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Ferrari curious after Verstappen narrowly escaped pit lane start in Spain

Max Verstappen, winner of the Spanish Grand Prix, had earlier avoided starting the event from the pit lane by a narrow margin, and it has transpired that Red Bull's pre-race problem was not only DRS-related.

Spanish Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen was just eight seconds away from starting the race from the pit lane. The World Champion driver moved above Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet on the all-time wins list when he secured his 24th F1 victory in Barcelona on Sunday. He did so via a trip across the gravel and with Drag Reduction System (DRS) issues threatening to leave him stuck behind the rear wing of George Russell until the chequered flag. But his eventful Spanish Grand Prix would have started from the pit lane had his car left the garage just eight seconds later in the build-up to the race.

Red Bull point to DRS, but RB18 had problems more complex

When asked to shed light on the pre-race close-call, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner pointed to those DRS issues as he told members of the media, including RacingNews365.com : "We had to work on that. As a result, we got to the starting grid late." That proved no ideal preparation for Verstappen, as he was wheeled into his starting box with a disadvantage over his rivals, even if this was not evident from the outside. "He had no information about the balance of the car and was unable to make a practice start," Horner continued. "But in the end, he had a good start." However, while Red Bull were battling DRS gremlins, Verstappen's delayed arrival to the grid appears to have been for another reason, unrelated to the rear wing of the RB18.

Red Bull's fuel temperature problems

Instead, Red Bull had to stall their exit from the garage due to fuel temperature problems, the same issues suffered by Aston Martin ahead of the Miami Grand Prix. Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel were both forced to start that race from the pit lane, but Verstappen, with just eight seconds to spare, escaped that punishment in Spain. Ultimately, the fuel in Verstappen's RB18 was too cold. As per F1's lengthy rulebook, the fuel temperature must remain within 10 degrees of the outside temperature, a temperature measured and communicated to teams by the FIA ​​two hours prior to the race start. A breach of this regulation can result in disqualification from the Grand Prix, a risk Red Bull were not willing to take as they held Verstappen in the garage for as long as they could afford to.

Ferrari 'curious' to hear from FIA on matter

Red Bull's decision to keep Verstappen in the garage did not go unnoticed, with Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto having been asked to comment on whether he had any concerns over the legality of the RB18 in Barcelona, or whether waiting for cold fuel to reach temperature was permitted. "I don't know exactly what happened at the time there, but I can imagine it had to do with the fuel temperatures," Binotto stated. "I don't think trying to heat up the fuel tank is sufficient [with the regulations] because the fuel should, at all times during the event, be within 10 degrees. I can only trust the FIA." Pondering the performance gains Red Bull could make by running a colder fuel through their engine, he added: "I am pretty sure the FIA are comfortable, as they checked. We should ask the FIA. I would be curious."

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