Martin Brundle offers theory on Red Bull retirements in Bahrain GP

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were both hit by fuel-load issues as Red Bull failed to score a point on the opening weekend of the season

Verstappen Slams Red Bull After Double Retirement

Red Bull’s “brutal” double retirement at the Bahrain Grand Prix may have been caused by a fuel lift pump issue checked by the team on the eve of the season-opening race, Martin Brundle has suggested.

With Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both failing to finish the opening race of the season Red Bull suffered a disastrous Bahrain Grand Prix as Ferrari claimed a one-two and Mercedes gained valuable points in the standings.

Verstappen had challenged Charles Leclerc for the race lead but dropped off after experiencing steering issues, before a fuel-flow problem led to the defending champion losing power and returning to the pits with three laps remaining.

It allowed Carlos Sainz to take second place and things went from bad to worse for Red Bull when Perez’s suffered the same problem at the start of the lap, with Lewis Hamilton taking his spot on the podium.

Red Bull have yet to confirm what the reliability issue was but team boss Christian Horner suggested there were identical problems with both Verstappen and Perez’s cars that left their power units without fuel for the final laps of the race.

Ahead of the new season, teams were given an extra hour to check the fuel lift pumps on their cars supplied by the FIA, and Brundle believes that element of the car may have been where the reliability issue came from.

While Red Bull have insisted that the fire on Pierre Gasly’s Alpha Tauri car was a separate and unrelated issue, Sky Sports pundit added that the safety car that followed Gasly’s retirement did not help Red Bull over the closing stages of the race.

“The cruel irony for Red Bull is that the safety car was triggered by a fire in the sister team’s Alpha Tauri driven by Pierre Gasly,” Brundle said in his Sky Sports column.

“I’d mentioned earlier in our Sky F1 show that few teams had done a hot run-out fuel test with the new E10 fuel; it’s quite a difference when the remaining fuel gets ever hotter in the tank in the closing stages of a race. I know these things only because knowledgeable people tell me.

“Furthermore, and unusually, teams had been given an extra ‘curfew’ working hour on the Saturday night to check the standard-issue fuel lift pumps on their cars. I don’t yet know, but after the safety car period this could well have counted for the double Red Bull retirement.”

Red Bull face a short turnaround to their next race with a back-to-back at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to come this weekend and Horner said the team would be concentrating on identifying the problem ahead of the second race of the season.

“A brutal finish to that race for us,” Horner said after Bahrain. “What looked like a decent haul of points suddenly evaporated obviously in the last couple of laps there. But it looks like a similar issue on both cars.

“We don’t know exactly what it is yet, whether it’s a lift pump, whether it’s the collector or something along those lines, but we’ve got to get into it and understand exactly what’s caused it.”

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