Helmut Marko has admitted that Red Bull are in for a tough period of time as they try to identify and fix their early-season issues.
While Max Verstappen claimed victory in Saudi Arabia, he has retired from the other two races. Having lost second place late on in Bahrain, the Dutchman was eliminated from the same position in Australia due to a suspected fuel system issue.
The Red Bull advisor spoke about the problem that meant Verstappen was already on the sidelines as the race concluded.
"It leaked petrol, but we don't know where and how," Marko told Sky Sport Germany, revealing that the issue is not a direct repeat of the fuel system error that occurred in Bahrain.
"It just leaked a lot of petrol. That's why we said he should stop immediately – preferably where there is a fire extinguisher."
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Red Bull have work to do to address their problems
With Red Bull having to go off and address more reliability concerns, the other big issue that has held Red Bull back is the weight of the RB18.
The car is understood to be several kilogrammes (some reports suggest seven kilos) over the minimum weight limit of 798kg.
Red Bull have updates on the way which will bring them closer to this limit, and Marko explained the problems are eating into their budget for the season.
With a cost cap of $140 million dollars in place, any extraneous spending to fix problems is money taken away from potential developments.
"We don't just have these reliability problems, which are actually largely unknown to us – we don't know that at all," he commented.
"The other thing is this weight problem. We're well ahead (heavier) of Ferrari there. That's a difficult balancing act, even with the cost cap.
"Difficult times are ahead of us. We were surprised at how fast Ferrari was today."
Marko was full of praise for Ferrari's performance, adding: "They had to pay much less attention to the tyres than we did.
Ferrari was in a class of its own and, unfortunately, we were clearly
behind, even though [Sergio] Perez drove a great race."
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