For the first time this season, Red Bull were struggling for pace at the Singapore GP. During Friday practice, the team said they were surprised at their relatively poor performance and that translated to qualifying with both cars eliminated in Q2. However, the Red Bulls are still very strong in race trim. However, they weren’t strong enough to prevent an unfortunately timed Safety Car from ruining their chances.
Both cars started the race on hard compound tyres with the hope that a Safety Car would appear either early in the race or towards the end. Unfortunately, it came right in the middle on Lap 20 when Logan Sargeant hit the wall. Everyone ahead of Red Bull like Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes were able to grab a cheap pit stop. Red Bull could not.
“Unfortunately in the race,” Christian Horner explained to the media, “by starting on the hard, we took, if you like, a strategic gamble, and the best way of that race paying us off is if you get an early Safety Car or a Safety Car sort of later into the race.
“Now, the lap that the Safety Car came out in was probably, strategically, the worst possible lap for the strategy that we were on, because it gave the cars ahead of us a free stop. At the same time, whilst giving us track position, it made us take the restart with tyres that are very hard to heat up again, having done well over 20 laps.
“The Safety Car completely screwed it for us.”
Horner was optimistic about Red Bull’s pace in race trim which saw them returning to performance levels more in line with what they’re used to.
“I think we understood a lot more in the race and the pace of the car came much more to what we expected,” Horner said.
“Coming here we expected to have closer competition. But I think it took us a bit by surprise just how far out we were on Friday. And I think that we were just not in the right operating window for the car, particularly over a single lap, and when you’re not there then the tyres feel horrible, everything just doesn’t work…
“… So all considered,” Horner continued, “the recovery that we had, and the pace that we had, particularly in the latter part of the race. To be 0.2 [seconds] behind Charles at the finish line was a very strong race.”