By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Max Verstappen’s record run of 10 wins in a row ended in Singapore on Sunday but the Formula One leader had no doubt his Red Bull would be back up to speed in Japan next weekend, and rivals agreed.

The Dutch 25-year-old finished fifth in a race won by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, still stretching his overall lead to 151 points but not by enough to clinch his third title in seven days’ time.

“I think we will be quick in Suzuka,” Verstappen told reporters after a race that also ended his team’s run of 15 successive wins.

“This track is so different to Suzuka, you can’t really relate. It should be good for our car. The track is always super-fun to drive so I hope as soon as we put the car on the track that it’s in a good window.”

Verstappen started 11th on the longer-lasting hard tyres and was running in second place after the leaders pitted during a safety car period and before his subsequent stop dropped him back down the field.

“It was possibly the worst case scenario,” he said of how the safety car panned out. “It was exactly the wrong time to come out.

“I knew this day would come so for me it’s absolutely fine,” he added of the win streak ending.

“Everything needs to be perfect. Like everyone is always saying ‘ah, look how dominant they are, look how easy it is’. But it’s not easy… this weekend we didn’t get a few things right and then you’re on the back foot and you don’t win.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris, who finished second, also had no doubt Singapore — a track Red Bull had flagged up in advance as a tough one for them — was likely to be more of a blip than the start of a trend.

“I think Red Bull are going to be back next weekend so this was a weekend we had to try and do it,” said the Briton.

McLaren boss Zak Brown agreed: “I think this was kind of an anomaly. Not quite sure why they weren’t on the pace as normal. I can’t imagine that’s going to be the new norm, it will be nice if it is,” the American told Sky television.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who had seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton finish third, was keeping his feet on the ground.

“We’ve had those outliers in Singapore in the years where we (Mercedes) almost won every race and then we came here and it wasn’t really good. I expect them to be back,” he said.

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)

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