Max Verstappen had plenty of criticism for his Red Bull team after the Bahrain Grand Prix, and not just over the problems that caused both its cars to retire late in the race.
The defending champion had enjoyed a tough fight with Charles Leclerc but looked set to settle for second place after suffering a steering issue before a late safety car period. Verstappen was unable to attack Leclerc on the restart and then was hit by a loss of power that eventually saw him coast into the pits and retire with four laps remaining.
“Sometimes you might not get the balance you would like but still, we had a bit of a fight even though strategy-wise we could’ve done a better job — be more aggressive on the out-lap for example, be ahead and then you never know what might happen,” Verstappen said. “We had good top speed all race. But after that I had that steering issue, brake issues as well — they were overheating as well if I wanted to attack. After the fight with Charles I had to let him go.
“The steering issue, it was not easy to drive as I had no feeling of what the car was doing because it was not natural. You can lose power steering or whatever, and it’s just heavy. But this was like it was almost stuck in some places, so really difficult to drive.
“Of course the big problem was what happened afterwards — it looked like there was no fuel coming to the engine and basically everything just turned off, so I rolled back into the pit lane. It’s not what you want, especially after positive test days and a positive weekend and it looked like until the issues we had, we would be in second place.
“That would’ve been still a good result, 18 points, Checo (Sergio Perez) fourth, but to retire with both cars at the end of the race is very disappointing. The pace is there — we fought for pole, we fought for the race win. That’s not the problem, we just need to understand the issues we had today and work on the car continuously to improve.”
Verstappen says he was showing maturity with his approach to the race, as he felt it was important to score big points in the opening round — which is what makes the DNF even more painful.
“It’s just disappointing. You always say to yourself and the team as well, you’re here to score points, doesn’t matter if it’s first or second in the first race. You could see at Turn 1 I didn’t risk much, also the fighting with Charles, it was all clean.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 20, 2022
“I’m happy with the second here, but to lose so many points for the team is very disappointing, because sometimes when it can be really tight (it can be costly).”
Asked about his angry radio messages criticizing the team’s strategy, Verstappen said there was a lot more that Red Bull could have done better in how it handled the race.
“I’ve been angrier before. I don’t hold back — I say what I think in the car. I was not happy with what we were doing or the balance of the car I had, the strategy. It was not necessarily directed to GP (race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase) — I have a really good relationship with him but he’s the only one I can talk to. We have to analyze quite a few things.”