Every Formula 1 race that was run in 2023 was won by Red Bull Racing. The last ten races have been won by Max Verstappen. Both of these records are still in effect and both are in grave jeopardy of being broken tomorrow.
Both Verstappen and Sergio Perez were eliminated in the second round of qualifying, indicating that they did not run quickly enough to compete for a spot in the top 10 on race day. Verstappen will instead start in positions 11 and 13, respectively, missing tenth and a slot in qualifying by seven thousandths of a second.
The possibility of one of Ferrari, Mercedes, or McLaren winning their first race of the year is increased by the Red Bulls’ poor starting position. Carlos Sainz Jr. of Ferrari and George Russell of Mercedes will start first through fifth among five drivers from those three teams. They are all winless this season, just like everyone else with the exception of Verstappen and Perez. The most successful driver in F1 history, Lewis Hamilton, who starts fifth, hasn’t achieved victory since 2021. Fourth-place starter Lando Norris has never previously captured a grand prix.
The unexpected qualifying results occur in the first race with the new flexible wing restriction. Although all teams are equally affected by the rule, those that may have depended more on trick wings may suffer more than those who did not use them as extensively in their designs. The Red Bulls haven’t led a single practice or qualifying session this weekend, so it’s unclear if that pace differential was sufficient to put them behind at the unusual Singapore street track. Max Verstappen has already won a race this season from ninth place, which is unfortunate for their mid-field rivals because they have also performed significantly better than 11th in those sessions.