Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen admitted his Singapore Grand Prix was “incredibly messy”, after only finishing seventh on a day when he could have clinched a second straight title.
Verstappen was already down on eighth on the grid thanks to a team misjudgement over fuel levels that cost him his final Q3 lap.
His problems then increased with a poor start that dropped him to 12th.
“I dropped the clutch and had anti-stall,” Verstappen explained to Sky.
“So we need to analyse why that happened, but then of course you lose a lot of spots.”
Verstappen managed to get back up to fifth during the first part of the race, before badly flat-spotting his tyres just after the final safety-car restart while trying to pass Lando Norris’s McLaren for fourth.
“I tried to pass a few people, some worked but then you get stuck in a little bit of a train, everyone has their tyres quite up to temperature so it’s quite hard to follow,” Verstappen said of his initial recovery.
“We were a bit lucky, some people had a few mistakes.
“We were in fifth, tried to go for fourth to pass Lando.
“As soon as I got alongside him I braked not even late, but I bottomed out. I was really struggling a lot there with bottoming and being off-line was probably even more bumpy.
“As soon as I braked, the front wheels jumped in the air and that was it, I just went straight on.
“So then I had to box again because of the massive vibrations, put new tyres on and come from last back into the points.
“But it’s not where we want to be. But already from yesterday, you put yourself in a spot like that and it can either really work and you can drive back to the front or it’s just very frustrating like we had.”
He was eventually able to recover to seventh place, passing Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin on the final lap.
“It’s of course better than eighth but it’s not what I’m here for, not with a car like that and what we showed in practice,” said Verstappen.
“It’s incredibly messy.”
Red Bull still won the race with Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez, who ended a three-month struggle to fend off Charles Leclerc for victory.
In contrast to his anger after the qualifying error, Verstappen appeared relatively sanguine during his post-race media interviews, smiling and sometimes laughing slightly as he discussed just how bad his night had been.
But asked whether he would be glad to fly out of Singapore, Verstappen replied: “I will be”.