Mika Hakkinen admits he was surprised to see Red Bull make an "embarrassing" mistake during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Max Verstappen arrived at the Marina Bay Street Circuit with the possibility to win his second World Championship, while Red Bull held a comfortable lead over Ferrari in the Constructors' standings. However, things unravelled for Verstappen when he was unable to complete his final flying lap in Saturday's qualifying due to not having enough fuel. The Dutchman had been on course for a pole position time, but race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase ordered him to box to ensure he met the requirement for a one litre sample of fuel to be available for FIA checks.
Hakkinen reflects on "surprising" error from Red Bull
Given the dominance of Verstappen and Red Bull throughout much of the 2022 campaign, Hakkinen was not expecting such an error to occur from the partnership. "This was a weekend when Max could have won the World Championship, but the mistake by the team in qualifying on Saturday really cost him," Hakkinen said in his column for Unibet . "It is quite unusual for a team to ask a driver to abort a qualifying lap, especially one which was actually looking pretty good, but to then discover you don't have enough fuel to complete another lap was embarrassing. "Red Bull has been operationally very strong all season, so this was pretty surprising."
Singapore a "weekend to forget" for Verstappen
The qualifying issue resulted in Verstappen lining up P8 for Sunday's race, which was delayed by one hour following heavy rainfall. A battle in the midfield followed for the 2021 World Champion, resulting in him finishing the race in seventh. Hakkinen expects that Verstappen will be keen to move on from the weekend and look ahead to the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix. "I think a lot of people expected Max to recover well from eighth place on the grid, but the conditions meant he made a poor start and then lost time fighting in the midfield," the former F1 driver commented. "This was a weekend to forget. These kinds of races happen, even in a season where you are extremely competitive, and you just have to move on and focus on making sure the next weekend goes much better. "I have no doubt the Red Bull will suit the Suzuka circuit in Japan this weekend and that Max can claim the title. The team just needs to make sure they don't make any more mistakes."
Hakkinen: Even World Champions can get it wrong
Hakkinen also believes that slip-ups made by the likes of Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton during the event highlight just how tricky the conditions were to manage. "The mistakes from both Max and Lewis showed just what a fantastic job everyone else was doing!" the Finn added. "It is so easy to lose grip in conditions which are too fast for Intermediates but really challenging on slicks, and this reminds everyone that any driver – even experienced World Champions – can get it wrong when pushing at the limit. "I think we all expect perfection from drivers like them, so when they make a mistake it can seem quite a shock!"