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Horner: I'd rather fix our car than make a slow one fast

Christian Horner has reflected on Max Verstappen's second retirement of the 2022 F1 season and assessed where Red Bull go from here.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has made clear the outfit "can't accept" retirements, but says he would rather have the task of improving the RB18's reliability than trying to make an inherently slow car fast. Max Verstappen suffered his second DNF in three races at the Australian Grand Prix, again as he followed Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc, much to the frustration of the reigning World Champion . While completely understanding of his driver's anger, and promising plenty of hard work back at the factory before the next round in Imola, Horner is taking some positivity from the fact that Red Bull have a competitive package. "I'd rather fix a fast car than try and make a reliable, slow one fast," Horner told Sky Sports , following Verstappen's win in Saudi Arabia, and Sergio Perez's pole position. "[But] we need to get on top of it. We can't accept DNFs. We need to understand what the issue is, and we've got to address it." Added to the reliability concerns in Australia was a clear pace deficit to Ferrari over one lap and a race distance. "We didn't, as a team, have the pace to beat Charles. That car, on these tyres, on this surface, at this track [in the race] – it was untouchable," he said. "We didn't see [it during practice] on Friday, so it came alive for them."

Verstappen unhappy, Leclerc living the dream

Horner went on to compare Verstappen's admittedly scrappy event against Leclerc's relatively smooth ride. "Max hadn't been happy all weekend with getting the car in the window," Horner added. "The front tyres opened up quite quickly in the race and that's usually the sign that you haven't got your balance totally tuned in . "Charles had the lowest deg[radation]. When your car's in a happy place, you just don't get those problems. "He didn't have the blistering, he didn't have the graining to the extent that others had, and [that] accentuated some of the issues that Max had." With Verstappen now 46 points adrift of Leclerc in the championship standings, Horner knows that Red Bull need to not only get on top of their reliability concerns, but also bring more performance. "We've got things in the pipeline that I think will help," he commented, referring to the team's upgrade plans . "Obviously, we move back to Europe now, and we need to put this behind us, address it and move on."

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