IMAGE: Max Verstappen could record a 16th successive victory for Red Bull this weekend in Singapore. Photograph: Eva Plevier/Reuters
Max Verstappen hit back at Mercedes Formula One team boss Toto Wolff on Thursday after the Austrian said the Red Bull driver’s record run of 10 wins in a row was irrelevant and just for Wikipedia.
Wolff made his comments after this month’s Italian Grand Prix, where Mercedes were beaten by both Ferraris as well as the two Red Bulls.
Asked at the Singapore Grand Prix for his reaction, Verstappen said he was not disappointed.
“They had a pretty shit race, so probably he was still pissed off with their performance,” the 25-year-old Dutch driver told a news conference ahead of a race that could bring his team a 16th successive victory.
“He almost sounds like he’s an employee of our team sometimes, but luckily not.”
Verstappen, who is 145 points clear of team mate Sergio Perez in the championship and set for a third title well before the end of the season, suggested Wolff should focus on his own team.
“That’s what we did in the past as well, when we were behind them and when they were dominating,” he said.
“I think you should be able to appreciate when a team is doing really well. Which I think we’ve done in the past, because it worked also as a kind of inspiration. To see someone that dominant, it was very impressive at the time.
“We knew that we just had to work harder, try to be better and try to get to that level. And now that we are there, we are very happy of course that we are there and we are enjoying the moment.”
Mercedes won a record eight constructors’ titles in a row between 2014 and 2021, with Lewis Hamilton taking six of his seven championships with the team.
Hamilton is currently fourth in the standings, 200 points behind Verstappen.
The Briton’s team mate and compatriot George Russell, the last non-Red Bull driver to win a race, is seventh and 255 points off the lead.
Verstappen faces Singapore test to continue record run
IMAGE: A view of the Marina Bay F1 circuit lit up on September 13 ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix night race. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters
Formula One leader Max Verstappen will have to win where he has never won before to continue his record run in Singapore this weekend.
Marina Bay is not one of the 23 circuits where Red Bull’s double world champion has stood on top of the podium and past performances give hope to rivals eager to end his domination.
Verstappen is on an unprecedented 10-race winning streak but last year finished seventh on the streets of Singapore while Mexican team mate Sergio Perez triumphed ahead of the two Ferrari drivers.
“Singapore is probably going to be the most challenging weekend out of the upcoming races as the stakes are heightened on a street circuit and the field is usually very close, not to mention the heat and humidity,” said Verstappen.
“Last year we had a very unlucky weekend, hopefully this year it will go a bit better…”
Perez can celebrate his 250th F1 start on Sunday by reducing Verstappen’s 145-point lead with eight rounds remaining at a circuit where passing is tricky, the walls are unforgiving and safety cars are frequently deployed.
Qualifying is crucial and the weather reports also point to some rain.
Red Bull, winners of every race this year, can mathematically clinch the constructors’ crown if they finish one-two and Mercedes fail to score, a scenario that looks unlikely but not impossible.
“It’s a street circuit, it’s one of the toughest on the calendar. We saw last year how perilous it can be so we’ll just do our best to keep this momentum running,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“There are so many elements — whether it’s reliability, luck, strategy, a pitstop, pace, weather,” added the Briton. “You’ve got to stay on top of your game.
“One day we’re going to get beaten, that’s inevitable. It’s just a question of when, and obviously we want to make the when as far away as we can.”
The track has been shortened and modified due to ongoing construction work, reduced from 23 corners to 19 with a longer straight that will make a quicker lap and faster race.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was on pole at the previous round in Monza while team mate Charles Leclerc started on pole in Singapore last year and they could be Red Bull’s closest challengers.
“Like all street circuits, the driver can really make a big difference here,” said Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur.
“We have done plenty of preparation work in the simulator and now the key will be for Carlos and Charles to do as many laps as possible in free practice, to extract all the potential from the SF-23.”
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has won four times in Singapore and the team are hopeful of a good result.
“The battle with our nearest competitors is incredibly close,” said principal Toto Wolff.
“It’s hard to predict just how the order will shake out each weekend. Nonetheless, we typically perform better on high downforce tracks, so we’re hopeful of a competitive showing.”
Aston Martin will also hope to challenge for the podium places.