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Red Bull have reliability fix on 'important weekend' for Verstappen

Max Verstappen has been left with a mountain to climb in his fight to defend his World Championship status, but Red Bull are now confident that they boast the fix for their reliability concerns.

Red Bull say Honda have identified and supplied a fix for the issue that forced Max Verstappen to retire from the Australian Grand Prix. The reigning World Champion drew a blank for the second time this season at Albert Park when he retired from the race and enabled Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc to extend his lead in the standings. The retirement was no fault of the Dutch driver, with a power problem having forced him to pull to the side of the road and assist marshals in extinguishing some flames at the rear of his RB18. The issue was investigated by Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) in Japan, which discovered and then fixed the root cause ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, says Red Bull boss Christian Horner. Verstappen returned to the track at Imola on Friday, where he put his car on pole position for Saturday's Sprint, ahead of Leclerc.

Red Bull set for fresh start thanks to DNF fix

Honda's confidence in having found a cure for Red Bull's problems will be seen as a big step forward for the team in their quest to catch Ferrari. Their reliability gremlins have left them 46 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship standings, with Verstappen down in sixth in the Drivers' standings. "Yeah, we've been working with our colleagues at HRC in Japan and they have found the issue, they've resolved it and I believe we have a fix for this weekend," said Horner, speaking to Sky Sports F1 . "It was just very, very unfortunate. [It was] a part that had done 10s of thousands of kilometres, without ever having an issue. But, unfortunately, [the issue] appeared at exactly the wrong time in Australia."

Imola will reward domination with big points

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, on the Ferrari home soil of Imola, offers Red Bull a golden opportunity to cut the gap to their rivals. With a massive 34 points up for grabs, should a driver claim victory in both the Sprint and Grand Prix (as well as the point for fastest lap on race day), a perfect weekend for Verstappen could see him take the biggest haul available during a single weekend since Abu Dhabi in 2014 (50). And Verstappen could not be starting the Sprint in a better position. "It's an important weekend for us; there are a lot of points available this weekend and we want to make sure that we're there to capitalise," said Horner. "We can't afford for the gap to grow, again, to Ferrari, so we need to start eroding it rather than seeing it grow."

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