Max Verstappen left Saudi Arabia with a second-place finish and a bonus point for fastest lap in his bag, but the Red Bull driver was anything but happy with his weekend.
A driveshaft failure in the second segment of qualifying set Verstappen all the way back to 15th on Sunday’s grid while teammate Sergio Perez savoured pole.
The Dutchman predictably stormed through the field to find himself second halfway through the race, but progress was hard to come by thereafter.
The two-time world champion was unable to reduce the average gap of five seconds that separated him from Perez, while the Mexican pulled out the stops to keep his advantage intact until the checkered flag.
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Both drivers reported minor issues in the closing laps of the race, with Verstappen complaining of a strange noise and a vibration at the rear of his car that he equated to another driveshaft issue, although the Dutchman’s crews saw nothing in the car’s data to corroborate their driver’s worry.
Speaking after the race, an unhappy Verstappen felt that his car’s reliability problem in qualifying had clearly deprived him in Jeddah of a 37th career win in F.
“We need to do better as a team, we can’t have problems like these,” Verstappen told Dutch broadcaster Viaplay.
“Otherwise this would have been a very different race for me. At the end we limited the damage a little bit, but I should have won here.”
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On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Perez who complained towards the end of the race of a “long” brake pedal, admitted that the team’s RB19, thanks to its current superiority, had yet to be pushed to the limit and into a vulnerable resistance zone.
“We were in a lucky position in Bahrain but otherwise if we had to push to the end, we probably wouldn’t make the race,” Perez revealed.
“So, there are a lot of reliability concerns at the moment but hopefully they don’t hit us anytime soon.
“It’s going to hit us at some point but obviously we need to keep working on that.”
After just two races, all signs point to an intra-team fight for the title at Red Bull between Verstappen and Perez.
The Dutchman can handle a showdown between himself and his teammate, but he does not want the outcome of that battle decided by either driver’s reliability record.
“Everyone is happy but personally, I’m not happy because I’m not here to be second,” Verstappen concluded.
“When you’re fighting for a championship and especially when it looks like it’s just between two cars, we have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable.”
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