Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Singapore, 2022

Verstappen fumes over Red Bull’s “really bad” fuel error which cost him shot at pole

2022 Singapore Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says the fuel miscalculation by his Red Bull team that forced him to abandon an almost certain pole lap is “never acceptable”.

The world championship leader – who has a slim chance of clinching his second world title tomorrow – will start from eighth on the grid for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix. He looked on course to clinch pole position on his final lap of qualifying as he was almost a second faster than eventual pole winner Charles Leclerc through two sectors before his team told him to abandon his lap.

Verstappen was furious on the radio after being called into the pits, demanding an explanation for why he had to abandon his lap. He had also backed off from his penultimate lap in the final sector under instruction from his team. This was done in order to give himself more space on the track to Pierre Gasly ahead of him, and allow Verstappen to complete a final flying lap when the track conditions were at their best.

Asked by Sky whether he believed he would have been on pole position had he not abandoned his final lap, Verstappen said he “already felt [that] the lap before as well”.

“Then they told me to abort,” Verstappen explained, “so I was like ‘okay, we’ll do that’. But then on the final lap they told me to box and then I realised what was going to happen – we ran out of fuel.”

Verstappen was the first to queue at the pit lane just under a minute before the green light came on at the end of the pit lane to signal the start of Q3. He remained on track for the entire session on his soft tyres, completing a total of eight laps on his fuel load before he was called in on his final lap.

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“It’s just incredibly frustrating,” continued Verstappen. “It shouldn’t happen.

“Even if you under-fuel it or when you don’t plan to do that sixth lap, then at least you track that throughout the session that you’re not going to make it. We should have seen that way earlier.

“So [I’m] not happy at all at the moment. I know, of course, it’s always a team effort and I can make mistakes and the team can make mistakes, but it’s never acceptable. Of course you learn from it, but this is really bad, to be honest. It shouldn’t happen.”

Verstappen will start tomorrow’s race from eighth on the grid. Despite having won from seventh, 10th and 14th on the grid in recent races he is not confident he will be able to make his way through the field again around the Singapore street circuit.

“It’s a bit like Monaco – it’s just super hard to pass, Verstappen said. “You can maybe do a little bit with strategy, but at the moment I’m not really in the mood to think about the race tomorrow.

“Once I jump in the car, I will always give it of course my very best, but at the moment, I’m just super frustrated with what just happened.”

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2022 Singapore Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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31 comments on “Verstappen fumes over Red Bull’s “really bad” fuel error which cost him shot at pole”

  1. Weird to have angry, petulant, recalcitrant Verstappen back when he’s basically champion already.

    1. Not really. Somewhat predictable, honestly.

      He doesn’t handle upsets well.

  2. Just being careful not to go over the budget cap. Have you seen the cost of fuel these days?

  3. Such errors shouldn’t happen, but I predict he wins regardless.
    Yes, Marina Bay Street Circuit is among the least overtaking-friendly circuits on paper, but so is Hungaroring, where he won from P10, so anything’s possible, & even more so if the race is rain-affected.

    1. This is worse though than Budapest. At least in Budapest, you can have different lines into overtaking zones. Here, the car can just cover the inside line and prevent a move.

    2. @jerejj Depends how hard he pushes, he was looking dangerously close to losing it during Q3. Singapore seldom favours bold overtaking.

    3. There’s rain on the cards tomorrow and any crash around Singapore is an almost definite safetycar these days so I certainly wouldn’t say it’s impossible. He’s going to need to be in the right place at the right time to capitalise though.

      1. Tommy Scragend
        1st October 2022, 17:12

        I really hope Perez doesn’t make a mistake tomorrow, or the conspiracy theorists will wet themselves.

    4. There is always “safety cars” to help.

    5. Also depends on what strategy the other teams in between have – wether it’s worthwhile fighting a red bull or rather just let it pass to save time in the long run.

  4. Perhaps Red Bull just want him to win the Championship in Japan, to celebrate with Honda…

    1. Now THAT is a conspiracy that makes a lot of sense!

  5. Even a well oiled machine like Red Bull racing can make mistakes. If it was Ferrari making that type of mistake people would be going crazy.

