Max Verstappen says anybody who can’t appreciate the success Red Bull has achieved in Formula 1 in 2023 is “not a real fan” of the sport.
Red Bull will have the opportunity to retain the Constructors’ Championship this weekend in Japan with six rounds remaining. The team must outscore Mercedes and avoid getting outscored by 24 points or more by Ferrari, who won the previous race.
The Austrian outfit had an outside chance to secure the title last time out in Singapore but endured a nightmare weekend on the track.
Despite expecting to struggle more than at other venues on the F1 calendar, Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez could only finish fifth and eighth respectively, having both been eliminated in Q2 in qualifying.
While Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner explained after the race it had a “clearer understanding” of its issues, Verstappen believes the problems went beyond going the wrong way on set-up.
Asked ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix if its problems at the Marina Bay Circuit were for the reasons he initially suspected, Verstappen said: “No, way more than we thought.
“Even if we had the perfect setup it still would have been a harder weekend for us, but clearly we didn’t get the setup right and that made it more difficult.”
Verstappen asserts Red Bull has discovered a “couple of ideas” on the set-up side “but we can’t really show that until next year.”
“That is a little bit, in a way, annoying, but in another way we have time to fully understand everything,” he continued. “Also, we have to work on trying to improve the car on these kinds of tracks.”
The defeat curtailed Red Bull’s hopes of becoming the first team in F1 history to go an entire campaign undefeated, with its winning run ending at the 15-race mark. Meanwhile, Verstappen’s record streak of 10 consecutive victories also came to a halt.
However, the Dutchman claims he attached “no emotion” to his stretch being curtailed.
“I mean, yeah, we stopped winning for one race – s*** happens,” he expressed. “We won ten in a row before that!
“Of course I would have liked to win there as well but I also know there is always going to be a day or a weekend where you are not winning and things go wrong. Unfortunately, it was that weekend, but we just move on and try again.”
Red Bull’s rare absence at the front of the field enabled a thrilling contest to materialise between four drivers from three different teams in the closing stages last Sunday.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz capitalised to take the first non-Red Bull win of the year, beating out McLaren’s Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, who profited from Mercedes team-mate George Russell crashing out on the final tour.
Verstappen, though, declares he retains “zero interest” in an exciting race enticing viewers back, insisting Red Bull’s dominance has not been bad for the sport’s popularity.
“We got beaten and in a very clear way,” he added. “I don’t think about what’s good for Formula One.
“I don’t think it was necessarily bad what was happening to Formula One, because we were just better than everyone else. If people can’t appreciate that, then you are not a real fan.
“That’s how it goes and that’s why I was super relaxed about it, because we didn’t perform and other people did a better job than us and of course they deserve to win. They shouldn’t win because people say it’s boring that we are winning.”