Christian Horner says the pre-race issue that struck Max Verstappen's RB18 wasn't related to the problem that eventually resulted in the Red Bull driver retiring from the Australian Grand Prix. In the build-up to the race, Red Bull could be seen working with urgency on the front end of the RB18, with the team also having made gearbox-related component and ancillary changes overnight. The problem was fixed in time for the reigning World Champion to start the race for what was a reasonably competitive showing until his car failed with 20 laps of the 58-lap race remaining. Speaking to media after the race, the Red Bull team boss explained that the issue before the race wasn't linked to the one that forced Verstappen to park up the car.
Horner reveals none of the reliability issues have been linked
"It was that we filled the car with hydraulic fluid before the race. But I don't think it's related to this issue," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com , after the Grand Prix. "It's frustrating obviously to have a DNF with this problem. I think the other one would have been OK." With Verstappen losing out on 36 points as a result of two retirements in three races, it's the latest reliability concern to strike a Red Bull-powered team. Both the senior team and AlphaTauri have struggled for reliability in the opening three races, and Horner said it's an obvious concern for their title hopes. "Across the two teams, we've seen a few issues, and they've all been independent – none of them have been related," he made clear. "We need to understand those and address them quickly. Because, even on a day that we weren't as quick as Ferrari, a guaranteed second place... for Max, we've given up 36 points [so far this season]. For the team, we've given up 50 points. "When you look at both the Constructors' and Drivers' Championships, [they would] be a lot different – but there's still a huge percentage of the championship still to run. We need to get on top of these issues quickly."
Early-season data will signal development path
Aside from the reliability problem, it wasn't a particularly strong weekend for Red Bull and Verstappen. The Dutch driver hadn't looked at ease on track, with multiple small errors and complaints about the car's balance. Horner had previously explained a struggle to get the RB18 into the correct performance 'window' to achieve its full potential, and said it's quite likely to be an area of concern for a while as teams slowly but surely figure out their cars under the new regulations. The revolutionary ruleset has meant that teams are having to work very hard to figure out how to achieve their cars' best performance, as well as identify the next steps in terms of development. "I think it's all part of the evolution and development of these cars," Horner added. "As we learn more about the tyres, and how the car is performing, that gives you a development direction. "Over the first few races, we've got some very good direction for the development vein for the rest of the season."