Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian GP but retirements in the other two races have left him sixth in the championship and 46 points off runaway leader Charles Leclerc; “At the moment, there is no reason to believe in it,” says Verstappen about second title.
Max Verstappen has insisted there is currently “no reason to believe” in defending his world championship after a second retirement in three races plunged the Dutchman and Red Bull into an early F1 2022 crisis.
While winning the Saudi Arabian GP, Verstappen has failed to finish the two races either side of that and is already 46 points behind Charles Leclerc.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said his Australia DNF on Sunday was down to another fuel related issue, with his admission that it was “totally separate” to the Bahrain problem only likely to concern Verstappen more.
“These kinds of things, if you want to fight for the title, cannot happen,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
The reliability woes – which Red Bull seemed to get a handle on over recent years but have returned following Honda’s exit – aren’t the only constraints on Verstappen’s maiden title defence, for a downbeat Dutchman was also pessimistic after Ferrari’s most dominant day to date.
Even before Verstappen exited the Melbourne race under fumes of smoke, he was nowhere near catching Leclerc and the Ferrari driver would likely, without safety cars, have had a half-a-minute buffer over the Red Bull.
“We need to be faster than them, which we’re not,” said Verstappen. “And have zero problems with the car, which we also don’t have.
“So it’s going to be a big task.”
He added to reporters about a second title: “At the moment, there is no reason to believe in it.”
Red Bull have had issues with their other cars too, with Sergio Perez having also DNF’d in Bahrain while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda have encountered glitches in their newly-Red Bull stamped engines.
“We can’t accept DNFs,” said Horner. “We need to get on top of it.”
Horner also said Verstappen’s frustration was “totally understandable” and called Leclerc and Ferrari “untouchable” in Australia, but is preferring to stay on the positive side regarding title prospects.
“I’d rather fix a fast car, than try and make a reliable and slow one fast,” he noted, possibly with a nod to Mercedes’ slow yet reliable W13.
“We have things in the pipeline that I think will help and we move back to Europe now so we have to put this behind us, address it and move on.”