Red Bull make ‘fragile’ warning as they admit confusion over RB19 balance change

Max Verstappen claimed the first win of the season, in what was also his first victory at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Last weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was a sensational one for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez having claimed a comfortable 1-2 for the Milton Keynes-based team.

If that wasn’t enough, the Red Bull duo also locked-out the front row in qualifying, further emphasising the Austrians dominance.

Verstappen in particular was untouchable come qualifying onwards, with nobody having come close to toppling the reigning world champion.

He certainly started his title defence perfectly at the Bahrain International Circuit; however, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the constructors’ champions.

READ: Ferrari boss makes Red Bull and Aston Martin claim

Red Bull had been phenomenal during pre-season testing in Bahrain, but bizarrely ran into a spot of bother during the opening two practice sessions at the Grand Prix.

Verstappen complained of balance issues with the RB19 during the sessions, something the side didn’t experience during testing.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has since revealed that the team “still don’t understand” why the drivers struggled with the balance of the car during free practice, given that it was balanced sublimely during testing.

“The chassis that we have has a lot of potential,” said Marko. 

Article continues below

“But you could still see that the car had changed a lot from testing to the first race, without us changing anything.

“We don’t know why, we still don’t understand it to this day. So we have to find out what happened there. It happened to other teams too, but it was massive for us.

“There was nothing, no upgrades or anything else, everything was still the same. It shows how fragile the whole thing with the new tires is when one of the parameters isn’t quite where it should be.

READ: Helmut Marko comments on retirement plans

“But fortunately we have a very experienced group of technicians, most of whom have been with us for 15 years. And the experience and know-how of our drivers is also very helpful. Both are very experienced and give detailed information, which makes it easier makes things clear when you have problems.”

Despite the odd balance issues, Red Bull’s 1-2 didn’t come as a surprise to Marko, who believes “it was obvious” that the Austrians had the victory in the bag.

“Yes, because if you look at the long runs [from Friday], it was obvious. If Leclerc had stayed in the race, he would have distance might have been a bit different,” Marko said.