Christian Horner has said that Max Verstappen's frustrations after retiring from the Australian Grand Prix are completely understandable. Verstappen had looked on for a comfortable second-place finish and another 18 points in the bag, but his car suddenly slowed with 20 laps remaining in Sunday's 58-lap race. Pulling over on the exit of Turn 1, his stoppage was his second mechanical problem in the first three races of the season and is proving hugely costly in the Drivers' Championship, as the reigning World Champion now trails Charles Leclerc by 46 points. "It's totally understandable, his frustration. That was a really, really disappointing result not to finish the race," Horner explained to Sky Sports F1 .
Horner suspects fuel supply issues for Verstappen
While the issue appeared to be engine-related, with flames visible at the rear of the RB18, Horner said it was more likely to be linked to the car's fuel supply. "We don't know what the issue is yet. I don't think it's actually engine-related," he said. "I think it might be a fuel issue, but we need to get the car back. We need to be able to look at what exactly happened. "Until we get the car back, we don't have the data [or the] info. [It's] pretty frustrating." A fuel supply issue would be a similar problem to what forced Verstappen out of the season opener in Bahrain.
Ferrari "in a league of their own" in Australia
With the Dutch driver explaining that he was never going to be able to get the better of Leclerc for the race victory, Horner said the retirement was doubly disappointing as second represented a strong points finish. "As Max said, we didn't have the pace to race Charles today," he added. "They were in a league of their own. It's frustrating not to be bagging those points." Red Bull were seen working on the front of Verstappen's car before the race, having also made gearbox-related changes overnight, but Horner doubted these were the root of the problem. "I don't think it's related to that but, as I say, it's all premature until we get the car back," he said. "It's difficult just making a hypothesis – I'd rather know the facts."