Max Verstappen title defense in crisis?  Red Bull driver says 'no reason to believe in title' after last DNF

Max Verstappen title defense in crisis? Red Bull driver says ‘no reason to believe in title’ after last DNF

Max Verstappen won the Saudi Arabian GP but retirement in the other two races puts him sixth in the championship standings and 46 points away from runaway leader Charles Leclerc; “At the moment there is no reason to believe in it,” says Verstappen about second title

Last updated: 22/04/22 11:13 am

Max Verstappen doesn't want to think about the championship battle because he admits it's more important to finish races

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Max Verstappen doesn’t want to think about the championship battle because he admits it’s more important to finish races

Max Verstappen doesn’t want to think about the championship battle because he admits it’s more important to finish races

Max Verstappen has insisted there is currently “no reason to believe” in defending his world championship after a second retirement in three races plunged the Dutchman and Red Bull into an early F1 2022 crisis.

While winning the Saudi Arabian GP, ​​Verstappen did not finish the two races on either side of it and is already 46 points behind Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said his Australian DNF was dealing with another fuel-related problem on Sunday, admitting it was “completely separate” from the Bahrain problem that would likely only further preoccupy Verstappen.

“Things like this, if you want to fight for the title, can’t happen,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 after the race.

The reliability issues – which Red Bull seemed to get a hold of in recent years but have returned after Honda’s departure – are not the only constraints on Verstappen’s first title defense, as a downbeat Dutchman was also pessimistic after Ferrari’s most dominant day up to now.

Even before Verstappen left the Melbourne race amid smoke, he was nowhere near Leclerc and the Ferrari driver would probably have had a half-minute buffer over the Red Bull without safety cars.

Max Verstappen retires after engine problems knocked him off track at Australian GP

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Max Verstappen retires after engine problems knocked him off track at Australian GP

Max Verstappen retires after engine problems knocked him off track at Australian GP

“We have to be faster than them, which we are not,” said Verstappen. “And have zero problems with the car, which we don’t have either.

“So it’s going to be a big task.”

He added to reporters about a second title: “At the moment there is no reason to believe in it.”

Red Bull has also had problems with their other cars, with Sergio Perez also having DNFs in Bahrain, while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda have experienced problems in their recently Red Bull stamped engines.

Christian Horner says Red Bull not sure what went wrong with Max Verstappen's car crash, but need to understand and get over it quickly

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Christian Horner says Red Bull not sure what went wrong with Max Verstappen’s car crash, but need to understand and get over it quickly

Christian Horner says Red Bull not sure what went wrong with Max Verstappen’s car crash, but need to understand and get over it quickly

“We cannot accept DNFs,” Horner said. “We have to get on top of it.”

Horner also said Verstappen’s frustration was “completely understandable” and called Leclerc and Ferrari “untouchable” in Australia, but prefers to stay on the bright side on title prospects.

“I’d rather fix a fast car than try to fix a reliable and slow one fast,” he noted, possibly with a nod to Mercedes’ slow but reliable W13.

“We have things in the pipeline that I think will help and we’re going back to Europe now, so we need to put this behind us, tackle it and move on.”

The season continues with Imola’s Emilia Romagna GP on April 22-24, all live on Sky Sports F1 as the sprint format returns.

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