Red Bull suffer ‘brutal’ double DNF | Max: It shouldn’t happen

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Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two from Carlos Sainz after both Red Bulls suffered dramatic late retirements from the first race of the 2022 F1 season; Red Bull have just a week to overcome their reliability issues before next weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Last Updated: 21/03/22 6:05am

Carlos Sainz overtakes Verstappen as he is forced to retire the race due to technical faults in his car.

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Carlos Sainz overtakes Verstappen as he is forced to retire the race due to technical faults in his car.

Carlos Sainz overtakes Verstappen as he is forced to retire the race due to technical faults in his car.

Max Verstappen was critical of Red Bull’s reliability woes after his team confirmed both their retirements from the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix were caused by suspected fuel pump issues.

World champion Verstappen was heading for second behind race-winner Charles Leclerc when he retired with three laps remaining after losing power, before team-mate Sergio Perez appeared to suffer the same fate from third place on the final lap.

The failures left Leclerc to lead a Ferrari one-two from Carlos Sainz, with Lewis Hamilton picking up a surprise podium for off-the-pace Mercedes ahead of his new team-mate George Russell in fourth.

Red Bull's Sergio Perez spins off on the final lap to gift Lewis Hamilton a spot on the podium!

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Red Bull’s Sergio Perez spins off on the final lap to gift Lewis Hamilton a spot on the podium!

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez spins off on the final lap to gift Lewis Hamilton a spot on the podium!

“Of course you can always say problems can happen and you might have a retirement,” Verstappen said. “But 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, but of course I know that with one retirement it’s not over, but I would have preferred to have 18 points.”

  • Leclerc wins F1 opener for Ferrari as Red Bull implode
  • What happened to Max? The story over team radio
  • Highlights: Bahrain GP

Red Bull had entered qualifying on Saturday as favourites for the weekend, with Verstappen having appeared to have more pace than the Ferraris in the final stages of testing last weekend and at practice earlier this week in Bahrain.

Defending champion Max Verstappen explains the problems that led to his retirement in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Defending champion Max Verstappen explains the problems that led to his retirement in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Defending champion Max Verstappen explains the problems that led to his retirement in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Despite it emerging that it was in fact Ferrari who carried a slight advantage, missing out on a significant points haul had appeared an unthinkable prospect for Red Bull.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says it was a 'brutal finish' after both Red Bulls were forced to retire in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner says it was a ‘brutal finish’ after both Red Bulls were forced to retire in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says it was a ‘brutal finish’ after both Red Bulls were forced to retire in the final laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“A brutal finish to that race for us,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “What looked like a decent haul of points suddenly evaporated in the last couple of laps.

“It looks like a similar issue on both cars. We don’t know exactly what it is yet, whether it’s a lift pump, whether it’s a collector or something along those lines, but we’ve got to get into it and understand exactly what’s caused it.”

Verstappen on radio clash: I could have been ahead twice

Verstappen’s retirement capped a frustrating afternoon, during which he also disputed orders from his team over the radio and suffered from steering issues.

The Dutchman felt that after each of the first two rounds of pit stops, each of which saw him pit a lap earlier than Leclerc, if he had been allowed to push harder on his out lap he could have overtaken the Ferrari.

Verstappen vents his frustration over team radio after feeling that he missed an opportunity to pass Leclerc.

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Verstappen vents his frustration over team radio after feeling that he missed an opportunity to pass Leclerc.

Verstappen vents his frustration over team radio after feeling that he missed an opportunity to pass Leclerc.

Verstappen did emerge right behind Leclerc after the first round of stops, with the pair engaging in an epic tussle during which they exchanged overtakes in consecutive laps, before the Ferrari eventually took control.

“I didn’t really push on my out lap,” Verstappen said. “I could have been ahead twice.”

Horner disagreed.

“I think it’s always a fine margin,” the Red Bull team principal said. “He felt that he could have done more and I think that combined with a slightly quicker stop than the Ferrari had put us very close to them. But I think even if we had made the pass, I think their pace was such that with overtaking being a little easier now, they would have overtaken.”

Verstappen and Charles Leclerc battle for the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Verstappen and Charles Leclerc battle for the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen and Charles Leclerc battle for the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Horner explained after the race that the steering issue had been completely separate to the one that forced his retirement, and had potentially been caused when the car was dropped from his final pit stop.

“It was not even that the steering wheel just got heavy,” Verstappen said. “It was just almost impossible to steer and the faster I was going, there was a delay, so every time I was turning right it took a while before anything was happening.

“It was very hard out there, a lot of different issues we had to deal with and this is of course not what you want to have on the first race weekend. The pace wasn’t amazing. The balance was just not as good as on Friday for whatever reason, which we have to understand. Just a lot of things to analyse.”

Perez: Great team will get to the bottom of it

Despite suffering his own agonising retirement, Perez backed the team to overcome their issues in time for next weekend’s Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.

Sergio Perez is confident his Red Bull team will get to the bottom of their issues after a mechanical failure on the last lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Sergio Perez is confident his Red Bull team will get to the bottom of their issues after a mechanical failure on the last lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez is confident his Red Bull team will get to the bottom of their issues after a mechanical failure on the last lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“I could feel a couple of laps before the end that I was losing a bit of power, the engine was cutting off at times, so we knew there was an issue, we knew what happened to Max, and unfortunately it just happened on the last lap,” Perez said.

“We were basically on the podium, we hold back Lewis, which was really tough, he was really fast at the end, and a bit of a shame really that we didn’t get that result.

“We are a great team and I really believe in them and I’m sure we will get to the bottom of it. It’s a very disappointing day, a very disappointing start for our season but we know how long Formula 1 years can be.”

Follow the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sky Sports

Sky Sports F1 is your home for every race this season, and it continues with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix next weekend.

We will have build-up right through the week before covering all the action live from Friday’s first practice at 2pm with the second practice session following at 5pm.

Saturday’s practice is at 2pm with qualifying at 5pm before Sunday’s race starts at 6pm in the UK. Sky Sports F1 will be on air from 4.30pm to build up to the action.

As always, you can also follow the action online on the Sky Sports App.

The Formula 1 season continues on Friday on Sky Sports F1 with the Saudi Arabian GP. Sunday’s race starts at 6pm. Find out more & subscribe.

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