Verstappen Retires From Australian F1 Race as Red Bull’s Woes Continue
Mercedes capitalized on the opportunity with Russell and Hamilton finishing third and fourth, respectively.
The 2022 Formula 1 season continues to excite fans as the new-regulation cars have left the status quo of Mercedes-AMG's domination a distant memory. However, Red Bull hasn't been the team to benefit most from it. Sunday's 2022 Australian F1 Grand Prix is an example of such, as for the second time in three races, Red Bull’s RB18 suffered from yet another mechanical failure that led to Max Verstappen’s retirement on lap 39 of the race. The failure left the F1 champion just 19 laps short of securing second place.
“I smell some weird fluid,” reported Verstappen over the radio shortly before being told to pull the car off the track. Verstappen then exited the vehicle and quickly signaled at a marshal to extinguish an engine fire. It is unclear yet whether the issue is related to the fuel pump problem that led to a double retirement for both Red Bull cars in Bahrain. Much to the team's good fortunes, Sergio Perez was able to finish the race in second place, though a radio conversation revealed the Mexican driver was curious—if not worried—about his teammate's mechanical problems.
This DNF puts the reigning world champion at 25 total points for the season after the third race in Melbourne, a whopping 46 points behind Ferrari's Charles Leclerc—who appears to be relatively untouchable at this point. This places him at a significant disadvantage for the rest of the season to try and reclaim his World Champion status, though it's too early in the year to claim that either drivers' luck can't change drastically. Just ask Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking of the seven-time world champ, Hamilton performed an excellent start that pushed him up to third place in the early stages of the race. He ultimately finished fourth, just one short of the podium, while his new teammate George Russell scored his first podium with the team.
Leclerc secured his second win of the year, followed by Perez, Russell, Hamilton, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo in sixth, Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly, and Williams' Alex Albon in 10th. The former Red Bull driver was able to secure a much-needed championship point for his squad.
The 2022 season brought about massive changes in aerodynamics for this season’s cars, but the power-unit freeze has led to these current powertrains being used with only minor changes until the new regulations are revealed in 2025. Honda withdrew as an official engine supplier after the 2021 season but has come to an agreement with Red Bull Racing Technologies to use its power units. Whether Red Bull can overcome these issues with the RB18 to challenge Ferrari’s dominant F1-75, and a seemingly unstoppable Leclerc, remains something that fans will be watching closely for the upcoming Italian Grand Prix on April 24.
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