Max Verstappen concedes it will be a “big task” to beat Charles Leclerc to the title following a rocky start to his defence.
The Dutchman has been unable to finish two of the three races so far this season as reliability issues with the Red Bull car have seen him take just 25 points so far.
What’s worse for Verstappen is in both races that he DNFed, he was challenging Charles Leclerc for the race win and it seems at this early stage those two are the lead contenders for the title.
While there are still a possible 20 races left in the 2022 season, Verstappen is already facing a tough ask to mount a real defence of his World Championship.
Following his engine issues in Melbourne, the 24-year-old finds himself 46 points behind his title rival Leclerc and it is not only reliability issues that Red Bull seem to be struggling with, but also pace against the Ferrari.
“We are already so far down in the championship that from now onwards basically you first need to be faster than them (Ferrari), which we’re not, and zero problems with the car which we also don’t have,” Verstappen said, as reported by the Express.
Max has been forced to stop on track 😔 https://t.co/5SFZzpVZ2P
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) April 10, 2022
“So it’s going to be a big task. It was just a terrible race, just no pace. I couldn’t push because the tyres were just getting destroyed.”
It is not just Verstappen having issues with his team-mate Sergio Perez also being forced to retire in the opening race of the season.
However, Verstappen’s team principal Christian Horner tried to see the lighter side of the issue despite trailing Ferrari by 49 points in the Constructors’ Championship.
“I’d rather fix a fast car than try to make a reliable and slow one fast,” Horner told The Race.
“None of them [the issues] have been related, so obviously need to understand those and address them quickly.
“Even on a day when we weren’t as quick as Ferrari, we had a guaranteed second place in the first two races.
“With Max we’ve given up 36 points for the team, and for the team [overall] 50 points.
“When you look at that, both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship would be a lot different.
“There’s still a huge percentage of the championship to run but we need to get on top of the issues quickly.”
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