Max Verstappen’s hopes of his Formula 1 debut victory at the Marina Bay Street Ciruit are limited for the time being. The expectations of the previously dominant Dutchman were not too high when he arrived in Singapore. Before qualifying this Saturday (3 p.m. CEST/Sky), Verstappen drew an extremely sobering interim conclusion: “We are even worse than we expected.”

Based on the impressions from Friday’s practice session, pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix seems to come only from Ferrari. Charles Leclerc took first place in the first session, Carlos Sainz in the second. “The Ferraris look fast,” Verstappen also had to say.

He has never been able to win in Singapore. Last year his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez achieved it. He too was unable to convince on the opening day of the 15th Grand Prix this season after Red Bull’s 14 victories – 12 by Verstappen, 2 by Pérez. “We are simply too far away,” said the World Cup runner-up.

“We are struggling with the balance of the car,” explained Verstappen. The problem: The aerodynamic superiority of the current Red Bull model does not come into play on the narrow street circuit with many slow corners.

An early title win in the constructors’ championship seems out of reach. Red Bull would have to take the first two places, Mercedes with its two British drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell would have to come away empty-handed. If Verstappen or Pérez also got the additional point for the fastest lap, Hamilton and Russell would not be able to get more than one point together. In the drivers’ classification, Verstappen’s third triumph in a row with 145 points ahead of Pérez is only possible in Suzuka, Japan, in just over a week.