Max Verstappen of Red Bull during the qualifying race ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, September 16, 2023. /CFP
World championship leader Max Verstappen slammed the performance of his Red Bull race car on Saturday, saying it was "a shocking experience" not to make it to the top 10 shootout in qualifying.
Verstappen was handed two reprimands but escaped a grid drop after he was eliminated in Q2 while finishing 11th fastest in the qualifying.
The championship leader, who has won the last 10 races, faced three stewards' inquiries for alleged impeding after a nightmare under the Marina Bay floodlights.
Stewards gave him his first reprimand of the season for unnecessarily impeding cars exiting the pit lane, the Dutch driver waiting some 14 seconds to create a gap to the cars in front.
The second was for impeding AlphaTauri stablemate Yuki Tsunoda, with the representative of the Red Bull-owned sister team choosing not to attend the hearing.
Verstappen was cleared entirely of impeding Williams' Logan Sargeant after the American told stewards he did not believe the champion was at fault.
Red Bull were fined 5,000 euros ($5,300) for the Tsunoda incident.
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari celebrates after taking pole position ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, September 16, 2023. /CFP
"I knew it would always be tough to put it on pole. But this I didn't expect," Verstappen told reporters after he and teammate Sergio Perez were both eliminated in Q2.
It was the first time since the Russian Grand Prix in 2018 that neither Red Bull had made it into Q3.
"It's just a shocking experience, and then trying to lean on the car in the slow-speed corners, I was constantly sliding and had no traction. Just really difficult to drive."
Perez won in Singapore last year from the front row, but he would have to make his 250th grand prix start in Sunday's night race from down the grid.
Red Bull have won all 14 races so far this season, but Singapore's Marina Bay street circuit is shaping up as the biggest challenge to the team's unprecedented quest to win all 22 races.
Chinese racer Zhou Guanyu drives his Alfa Romeo race car on the track at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, September 16, 2023. /CFP
Carlos Sainz put Ferrari in pole position, as the pole was the Spaniard's and Ferrari's second in succession, as well as the Italian team's third in four races.
Alfa Romeo's Chinese racer Zhou Guanyu finished 19th in the qualifying.
(With input from agencies)
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