Carlos Sainz not completely counting Verstappen out of Singapore GP

Red Bull will start from 11th and 13th for the 2023 Singapore GP, but will not be counted out of the win by the polesitter

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Pole-sitter Carlos Sainz has said that Max Verstappen can’t be counted out of the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver qualified 11th.

Sainz took his second consecutive pole of the season and a career fifth as he beat the challengers by 0.072 and 0.079 around the Marina Bay Street Circuit and said that Red Bull aren’t out of the battle for the win.

Audiences were shocked as Verstappen and Sergio Perez failed to make the cut for the next phase of qualifying with the world champion being eliminated by Liam Lawson and Red Bull‘s junior team, AlphaTauri.

“I don’t think you can ever discard Max and Red Bull,” Sainz said to the media. “They might turn up tomorrow with with the race pace they’ve had all season and still managed somehow to make it through the field.

“But for sure around here they have a much more difficult task and it’s a much better opportunity than Monza.”

Max Verstappen of Red Bull ahead of 2023 Singapore Grand Prix practice | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

When did the top three learn Verstappen was out?

“My engineer told me the two Red Bulls were out,” Sainz said to the media. “It was not bad news to have. I’m looking more into tomorrow than than today, as qualifying was always going to be a battle.

“Yes with Max but also with with Lando [Norris], George and Charles. I think we were all very tight in practice and it was really tight again in qualifying.

“I thought the battle for pole position was not going to be affected too much, but the battle for the win probably and yeah, it was a decent news to receive for sure.”

Russell, however, revealed that he was not informed of Verstappen‘s elimination and only noticed following the first runs of Q3.

Nobody told me so it didn’t really change my approach heading into into Q3,” Russell said to media. “Just we focused on ourselves and maximising the result.

“But it definitely strange that they’ve [Red Bull] been off the pace this weekend. Unusual.”

Leclerc echoed what Russell said as he wasn’t informed of Verstappen‘s premature exit from qualifying and had to work it out for himself.

“For me, my engineer didn’t tell me they didn’t get though,” Leclerc said to the media. “So just when I was in the box with the screens, I could see that they didn’t make it through. That’s it.”

Sainz not expecting Monza-esque battle

Sainz had a 15-lap battle with Verstappen at the start of the Italian GP in Monza, before he eventually was overtaken after his rear tyres started to fall away.

But despite having his teammate close by and Russell behind, who holds an ability to one or two stop as he reserved a medium tyre, Sainz isn’t anticipating a race-long battle of the same ilk as in Italy.

“I’m sure that the characteristics of the track won’t allow the nice battles and great wheel-to-wheel racing that we had in Monza,” Sainz added to media. “Which again was a lot of fun and a great battle, but I think this track is very, very different.”

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