Red Bull Tech Guru Adrian Newey Stumped by Singapore Setback

Red Bull’s top brass have brushed off any insinuation that the FIA’s fresh stance on flexible bodywork is the reason behind the leading Formula 1 team’s sudden decline.

Post Max Verstappen clinching wins in the last ten races, and with the beverage-sponsored team having an unblemished win record in 2023, both Verstappen and Sergio Perez surprisingly didn’t qualify for ‘Q3’ in Singapore.

This marks the team’s worst qualifying performance in five years.

“It’s definitely strange that they’ve been off the pace this weekend. Unusual,” Mercedes driver George Russell, the meat in a Ferrari sandwich on the grid, said.

Earlier in the week, Verstappen had indicated likely challenges on the brightly lit roads, which reminded many of his least impressive outing in 2022.

What truly stumped Red Bull was the degree of their setback in Singapore.

“It doesn’t matter whether I’m 11th, 15th or at the very back,” Verstappen insisted. “For me it is much more important that we understand why things went so badly.”

Red Bull’s tech maestro Adrian Newey remarked: “We now have to find out what happened.”

Stranger still, the formidable 2023 car appears to grapple with several distinct challenges in Singapore, including subpar handling and grip.

Verstappen voiced concerns over gear upshift troubles and described a ground-touching floor as a “shocking experience”, whereas Perez indicated anomalies with the Honda power unit.

“We don’t understand what is going on,” the Mexican driver voiced.

“I had a lag with the engine. When I hit the gas, I suddenly had a lot of power and couldn’t control the car. There are a lot of things going on and we have some suspicions, but we need to figure it all out and make sure we understand it properly.”

Speculations linked Red Bull’s abrupt dip with the newly-implemented FIA curbs on flexible aerodynamic elements. Red Bull trialled a new floor on Friday, but opted for the standard version in the end.

Dr Helmut Marko rebuffed claims that this adjustment was a response to the FIA’s technical guidelines, which took effect this Singapore weekend.

“It (the floor) had been planned for a long time,” Marko asserted. “It worked well in the simulator and promised more downforce.”

A prevailing guess hints at Red Bull being tripped up by the revamped tarmac and track modifications.

“It wasn’t taken into account that the newly asphalted areas are much smoother than they used to be,” Marko offered. “And when you’re so addicted to the technology, it takes too long for you to react.

“There was a fundamental mistake.”

Fascinatingly, Red Bull’s competitors also aren’t pinning the FIA measures as the cause for the downturn.

“Everyone had to react to the directives in some way,” Mercedes’ Toto Wolff concedes. “Some more, others less.

“But you can’t say with one set of data what effect it really has.”

McLaren chief Andrea Stella echoed: “I don’t know whether Red Bull is affected by this at all. And if they are, the effect would not explain such a big gap.”

Verstappen, boasting a staggering 194-point advantage over his closest non-Red Bull rival in the drivers’ standings, was also probed about the FIA restrictions impacting the Singapore performance.

“I guess this question would come,” he remarked to Viaplay. “Let’s see next week at Suzuka.

“This is a street track and we tried to find a compromise, but we clearly did something wrong.”

He also conceded that his record-smashing ten-race victory chain will likely snap come Sunday.

Marko concurred: “It had to happen at some point, but the fact that it hit us so badly here is difficult to understand.”