Horner: Verstappen’s DNF means “we never got to see the answers to had we solved” Friday balance issues at F1 Australian GP

Christain Horner in Red Bull team kit
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
Spread the love

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner explained the cause of Max Verstappen’s retirement from the Australian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman led in the opening stages before retiring four laps into the race, leaving Carlos Sainz with the chance to win the Grand Prix and close the top 4 right up in the Drivers’ Championship.

Horner said: “We could see there’s been an issue where the caliper has caused the brake to bind on, and that’s happened from the very start of the race. And so you can see the heat building. 

“And then, as early as the second lap, it was like Max had a handbrake at turn three. He had a moment there. Then, another that allowed Carlos to pass him. He was lining up to go back [at him] and had another moment.”

The problem worsened until the Red Bull RB20’s rear brake caught fire. 

This caused Verstappen to retire from his first Grand Prix since Australia in 2022, ending a two-year-long finishing streak.

The failure forced Verstappen to concede 19 points to his nearest rival, Charles Leclerc. Nonetheless, he held on to the championship lead by 4 points.

The Red Bull boss admitted dropping points is annoying but praised the team’s extraordinary reliability record: “We started to see the smoke and then the fire. 

“It’s frustrating. This is our first mechanical DNF since this race two years ago. In one way, that’s a testament to the car’s strength and design, but it’s obviously frustrating to have a zero-point score when we were fighting at the front of the field.”

The reigning champions struggled on Friday with the balance of the car. Verstappen was delayed in getting out in FP2 as he damaged his floor in first practice over the notorious turn 10 kerb.

The early retirement means the Milton Keynes-based team didn’t get to find out if they solved their problems from Friday.

The British Team Principal noted his Dutch driver was pleased with the balance on the laps to the grid.

Horner said: “We struggled on Friday. I thought the team made a great recovery, and Max did a stunning job in qualifying yesterday [Saturday]. 

“We’d started to work out the issues. I think we did four laps to the grid. He [Verstappen] reported being quite happy with the balance of the car. We never got to see the answers to had we solved those issues.”

Formula 1’s trip to Japan will allow Red Bull to try to return to winning ways after a difficult day at Albert Park, which was the first time neither car had been on the podium since Singapore last year.