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F1’s Max Verstappen says the Singapore race is ‘very tough’ but he’s thrilled about its return

After a two-year hiatus thanks to the pandemic, the Singapore Grand Prix — Formula One’s first ever night race — is roaring back this Sunday on a circuit that Oracle Red Bull’s Max Verstappen says he’s thrilled about.

“We’re always very excited to come here because the track is amazing to drive,” the defending champion told CNBC’s John Patrick Ong on Wednesday.

Though the Belgian-Dutch racer, who’s racing for the Netherlands, said Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit is “always a challenge,” it’s one he looks forward to.

“It is a very tough track just because it’s a street circuit … and you have to always leave a bit more margin than on [a] normal track.” 

F1’s street circuits are generally bumpier than regular race tracks and have more corners. Of all the F1 circuits, Marina Bay’s 3-mile loop has the second-highest number of corners, with at least one safety car deployed in every race to date.

Max Verstappen wins third place and celebrates on the podium during the Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sept. 22, 2019. The Singapore Grand Prix is set to return as the Formula One’s only night race on Oct. 2.
Clive Mason | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

“Normally, it’s one of the tougher or toughest ones on the calendar,” Verstappen said, but it’s one he will “try to win.”

Referring to the city-state’s humidity, he added that he isn’t looking forward to “[losing] a lot of fluid.”

“We haven’t been here in a while… so it will be very interesting for us to understand the track [and] how much has changed.”

The No.1 Red Bull driver boasts a 116-point lead at the top of the standings, and has a mathematical chance of winning the championship.

Hungarian Grand Prix hiccup

But things haven’t always been smooth sailing for Verstappen.

In July’s Hungarian Grand Prix, he had to start at the 10th position after a power unit hiccup during the qualifying session. In spite of that, he managed to pull off a victory.

“As a team, I think we made all the right calls, in terms of when to pit, and we jumped a few people,” he said.

Max Verstappen won the race at Hungarian Aramco Formula One Grand Prix on July 31, 2022, in Mogyorod, Hungary. Though he had to start in the 10th position after a power unit hiccup during the qualifying session, he managed to pull off a victory.
Robert Szaniszló | Nurphoto | Getty Images

In his 42nd lap, Verstappen did a 360-degree spin, which initially cost him the lead to Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.

“You have to just try and stay patient and just wait for your moment again, and we got back into the lead and we could win the race,” he said.

“It was definitely really satisfying. Because when I woke up that day, I didn’t expect that I was going to win the race.”

Ground effect, a car design feature that F1 outlawed in 1982, was reintroduced this year. It enables drivers to follow the car in front of them more closely, allowing for more exciting wheel-to-wheel racing.

While Verstappen said he had to readjust to the newer designs at the beginning of the season, his grip on the car has been improving.

“I think you could see already on quite a few tracks that there was a bit more overtaking, a bit more racing. And I think that’s what we want to see.”

‘Sometimes second’s OK’

The Red Bull Racing team announced a multi-year partnership with cryptocurrency exchange company Bybit in February.

Verstappen drew similarities between the crypto industry and the world of F1, saying, “in a way, it’s always about risk management as well.”

“In a way that’s the same for a market right? Of course you try to make a lot of money but sometimes actually settling for maybe a safer bet can actually work out better in the long term.”

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates his win on the podium after the Italian Grand Prix on Sept. 11, 2022 in Monza, Italy.
Dan Istitene – Formula 1 | Formula 1 | Getty Images

F1, which involves cars racing over 200mph, has always been known as a risky contest. But Verstappen expressed faith in his team’s car.

“I know that I have a car to fight for the championship, so you don’t always need to risk everything,” he said.

“Sometimes second’s OK, instead of trying to go for the ultimate goal of winning a race, it’s all about always scoring points.”

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