Max Verstappen tells Red Bull critics to 'suck on an egg'

SUZUKA, Japan -- Max Verstappen told his rivals to "suck on an egg" if they truly believe Red Bull's drop in performance at last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix was linked to an FIA technical directive.

One week after qualifying 11th in Singapore and struggling to fifth place in the race, Verstappen took pole position for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix by 0.581s.

The significant margin underlined the advantage Verstappen still holds over the rest of the field, and appears to rule out a theory that Red Bull's poor performance at the street circuit was linked to a rule clarification by the sport's governing body.

Asked if he experienced any reoccurrence of the issues Red Bull suffered in Singapore, which are believed to be setup related, Verstappen said: "Zero. Singapore didn't happen for us!"

Ahead of last weekend's race, the FIA issued a technical directive aimed at clamping down on flexing bodywork that could be engineered to gain an advantage and subvert existing regulations banning moveable body work.

At the time Red Bull said no changes had been made to its car as a result of the technical directive and Verstappen issued a straight response to anyone who may have suggested there was a link.

"Honestly, we had a bad weekend," he said. "Then people start saying it's all because of the technical directive, but I think they can go suck on an egg.

"From my side, I was just very fired up to have a good weekend here and make sure we were strong."

In qualifying at Suzuka, Verstappen held a 0.581s advantage over Oscar Piastri in second, a 0.773s advantage over his teammate Sergio Perez in fifth and a 1.031s advantage over the fastest Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton in seventh.

He said he made changes to his car after Saturday's practice session which helped to open up the gap to McLaren's drivers in second and third.

"It's always difficult to judge [what the gap will be to rivals]," Verstappen said. "After final practice I thought they were quite close, but luckily we made some tiny adjustments and it helped it out a bit.

"And then in sector one, once you feel very confident in the car, you can push it a bit more and that's what happened in qualifying."