Max Verstappen raises F1 title doubts after Red Bull suffer at Bahrain GP

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Max Verstappen has raised doubts over whether he’ll be able to retain his F1 title following Red Bull’s difficult start to the new season on Sunday. The 24-year-old beat Lewis Hamilton to glory back in December. Yet he was unable to get the new campaign off to a winning start and now faces an uphill task to repeat the success of last term.

Sunday marked the start of the new F1 season with many expecting Verstappen to make his way onto the podium.

However, the 24-year-old and Red Bull struggled in the opening race to damage their hopes of securing title glory once again.

Verstappen was, for most of the race, able to keep pace with eventual winner Charles Leclerc.

Yet he started to complain about issues with his Red Bull RB18 and the Dutchman was eventually forced to retire from the race, with Leclerc, Carlos Sainz Jr and Hamilton then finishing first, second and third respectively.

And Verstappen, speaking after the race, has now admitted the dropped points have dealt an early blow to his hopes of more F1 glory.

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“But to lose so many points for the team is also very disappointing, because for the championship where sometimes it can be really tight until the end, these are very important points,” he said.

Verstappen insisted he could barely steer during the race in Bahrain, while also labelling the afternoon as ‘very frustrating’.

“I mean, what happened at the end is obviously very frustrating, but of course before that, quite a few issues,” he said.

“First of all the balance was off.

“I didn’t have the same feeling as on Friday on the long runs, so that was a bit disappointing.

“Then suddenly my steering, I don’t know what happened to that, it was just completely locked and the faster I was going, I could barely steer.

“So it was not easy on the restart to defend from Carlos.

“But then I was still in second with that big issue so you think, okay, with all these issues that I’ve had today, second would be a good result.

“And then suddenly I had to retire, everything just switched off.

“It looked like a fuel pump or issue, there was no fuel coming to the engine.

“Of course these things, you don’t want them to happen and it’s very painful for the team as well that both cars retired. We need to look into everything.”

With Sergio Perez also retiring from the race, Red Bull chief Christian Horner admitted they would investigate what went wrong internally.

“It looks like a similar issue on both cars,” he told Sky Sports.

“We don’t know exactly what it is yet, whether it’s a lift pump, whether it’s a collector, or something along those lines, but we’ve got to get into it and understand exactly what caused it.

“The steering issue [on Max’s car] was when the car got dropped on the final stop, we think it tweaked a track rod, so that’s why it was slightly different left to right.

“It was a brutal finish to that race for us.

“What looked like a decent haul of points for us evaporated in the last couple of laps there.”

Red Bull now have just a week to get things right next time out.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be held next week, just the second-ever time it’s been held in Jeddah.

Hamilton came top of the standings, with Verstappen second and Valtteri Bottas finishing third. 



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