Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Marko has conceded that there was an issue with the fuel in Max Verstappen’s car ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Verstappen was faced with a litany of issues throughout qualifying and the race in Barcelona. He was forced to abort his final run in qualifying when his DRS failed to open the rear wing, and he was pipped to pole by Charles Leclerc as a result.
He had the same issue in the race while trying to pass George Russell having made a mistake in the early going, and the Red Bull mechanics were busy working on the wing in the build-up to the start.
Compounding this was the fact that they were trying to get the fuel temperature up to the mandated figure, which is now 10 Degrees Celsius below air temperature as opposed to the 18 Degrees Celsius throughout the opening five rounds of the year.
Verstappen had limited practice starts and reconnaissance laps to the grid as a result, but the Austrian outfit managed to get the fuel up to temperature in time to avoid a pit lane start – the same consequence as the one that awaited Aston Martin in Miami for the same issue.
The reason the fuel needed heating was due to the unexpectedly high 36 Degrees before the race, which meant that the fuel needed to be heated to 26, eight higher than the previous mandate.
Dr Marko had indicated on the grid head of the start that some late alterations needed to be made, but he did not specify fuel.
“The high temperatures today required some last-minute adjustments,” he told Sky Germany.
Now, the Austrian admits that there was an issue with the fuel temperature, but it was caught just in time.
“We had overlooked the fact the temperature had been changed. But we noticed it in time and ran the engine to warm up the fuel,” explained Dr Marko.
After the scare, Red Bull claimed a one-two as Verstappen led home Sergio Perez, and they took the lead of both championships as a result owing to Leclerc’s retirement having been leading comfortably, and a mistake from Carlos Sainz that saw him finish fourth.
The Scuderia’s team principal, Mattia Binotto, has queries as to the Red Bull’s legality, as he states that the temperature must always be at the minimum requirement, not heated up at the last second.
“I don’t know what was going on there, of course, but I can imagine it had something to do with the petrol temperatures in the tank, which have to be a maximum of 10 degrees below the ambient temperature,” he affirmed.
“It should be at all times during the event, so not only when the car is going out but when the car is in the garage itself.
“It’s difficult to understand that they were maybe heating up the fuel through a fire-up because it would not explain… as I said, it should be [legal] at all times.”
However, the FIA certified that all was well with the RB18, so the Italian appears ready to leave it at that.
“I can only trust the FIA,” stated Binotto.
Ferrari head to the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend aiming to reclaim control of the championship at Leclerc’s home race.