Horner admits Red Bull worries that could hamper Max Verstappen title defence

Christian Horner is worried reliability issues may hamper Max Verstappen ’s title chances this year. The Dutchman overcame a nightmare end to the Bahrain GP to record his first win of the season in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

He prevailed in an entertaining duel with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who crossed the line second and is the current championship leader. However, there is concern regarding the reliability of Honda, the manufacturer that provides Red Bull with their engines.

Horner had been coy all weekend on his optimism of making it to the end of the race with all of the RBPT engines in tact. “Of course, we’re concerned about it, but I think, first, we have to understand what it is,” he told RacingNews365.com.

“I think once all the strip-down has been done and we understand what the issue is then, hopefully, fixes can be put in place.” They were set to start making their own power units after the Japanese company’s exit from F1 at the end of 2021.

However, it was confirmed over the winter Honda would continue to manufacture their powertrains until at least the end of 2025 when the current engine freeze finishes. Despite the imposed freeze, teams are allowed to make changes to their units if they are having reliability issues.

Three of the four Red Bull Powertrains [RBPT]-branded Honda engines failed in Bahrain as Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri caught fire, while Verstappen and Sergio Perez both suffered late vacuum issues and finished with zero points. The reliability issues continued in Saudi Arabia last weekend when Gasly’s Alpha-Tauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda was unable to participate in either qualifying or the race.

The Red Bull double retirement in Bahrain was more down to fuel pick-up rather than a fundamental problem with the engine itself, whereas all three of AlphaTauri’s deficiencies have all stemmed from the main Power Unit. AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost thinks Tsunoda’s issues were due to a lack of oil pressure. “The oil pressure dropped and, therefore, we decided to stop,” he said.

“We don’t know yet whether we can use this engine or not [again], or what is exactly broken – we have to investigate.” The Austrian is keen to find out why his team's engines having been having more issues than that of their counterparts.

“I want to find out the reason why we are struggling with reliability because Red Bull aren’t having any problem,” he added. “[It] is still on the way back to Japan because [it] cannot be flown by aeroplane,” Tost revealed. “[The] battery has to be put in a sealed box of water and is now on the ship. We need to wait until they investigate what’s going on in there.”

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