Max Verstappen has urged his team to make rapid improvements, saying it's "pretty bad" that Red Bull lost three of their four cars across two teams at the season opener in Bahrain.
Along with the two Red Bull cars retiring close to the finish, with Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez losing out on second- and fourth-place finishes, AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly had to pull off the circuit with a burning AT03.
With 18 points going begging as a result of his retirement, reigning World Champion Verstappen explained that the performance of the RB18 isn't yet where he wants it to be.
"Well, [I'm] not entirely happy, but I was still in second, which would have been a good amount of points," Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked whether he'd been satisfied with his car up until the retirement.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't finish the race. But [there were] still a lot of things we learned because we, more or less, completed the whole race, so we have a lot of information from that.
"We'll try to implement that here [in Saudi Arabia]. Of course, the track is a bit different, but it was a good understanding of the first proper race distance on the car."
Verstappen then gave a blunt assessment of the car, when asked if it had met his expectations.
"No, it didn't," he said. "I expected more, but we have our reasons for that. That's why we'll try to do better here."
Verstappen says Red Bull's Bahrain issues "shouldn't happen"
Red Bull have confirmed that their double retirement was caused by a vacuum within the fuel system, resulting in the RB18s not being able to sip from the remaining fuel in the tanks.
It was an issue that hadn't struck either car during pre-season testing, despite Red Bull carrying out some low-fuel runs, and Verstappen said that, while misfortune did play a role, it wasn't befitting of a team of their abilities.
"We didn't encounter it in testing, so we wouldn't know about it at all," he commented.
"I don't know how we would have spotted it. It's, you could say, in a way unlucky, but it shouldn't happen. It's as simple as that.
"To retire, basically, three cars, it was pretty bad. There is no way around that and we have to do better if we want to fight for the title. You cannot have too many races like we had in Bahrain."
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What about the other issues Verstappen encountered?
Verstappen's late fuel system issue wasn't the only problem that he encountered over the course of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the Dutch driver being told from quite early on in the race to "lift and coast" into the braking areas, due to excessive brake temperatures.
On top of that, Verstappen had to battle an increasingly ill-handling RB18 after the pit crew damaged the car when it was dropped from its jacks at his third stop.
Having identified these issues, he's confident the same problems won't strike again.
"During testing, of course, [the] brakes were getting hot, and we were trying to make fixes, and we thought it would have been just about enough for the race, but when you're fighting and close to a car, they get warmer, and that's why I had to lift a lot," Verstappen explained.
"After my battle with Charles [Leclerc], basically [on] the third lap I had to back out, because my brakes were literally on fire. I had to be really careful with that. It was not worth it to try and force something when you have no brakes, so we will try to make a fix on that, because that's costing lap time.
"[In] the pit-stop something happened when we dropped the car, my steering got damaged. It wasn't very enjoyable to drive after that, and I also had to defend from Carlos [Sainz] on the restart with that.
"I wasn't really sure what was gonna happen with the balance and the behaviour of the car but, in the end, it didn't matter with the retirement, but I think we've made a fix that it [won't] happen again."
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