corner and felt that the Red Bull driver was getting in his way. ‘He is a ***.’ Verstappen also had a problem with a fellow driver. During FP2, Sainz drove hard towards turn thirteen towards the Dutchman, who was driving slowly. The Spaniard almost crashed into the back of the Red Bull, but managed to avoid an accident. He also reported over the on-board radio. “I almost ran into this guy,” said Sainz, who did not seem to know that Verstappen was the perpetrator. It was clearly not Verstappen and Red Bull’s day and they will hope that things go a little smoother on Saturday.
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