The timing screens indicated that Verstappen was nearly a second faster than eventual pole-sitter Charles Leclerc through the middle sector of his final wet-dry qualifying lap at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Verstappen was furious in response to an unexpected radio message from his engineer urging him to back out and head back to the pits, which forced the defending world champion to settle for eighth place on the starting grid.
“At the end of the day, I can make mistakes, the team can make mistakes, but I think it’s always important that we can be critical to each other when people make mistakes, because these things, they shouldn’t happen.”
Verstappen added, recalling his comeback victories from 10th on the grid in Hungary and 14th on the grid in Belgium: “But around here it’s like Monaco, almost. It’s really hard to pass, so I’m expecting a really frustrating race, where I’m just stuck behind people.”
Sergio Perez spearheaded Red Bull’s push with a run to second place, just 0.022s behind Leclerc. The Mexican driver was overcome with emotion as he exited the vehicle.
“I think it’s a good opportunity tomorrow already from the start to attack Charles and go for the win. I’m quite disappointed to miss out on pole by two-hundredths, but at the end of the day, it’s a great team result. My team did a fantastic job, [we made the] right calls at the end, so [I’m] pretty happy and [it’s a] solid job,” Perez commented.
“It was so tricky to learn the conditions today and tomorrow it can be wet at any time, so it will be so important and crucial just not to make any mistakes and progress with the race – that would be pretty good for us.”