Reigning F1 drivers’ world champion Max Verstappen is livid after both he and his teammate, Sergio Perez, failed to finish the opening race of the season in Bahrain on Sunday. The two Red Bull cars had the worst possible start to the season after retiring in the closing laps due to reliability issues.
Verstappen and Perez qualified at second and fourth place respectively, with each of them following the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. While the Italian cars maintained a clear advantage throughout the race, the Red Bulls were able to stay competitive just a few seconds behind. In fact, after the first pit stops, Verstappen was able to take the lead from Leclerc a few times, only to be overtaken again just a few corners later.
In the end, a 2-4 finish would have been a great result for Red Bull, considering the engine braking and power steering issues that Verstappen was wrestling with for most of the race. Alas, things went completely downhill with three laps to go as Verstappen was forced to retire after noticing a loss of power. Two laps later, Perez was sent into a spin in the middle of the track as his own engine gave out.
The race finished with the two Ferraris in front, followed by the two Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who were gifted two places after the retirements. There were zero points for Red Bull and the world champion is not holding back about his frustration.
“I think at this level, after already having so much information with engines and stuff, it shouldn’t happen. We already lost a lot of points again in one race weekend, so that’s just really not good,” said Verstappen after the race, as quoted by The Sun.
Of all people, he knows very well how important it is to secure as many points as possible at every opportunity after winning the championship by a very narrow margin last season. “Of course I know that with one retirement it’s not over, but I would have preferred to have 18 points,” he said.
The Red Bulls seem to at least have a pace advantage over the Mercedes powered cars, but that means nothing if their cars can’t finish the upcoming races. Incidentally, Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri, from Red Bull’s sister team, also retired after going up in flames in the closing stages of the race.
Team principal Christian Horner also lamented the fact that they lost out on what could have been “a decent haul of points.”
“It looks like a similar issue on both cars. We don’t know exactly what is it yet, whether it’s a lift pump, a collector or something along those lines,” he added. They now only have a week to figure things out before having a go again in Saudi Arabia next weekend. Meanwhile, Mercedes also need to figure out how they can improve their pace.