Come the end of the 2022 season, the Oracle Red Bull Racing team will perhaps look back at the Bahrain Grand Prix with pain after both Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez retired in the closing laps whilst on course for top four finishes.
Verstappen was running a strong second and was fighting with eventual race winner Charles Leclerc for much of the day, but his RB18 developed a number of problems including issues with his brakes and steering, before a fuel problem ended his race with just three laps to go.
The reigning World Champion was naturally disappointed with the result at the Bahrain International Circuit, but he knows there are plenty of races to go across the season to recover the eighteen points he lost.
“We were feeling quite competitive throughout the weekend so the result today was very unfortunate for us,” said Verstappen. “The problems started initially with the brakes, they were overheating so I had to lift off and as a result I lost pace and had to let Charles go.
“After that, there were still a few issues with car balance and after my final pit stop my steering wheel was locked. That made it very difficult to drive so defending from Carlos at the re-start wasn’t easy.
“The final issue looked like a fuel system problem, which is why I had to retire and it was extremely painful for both our cars to DNF. We don’t know exactly what went wrong yet but we’ll definitely analyse the data and make sure we learn from it.
“At the end of the day, motorsport is unpredictable and these things can happen, this is race one, we have plenty more ahead of us.”
“We didn’t manage to get the result we were hoping for” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Pérez was running fourth before Verstappen’s retirement and was on course to inherit the final spot on the podium as a result of the Dutchman’s demise, but it was not to be for the Mexican either as another fuel issue saw him retire at the start of the final lap.
He had been looking strong despite a poor start, with the Mexican being forced to pass both Kevin Magnussen and Lewis Hamilton to run fourth before looking to close the gap on Scuderia Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr.
However, heading into turn one on the final lap, Pérez saw his podium opportunity disappear as his engine locked up, spinning the Mexican’s RB18 and ending his evening, much to the horror of his team.
“It was going to be a great start to the season but unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get the result we were hoping for,” said Pérez. “It is very disappointing to not be able to execute the result we wanted; we had the podium in our pocket until the last lap.
“A couple of laps before the end I could feel I was losing power, we knew there was an issue and we knew what had happened with Max. I had a similar issue to his car, at the moment we think it was a fuel system problem and basically the engine just stopped.
“It is tough to digest but we are going to look for the positives and come back stronger next week in Jeddah. I am sure we will get to the bottom of the problem, we are a great Team and I really believe in them.
“Today is very disappointing and an unfortunate start to our season but a year is a long time in Formula 1 and we’re only one race in.”