SINGAPORE, Oct 2, 2022 (AFP): A furious Max Verstappen on Saturday night (Oct 2) blamed a fuelling blunder for his eighth place in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Runaway Formula One world championship leader Verstappen was on course to snatch pole from Ferrari's Charles Leclerc when he was told to abort his final flying lap and return to the pits.
That prompted an expletive-laden tirade over the team radio from the fiery Dutchman as he was left languishing on the fourth row of the grid to start Sunday's night race.
"We ran out of fuel. It's just incredibly frustrating and shouldn't happen," said Verstappen, who was trying to take advantage of the track drying out from earlier rain and quickening up.
The team had sent him out with enough fuel for five laps in the final qualifying run but Verstappen went for a sixth, backing off his previous lap to take advantage of the evolving track conditions.
"When you under-fuel it or you don't plan to do six laps, then at least you track it throughout the session that you're not going to make it," said Verstappen, who said he could have taken pole had he been informed of the fuel situation.
"They should have let me finish the lap before where I think we were already on a pole position lap," said Verstappen.
"I can't see how much fuel is in the car, but we have all the sensors in the world to track these things.
"We should have seen that way earlier. I'm not happy at all at the moment," he seethed.
"Of course, it's always a team effort. I can make mistakes and the team can make mistakes, but it's never acceptable.
"You learn from it, but this is really bad to be honest. It shouldn't happen."
Verstappen has won the last five races despite starting lower than eighth in two of them, because of grid penalties.
But the 25-year-old will face a monumental task to make it six in a row on Sunday night around the tight Marina Bay street circuit, where overtaking is extremely difficult.
"Around here it's like Monaco almost," said Verstappen.
"Just really hard to pass so I'm expecting a really frustrating race for me where I'm just stuck behind people."
Verstappen has a mathematical chance to retain his title this weekend, but must win with Leclerc finishing eighth or lower.
Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, who will start alongside Leclerc on the front row for the race, also needs to finish outside the top three or the championship battle will be extended to the Japanese Grand Prix in a week's time.
The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton will start third, the Englishman's best qualifying result of 2022, with Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in fourth. - AFP