Verstappen rues ‘extremely painful’ 18-point loss

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen walks away from his Red Bull. Sakhir March 2022.

Max Verstappen walks away from his Red Bull after retiring from the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sakhir March 2022.

Max Verstappen did not hold back his frustration after his World Championship defence began with a late retirement from the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Favourite going into the weekend to start F1’s new era of regulations with a win, the Dutchman was pipped to pole position by Charles Leclerc – and apart from a brief duel on laps 16 and 17 when they swapped the lead a couple of times, Verstappen was always second best to the Ferrari in the race.

He would have had one last chance to challenge for victory at the restart from a Safety Car period, but at that time was reporting power steering issues in his Red Bull and then quickly fell back through the field – being forced to retire immediately with a separate suspected fuel pump problem.

The frustration for the Drivers’ title-holder was not only restricted to his being one of just three cars not to finish, the others being the other Red Bull of his team-mate Sergio Perez with a similar glitch on the last lap and Pierre Gasly from the ‘sister’ team, AlphaTauri.

Verstappen had been tetchy on the team radio earlier in the race when he felt being ordered not to push his tyres too hard on his out-lap after both of his first two pit-stops had cost him the chance to grab the lead from Leclerc.

“I could have been ahead twice,” Verstappen repeated to Sky F1 when asked about his out-lap frustrations.

“It was not great today. I think we didn’t really show what we could really do, for whatever reason. But there is potential for sure. I mean, otherwise you are not up there. But we already lost a lot of points again, in one race weekend.

“So that’s just really not good. Of course I know with one retirement it’s not over, but I would prefer to have at least 18 points.

“I think the balance was just not as good as on Friday for whatever reason, which you have to understand of course. But a lot of things to analyse, to be honest.”


A protracted conversation with his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase ensued when Verstappen reported his steering problem and he later explained what had transpired.

“Every time I was turning right, it took a while before something was happening,” said Verstappen.

“That’s when my restart was very bad because I wanted to go on throttle but I couldn’t open my wheel because it was stuck.

“So it was very hard out there and a lot of different issues we have to deal with. And this is of course not where you want to have them, on the first race weekend.”

“What we did today was of course extremely painful,” added Verstappen on