Red Bull identified the problem that had champion Verstappen concerned

Red Bull arrived at the first date of the Formula 1 season as one of the great candidates, with Max Verstappen very well outlined to defend the title that he won last year in a final as spectacular as it was controversial in Abu Dhabi. However, the Austrian team had a very different start to the championship than expected: three retirements in the first three races, two by the Dutchman himself, due to the lack of reliability of the brand new RB18, which had dazzled in pre-season training. And the frustration began to grow. But it seems that the engineers managed to identify the problem and Helmut Markothe team’s adviser, affirmed that it will be resolved for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix which will take place this weekend in Imola.

“The problem was not in the power unit, but in the fuel supply. The fuel line burst under high pressure. We think that is due to the pouringMarco announced.

In other words, that bounce that single-seaters suffer at high speed on the straight due to the return of ground effect, and that many teams still cannot solve, caused a vacuum in the fuel system, which prevented gasoline from reaching the engine. .

The frustration on the face of Verstappen, who has two retirements in three races and looks difficult to defend the title. PhotoWilliam West/AFP

“Honda told us that we can count on the problem being fixed before the next race”added Marko, excited about the chance that the Red Bulls could be protagonists this weekend at the Italian circuit.

On the first date, in Bahrain, Verstappen left with three laps to go and his partner, Sergio Perezat the beginning of the last turn. “What’s with the battery, what’s this…??!!”the Dutchman asked desperately, while heading to the pits with a car that barely worked. “I got to the hairpin and the engine stalled”the Mexican recounted shortly after his retirement.

Already at that moment, Christian Horner He assured that the problem was the fuel system, but that they did not know exactly what had happened. “We need to take it apart to understand what happened,” the Red Bull boss said.

A week later, in Saudi Arabia, Mad Max got his first victory and Checo finished fourth; although the joy did not last long in the Austrian team’s box.

In the third Grand Prix on the calendar, in Melbourne, Verstappen’s car failed again 20 laps from the end -he even suffered a small fire due to a gas leak when the driver had already gone down- and the champion saw how Charles Leclerc crossed the finish line first with his Ferrari, repeating the victory in Bahrain, and consolidating his advantage in the championship tip.

“I had no pace, and I was just trying to manage the tires to try and get to the finish because it still seemed quite easy to be second. And I knew I couldn’t fight Charles, so there was no point in trying to put pressure on him. But we didn’t even finish the race. career. It’s quite frustrating and unacceptable.”commented the Dutchman, visibly upset.

After that last race, Leclerc was first in the championship with 71 points and a car that does not seem to have any weak points. He is escorted by George Russell (Mercedes) and his partner Carlos Sainz. PĂ©rez -second in the Australian event- is fourth, with 33 units, and Verstappen, sixth (behind Lewis Hamilton) with the 25 that he conquered in Saudi Arabia.

And although the season has only just begun, for the Dutchman the objective of defending the title is -or at least it was, at that time- a utopia. “ANDWe’re miles away so I don’t even want to think about the championship fight right now, I think it’s more important to finish races. Because today was generally just another bad day, again,” he analyzed after passing through Melbourne.

The champion’s frustration set off an alarm within Red Bull.

After retiring in Australia, he returned to the box and we talked everything calmly. But if we don’t start winning soon, Max will be a time bomb.”assured Marko, who knows well the temperament and ultra-competitive personality of his driver.

“He goes over the limit, he wants too much. That didn’t work in Australia in the last sector. We thought that with the championship title there would be a little more peace of mind on his part, but he probably needs another title to avoid entering the classification with so much pressure”analyzed.

Verstappen and Horner talk after retirement in Melbourne.  Photo EFE/EPA/SIMON BAKER

Verstappen and Horner talk after retirement in Melbourne. Photo EFE/EPA/SIMON BAKER

With his words and his gestures, Verstappen made it clear that he wants -he needs- a reliable, fast car worthy of a champion, which puts him on an equal footing with the Ferraris, great dominators at this start of the championship, to try to defend the crown.

At Red Bull they hope that, once the problem in the fuel system has been identified, the RB18s will start to perform on the track to avoid short circuits within the team, keep Mad Max happy and be able to fight for victories from now on. Will they get it in Imola?