Max Verstappen’s winning record threatens to be broken in the humid heat of Singapore.

The two-time champion and clear Formula 1 World Championship leader struggled with his Red Bull more than he would have liked during training on the street circuit. After finishing third in the first session, he couldn’t get past eighth place in the second free practice session under qualifying and race conditions, more than seven tenths of a second behind. Ferrari set the pace.

“It’s going to be very tight, we expected that,” said Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko on the pay TV channel Sky: “We have to make sure we can do something in qualifying, otherwise it will be very difficult.”

Verstappen won twelve of the fourteen races this season, while his Mexican stable rival Sergio Pérez won the remaining two. There seems to be more than a chance for the competition to break Red Bull’s streak, at least in Singapore. Pérez only finished seventh twice. Charles Leclerc was fastest in the first training session. The Monegasque relegated his Spanish Ferrari team-mate to second place, with Sainz moving ahead of Leclerc in second.

Nico Hülkenberg is 17th and eleventh

The mathematically possible title decision in the constructors’ championship will probably also be postponed: Red Bull would need a double success if Mercedes gets zero. With the additional point for the fastest race lap for Verstappen or Pérez, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell should get a maximum of one point together. “It will be very close between four or five teams at the front,” predicted Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. During training, his pilots were also within striking distance of the leaders.

For the only German regular pilot, the training session went moderately to well. Nico Hülkenberg was 17th and eleventh in the Haas.

Meanwhile, pictures of lizards on the route caused a stir. It was initially unclear whether it was always the same. “Maybe Godzilla had a child,” said Verstappen’s race engineer after an encounter with a lizard on the track in 2016. “But this time it’s smaller,” said Verstappen in a good mood during the first training session.