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Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP

Red Bull fixes in place after triple whammy of Bahrain problems

Max Verstappen admits that his Red Bull Formula 1 team had "quite a few issues" to address after its frustrating Bahrain GP, but the world champion is confident that fixes have been found.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

His team boss Christian Horner conceded that with three unrelated major problems to solve the team had faced a "busy few days" addressing the problems that preceded the "brutal" double retirement at Sakhir.

Horner is hopeful that the fuel system, brake cooling and front suspension problems that occurred last weekend have been fixed, and will not re-occur in this week's Saudi Arabian GP.

Both Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez were obliged to manage their brakes from early in the race, and both drivers eventually retired after a vacuum in the fuel cell prevented the lift pump from feeding fuel to the engine.

In addition, Verstappen faced a steering issue immediately after his third and final pitstop, triggered when the car was lowered off the jacks.

"Quite a few little things we have to get on top of," said Verstappen when asked about the issues by Autosport.

"But the positive overall is that the car is competitive. And that's the most important, these things we had, I think they're easier fixes than when you have an uncompetitive car."

The brake issue emerged during the Bahrain GP weekend as the cars ran more consistently in traffic.

The team changed the rear brakes on both cars, but come the race itself the fronts were an issue.

"During testing of course brakes are getting hot," said Verstappen. "And we were trying to make fixes. And we thought it would have been just about enough for the race, but of course when you're fighting and close to a car, they get warmer, and that's why I had to lift a lot.

"So after my battle with Charles [Leclerc], basically the third lap, I had to back out because my brakes were literally on fire. So I had to be really careful with that.

"It was not worth it to try and force something when you have no brakes. We'll try to make a fix on that, because that's costing lap time. So I hope of course, this weekend will be better already."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Horner confirmed that it was running behind other cars in Bahrain that created an issue for the RB18's brakes, especially in Sunday's race.

"With the brakes I think what's very difficult to replicate in winter testing is a follow a car ahead for 20 laps," he said.

"And running in clean air we had no issue with brake temperatures.

"The problem was when we were in a dirty air both with Checo and with Max the front disc temperature just escalated exponentially, and so that's why we were asking the drivers to manage and pull the brakes when they got into the dirty air of the car ahead. We had no issue with the rears in the race.

"As I say, running in clean air in Bahrain, we had no issue running in dirty air, it caused an issue. So that's what obviously we have to fix."

After his final pitstop Verstappen made his frustration with the steering problem clear. He was eventually told that it wasn't a reliability issue, and that he was able to carry on.

"With the pitstop, something happened when we dropped the car, my steering got damaged," said the Dutchman.

"So it wasn't very enjoyable to drive after that, and also I had to defend from Carlos [Sainz] at the restart with that. I was not really sure what was going to happen with balance and the behaviour of the car.

"In the end, it didn't matter with the retirement, but also there, I think we made a fix, that that wouldn't happen again."

Horner's initial diagnosis on Sunday night was that a track rod was damaged when the car was dropped, but the fault has now been traced elsewhere.

"In the end it was an internal suspension component that caused the issue that was unrelated to the steering, but fouled the steering," he explained. "As it was released from the jack it propagated the issue that we had."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, heads into the garage after retiring

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, heads into the garage after retiring

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The fuel system problem that stopped both cars was a perfect storm of temperature and pressure in the tank as the level dropped during the race, creating a vacuum.

Bahrain was the first race for all teams with what Horner noted is the "more volatile" E10 fuel spec introduced for this season.

"I think that basically it created a vacuum within the tank," he explained. "You can get air in the system, and the pump wasn't able to draw on the fuel that it that it needed to. So, obviously frustrating.

"We've done a lot of tests in R&D during the last week, we think we've managed to replicate the issue. And we believe we have a fix hopefully, we'll see that this weekend."

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Horner stressed that the fuel pick-up problem had not been seen prior to the closing laps of the race, and hadn't occurred in testing.

"We ran on high fuel, low fuel, medium fuel, we did an awful lot of laps in testing. So it was a strange one that had been totally unforeseen. There's some some things have been introduced that hopefully will help that will eradicate it.

"We completed the vast majority with relatively problem-free running, high fuel, low fuel, during testing. Unfortunately an issue like that, it's brutal in the points effect it had."

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