Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes that Honda have found a fix to the reliability problems that have plagued his team in the early part of 2022.
Having been running in second for much of the Bahrain Grand Prix behind eventual winner Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen retired from the race due to a fuel vacuum issue shortly after being passed by the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez quickly followed him out of the race with an identical failure.
The Dutchman claimed a thrilling victory in Saudi Arabia, but a different problem affected him in Australia, forcing him to grind to a halt on the exit of Turn Two.
Subsequently, the reigning champion sits in sixth in the Drivers’ Standings behind both George Russell and Sir Lewis Hamilton in the struggling Mercedes car, and he lamented after the race in Melbourne that Red Bull are “already miles behind” championship leaders Leclerc and Ferrari.
Dr Marko agrees that their reliability woes have set Red Bull back a substantial amount, but emphasises that they have quickly dusted themselves off.
“Reliability. We had to take a lot and are now well behind Charles Leclerc. However, we responded quickly to things,” he said, as quoted by the Dutch edition of RacingNews365.com.
The Austrian confirmed team principal Christian Horner’s suspicion that the failure in Australia was fuel-related but, having sent the power unit back to Japan for examination, they have received reassurances from Honda that the issue should not recur.
“The problems we had in Bahrain were different from the problems we had in Australia and also different from the problems we had in winter testing. But according to Honda, we can count on the problems being solved for the next race,” added Dr Marko.
“The problem was not in the engine itself, but in the fuel line. It burst under high pressure. And we think that had to do with the porpoising problem.”
It was thought that the upgrades Red Bull brought to the second test in Bahrain in March had all but eradicated their bouncing – it still seems that the Milton Keynes side are struggling with it the least – but the engagement between the floor and the asphalt is thought to be the root cause of the fuel line failure.
“We do have good control of porpoising, but there are still small movements, mainly due to the way the car ‘landed’ again. We believe this was the main cause of the damage to the fuel line,” Dr Marko added.
Mercedes have taken full advantage of Red Bull’s reliability issues, and they sit second in the Constructors’ Standings – 10 points clear of the four-time champions.