Red Bull said goodbye to the 2022 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix with a second position achieved by Sergio Pérez, but the energy drinks team ended up very frustrated due to the abandonment of Max Verstappen when he was stalking the winner of the race, Charles Leclerc.
The Dutch driver was stopped in the first corner on lap 39 by a reliability problem in his RB18, the second time something like this has happened in the first three races of the season, something that raises questions about the power unit of Honda .
The head of Red Bull, Christian Horner , spoke about what happened after carrying out the first investigations in the RB18 of the reigning world champion and shared the first diagnoses.
“It looks like a fuel system problem, different from the tank, that has caused the mishap. Obviously we have quarantined it, the parts will go back to Japan and we will try to understand the problem as quickly as we can,” said the Briton.
“I don’t think it’s related to that,” he said, referring to the Dutchman’s abandonment at Sakhir. “But, like I say, it’s early days. I want all the facts.”
“I prefer to fix a fast car than to try to make a slow one that is reliable. We have to be vigilant, we cannot accept retirements, but we have to understand what the problem is to solve it,” added the Red Bull boss.
As the race got underway, Verstappen reported on the radio that he was smelling something fishy, and those were the first hints of what would eventually lead to his retirement, although the Dutchman had been unable to contend for victory anyway.
“I think as Max [Verstappen] said, we didn’t have the pace to compete with Charles [Leclerc] today, they were in their own league, but it’s frustrating not to get those points in the race.
Regarding the development of the race, Christian Horner recognized the great work of his other driver, Sergio Pérez , who finally got the second position that Verstappen missed.
“I give all the credit to Checo [Perez], he lost a lot with the safety car, but he overtook Lewis [Hamilton] with a big move on the outside, and then also George [Russell],” said the manager of the Austrians. “We didn’t have the pace to beat Charles, that car, with these tires and this asphalt, was untouchable, something we saw on Friday and that has been repeated in the race.”
“Max has not been happy with the car this weekend trying to find the operating window. You can see that the front tires were wearing very quickly in the race, and that is a sign that the car does not have the ideal balance. , revealed Horner .
“Charles had a little less [wear], he wasn’t blistering or graining like we were, and that was accentuated by Max’s setbacks,” said the Briton. “There are some things that can help us, but we have to go back to Europe and put this behind us, investigate and move on.”
Horner knows that it will not be easy to repeat the feat of last season, when Verstappen became world champion for the first time, although he is confident of the comeback: “In the first two races, with Max, we have given up 36 points and, as a team , we’ve missed 50”.
“When you look at that, both the constructors’ and drivers’ championships would be very different. There is still a large percentage of the world championship to be played, but we have to solve these problems quickly,” he said.