Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has revealed that the mechanical failure Max Verstappen suffered at the Australian Grand Prix was unrelated to the one he had in Bahrain.
The Honda-manufactured Red Bull powertrains have endured a tough start to the 2022 season, with six failures now occurring over the course of the first three races between Red Bull and AlphaTauri.
Verstappen was running a comfortable second behind Charles Leclerc when he smelled something strange emanating from the back of his Red Bull in Melbourne, and he ground to a halt shortly thereafter.
The Milton Keynes side sent the engine back to Japan to be examined by Honda after team principal Christian Horner posited that the issue might have been fuel-related, and Dr Marko confirms that it was.
“We were able to clarify the cause of the fuel leak in Max’s car,” he said, as quoted by RacingNews365.com.
It is therefore distinguishable from the vacuum problem both Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez retired from in the opening round of the season, and the Austrian indicates that it is likely also more complicated.
“The matter is very complex. The problem is absolutely different from that of Bahrain,” Dr Marko added.
The Dutchman was running a considerable margin behind Leclerc, with Red Bull seemingly unable to find any sort of riposte to the imperious pace of the Scuderia.
This, coupled with wretched reliability in the early going this season, leaves the reigning world champion with doubts as to whether he can defend his title.
“Being already so far down in the championship, I think it’s 46 points, from now on we need to be ahead,” he said.
“We need to [be] quicker, which we are not at the moment. And we need to be reliable, which we are also not. So there’s a lot of things to work on.”
“I don’t even think about [the title]. At the moment, there is no reason to believe in it.”
Red Bull sit third in the Constructors’ Championship, 49 points adrift of leaders Ferrari and 10 points behind Mercedes.