Red Bull have ‘two or three’ problems, reliability is just one

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen points where he wants a marshal to spray fire retardant. Australia April 2022

Helmut Marko says reliability is just one problem facing Red Bull at present – their RB18 is also lagging behind the Ferrari and is too heavy.

For the second time in three races Max Verstappen recorded a DNF, the reigning World Champion retiring from the Australian Grand Prix while running second.

It was a disappointing outcome, the Dutchman having lost 36 points as he was also P2 in Bahrain when he retired.

He has two DNFs to his name while his team-mate Sergio Perez has one, the Mexican driver also unable to finish in Bahrain.

But while that is a pressing concern for Red Bull, it is not the only issue the team are facing as their RB18 was unable to stick with the Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari around the Albert Park street circuit.

And aside from lacking in pace, it was also chewing up the tyres a lot faster than the Ferrari.

“There are two or maybe three different things at play,” Marko told Servus TV.

“Firstly, the reliability problems, which we hardly had last year, but the lag behind Ferrari was also alarming today.

“They just controlled the pace and did that without graining. If Max stepped on, Leclerc could react easily.”

He added: “We were negatively surprised by the speed of Ferrari. They had almost no graining and we already had after a few laps.

“Ferrari can find a good balance with the car more easily.”

And then, of course, there is the weight of the car.

The RB18 is said to be one of the heaviest on the grid and that has cost them lap time.

“We are clearly heavier than the Ferrari,” Marko said. “I think we have a weight handicap of about 10 kilograms.

“Converted to lap time, that equates to about three tenths per lap.”

The simple solution to that is for Red Bull to lose weight, but Marko says that means innovation, trying new things, and all of those come with a price tag at a time when F1 has a budget cap in place.

He continued: “But lowering the weight is expensive. It’s, to start with, a financial issue and secondly it is also related to reliability, so it is a difficult split due to the budget ceiling. We are facing difficult times.”

Red Bull will be heading to the next race, at Imola, with an upgrade that will also reduce the weight of the car.

 

“We will indeed get an upgrade,” said Marko. “If it functions as well as the first updates and if we can reduce the weight, we can put that package on a par with Ferrari.

“But more importantly, we solve the reliability problems. You can have a fast car but if you don’t get to the finish, it’s of no use.”

Red Bull trail Ferrari by 49 points in the Constructors’ Championship with Perez their best-placed driver, P4 in the Drivers’ standings.

 

'Frustrating and unacceptable' race for Verstappen

Max Verstappen had his second retirement in three races and he wasn't happy, while Sergio Perez took P2 in Melbourne.