Red Bull team principal Christian Horner labeled the early retirements for Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen as “brutally frustrating” after showing strong speed at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Friday’s long run pace had seen Red Bull appear to be a match for Ferrari and Mercedes, but Verstappen was forced to start from 15th place after crashing in qualifying. The Dutchman collided with Lewis Hamilton at the start of lap two as they fought over 10th and suffered a puncture, while Ricciardo – running fourth – stopped on track moments later with a loss of power, resulting in both cars failing to finish.
“A brutally frustrating race for us because we had again another very competitive race car,” Horner said. “So to lose Daniel with what looks like a sudden power loss to the car, which looks like a failure within the energy store, on lap two when he was already catching Kimi [Raikkonen] and looking in good shape, was extremely frustrating.
“A few corners prior to that we lost Max, effectively – he had a fantastic first lap, as usual with him some aggressive moves. He then managed to get on to the gearbox of Lewis, got a great exit onto the straight at the start of the second lap, and got a good tow, went for the inside line – also had Fernando [Alonso] there to deal with as well – made the corner but unfortunately there was contact on the exit of Turn 1 and that resulted in an immediate puncture.
“Had it not happened in Turn 1, and he hadn’t had to drive the car back as a three-wheeler, that is ultimately what damaged the gearbox. And therefore, we decided to retire the car because we were losing hydraulic pressure rapidly. To have both cars retired within two laps is hugely frustrating.”
Horner believes the very early stages of the race had shown Red Bull to be capable of taking the fight to both Mercedes and Ferrari and challenge for victory.
“Ifs, buts and maybes, but we could see throughout the weekend our pace was good, and it was stronger in the race than it was in qualifying. Daniel commented that even in the two laps that he was able to do, he was able to close pretty comfortably on Kimi.
“And Max, the feeling he was getting from the car, the fact that he was on the same tire he used to line up and pass Lewis, showed that the potential was really there.”