Max Verstappen failed to finish another race after having to retire his car again in Australia. Verstappen has managed to only complete one race from start to finish, which was at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
By: Sam Donsig
Three races into the 2022 season and Max Verstappen’s chances at defending his maiden drivers’ championship title are shrinking.
After struggling to cross the finish line at the season opener in Bahrain and retiring once again in Australia. Verstappen currently sits in sixth place in the drivers’ championship standings and 46 points behind Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen will have to do some major work to climb back up the table, and has to do it soon or else he could be saying goodbye to a back-to-back world drivers’ championship title.
Verstappen himself is not too keen on his chances of winning his second title. Verstappen outlined his concerns and where he stands on the title fight in an interview with Sky Sports F1.
“At the moment, there is no reason to believe in it,” said Verstappen. “These kinds of things, if you want to fight for the title, cannot happen.”
The two DNFs according to Red Bull are not directly related. The retirement issue had to do with a fuel system vacuum. This basically means that fuel was blocked from getting through to the engine. Which stopped both cars (Perez and Verstappen) from finishing the race.
However, in Australia, it was a slightly different issue. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner gave reporters his early hypothesis of the situation. The problem in Australia was believed to be a fuel system issue, apparently separate from the tank.
Sky Sports' Martin Brundle and Anthony Davidson believe that Red Bull does have a very fast car. Verstappen and Perez have both been able to keep pace with Ferrari’s Leclerc and Sainz every weekend. Which is one positive for Red Bull to take away from this. However, if he can’t manage to finish any races and score points. Verstappen’s chances of winning back-to-back drivers’ championship titles will continue to shrink.
With 19 races left in the season, Verstappen still stands a chance at claiming his second champion title. A few tracks favour the traits of the RB18 as the car tends to favour tracks with long straights and high-speed corners. Such as the Netherland's Zandvoort circuit and Mexico's Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Plus the RB18 does not understeer as much as the rest of the field.
Ferrari, on the other hand thrives more on low speeds. It is not as quick as the Red Bull on high-speed straights or without DRS. Mercedes loves the medium-speed corners. However, they lack overall top speed compared to Ferrari and Red Bull.
It is clear that Red Bull has great straight-line speed, as displayed around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. As it was clear how well the RB18 was able to keep pace with Ferrari around the super-fast circuit.
The bottom line is that speed isn’t everything, as the great Michael Schumacher always said “first, you have to finish.” This was after he had won the 2001 Monaco Grand Prix. The most important thing about the race is actually being able to cross the line.
The question is now where do Red Bull and Max Verstappen go from here, with Imola taking place next week. Is it back to the drawing board? Or will Red Bull find a way to put a stop once and for all to these costly race retirements. Only time will tell, and we will have to wait and see.