    1. Yes. Because making a mistake every other year is not the same as making a mistake every other day.

  6. I appreciate Red Bull’s decision to pit him. (after realizing their error) They just threw away a pole lap because they knew they’d probably be disqualified otherwise. They could’ve finished the lap and stopped immediately and tried something. But they knew they had no chance so took the hard pill of 8th with an aborted pole lap instead of disqualification and pitlane start.

    These decisions make a top team. After an error they limited the damage.

    I wonder how other teams would’ve reacted in the same situation. I think half of them would’ve finished the lap.

    1. Good point but why did they not stop the car after the finishline or is that not allowed?

      1. i don’t think that’s allowed anymore. Hamilton did it at Canada 2010 and shortly after there was a rule against it.
        Can’t remember the exact terms though.

        1. Must return to the pits and be able to provide 1L of fuel as a sample to the FIA.

          Really ought to be in kg, though, as “1L” varies a bit by temperature.

      2. Must have 1litre + the calculated fuel to return to the pits.

    2. @f1mre It’s definitely been done before – I recall Alesi in a Sauber doing it somewhere (Catalunya?). But I think these days you’d have to provide the FIA with a pretty solid excuse for doing it with all the data available, otherwise we’d see everyone just pull up after the line if a lap of fuel is worth a tenth (maybe more around Singapore).

      I think Lewis has been done twice for not having enough for a sample (Montreal & Catalunya where Maldonado won I think). Even still, I think if I was on the pitwall – I’d probably have just winged it and asked him to cross the line and then pretend there was something wrong on the car and pull over.

      It’s cheating I guess. So maybe not. But this is F1. So maybe yeah.

      1. True, would’ve made more sense, wouldn’t be the first time people are faking issues when it’s useful for them.

  7. Imagine being angry at a fuelling mistake!! I would love to be a fly on the wall when someone scrapes the number one off his car and pulls his golden booties off because his team cheated in ’21 & ’22 by fiddling the spreadsheets. Can you imagine the grin on Toto’s face right now?

    1. @jazz
      Verstappen often swears at his team, other drivers etc. etc. He often seems very easy to upset.
      I must admit that I thought once he’d been awarded the big shiny prize last year, he would calm down somewhat, but no. Maybe he’s unhappy because he thinks there’s a danger of RB losing points? As I do not have any inside info about that, I don’t know.

      1. Agreed, I understand thoroughly and my above comment is only flippant speculation at this stage. Very entertaining surmising what might befall of the Human Error “Champion” though, if anything.

        1. Funny you need to call him like that for abu dhabi when he would’ve been champion much earlier if not for an exploding tyre or merc taking him out.

          1. I’d say it’s funny that you can’t tell the difference between bad luck and deliberate action by a race official, but it really isn’t.

          2. Then I would add an in season change in the tire regulation, hugely benefitting Mercedes, as a bigger fraud by the FIA than Abu. Abu could at least be labelled a mistake in the heat of the moment. Politically changing things to swing the momentum to Mercedes is intentional and pre-planned. And with respect to labelling being taken out as bad luck oversees the leniency with which it was handled by the officials. So lenient it allowed the guy triggering things to still win.

      2. I think it is quite simple actually. A top athlete, being in the olympics for instance does all to win his/her discipline. Preparation, devotion, having a plan with your team around you etc etc. You aim for flawlessness, otherwise why bother. How do you think football teams win the champions league? I needs to be a machine an the team needs to be critical on every performance. If within that chain something goes wrong I would think you would be upset. It is not like he is you or me and just occasionally checks in with the sport. I would be worried if he doesn’t care.

  8. Deliberate action to still pull a decent race position here, then reward Honda with a “home” WDC next weekend.

    I don’t believe a single thing RBR does is as it seems these days.

  9. Team meet bus. I jest though as he’s not wrong that it’s a pretty basic error to make, I’m guessing somehow Perez didn’t have the same issue though which is strange. In the grand scheme of things the championship is all but over so it’s not exactly critical and in all likelihood even with difficult overtaking he’ll breeze past everyone in the race such is the raw pace advantage he’s had this year at times.

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