Red Bull believes a problem with its fuel system led to the late retirements of both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen had been fighting for victory with Charles Leclerc while Perez chased Carlos Sainz for the final podium position before the defending champion coasted into the pits with three laps remaining. Two laps later Perez was pitched into a spin as he suffered a similar reliability issue at Turn 1, with team principal Christian Horner believing the same problem hit both cars.
“It’s obviously hugely disappointing to lose the chance of a podium finish,” Horner said. “It looks suspiciously like the failures are related to each other. It looks like potentially an issue within the fuel system. So it’s very disappointing to lose 30 points.
“I think the positive side for us was we had a very competitive car. I don’t think we quite had the pace of Charles but [there was] some great racing between Max and Charles.
“I think when you look from a season’s perspective, we need to get on top of the issue, whatever it was and come back next weekend.”
Despite the two cars suffering from failures within a matter of minutes of each other, Horner says there had been no warning of any weaknesses prior to Sunday’s race.
“[It came] totally out of the blue. It’s something we haven’t seen previously. We’ll strip the cars, we’ll get into it and understand what the issue was. I suspect it’s something similar between both because the symptoms looked very similar.
“I can’t remember the last time that happened to us but obviously it’s your worst nightmare. It’s hugely disappointing, not only to lose a podium with Max, but then also to lose a podium with Checo as well. He’d done the hard work into Turn 1, he’d held off Lewis [Hamilton]. Anyway, we’ll fight back next weekend and the positive is we’ve got a competitive car. “
Another complaint from Verstappen related to his steering after his final pit stop, and Horner says that was a self-inflicted problem that wouldn’t have impacted his hopes of finishing the race.
“We bent a track rod when the car got dropped at the final pit stop and that made the car inconsistent from left to right, so he did a great job with that and looked like he was managing. It wasn’t a safety concern, it was just uncomfortable to drive.”
Horner added that Pierre Gasly’s retirement for AlphaTauri was not the same issue as the two Red Bull cars, with an MGU-K failure the likely cause for the Frenchman.