WORDS BY ADAM PROUD | IMAGES BY RED BULL
There’s no doubt that this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, will be an important race for Red Bull as it looks to bounce back from a tough race in Australia.
In the three races that have taken place so far, Max Verstappen has finished on just one occasion. That race was the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix which he won at the end of March.
Considering the world champion is looking to put up a strong title defence, it’s been a torrid start, and many will be questioning already as to whether it will be possible.
After his retirement in Bahrain, Verstappen was optimistic about his chances that he could still contend for the championship, saying “this is race one, we have plenty more ahead of us.”
Fast forward just two rounds and it already sounds like the 24-year-old now sees winning the title this year as a distant reality, joking that there may need to be a few extra races if he is to fight for a second world championship.
“It doesn't look like there is an easy fix so we need to work hard as a team,” he said.
“There are a lot of things to work on. We'll wake up tomorrow and focus on the upcoming races and do the best that we can.
“It is of course a long season and a lot can happen; I think at this stage we need 45 races!”
Red Bull’s reliability will be a concern heading to Imola, especially with Ferrari looking almost unstoppable in the first part of this season.
Honda might not have the badge on the car any longer, but let’s not be fooled. It’s still Honda employees working at Red Bull Powertrains, and so there’s no excuse for repeated failures.
Whether it is now an ‘in-house’ engine or not, there’s still a might powerhouse sat in the background and these issues should not be happening.
Heading to Imola with the possibility of fresh engine upgrades, as F1 races in Europe for the first time this year, Red Bull will hope it can put its tough start behind them and kickstart a fight for the championship.
But if the team has another retirement there, then it's almost impossible to see Verstappen retaining his crown for another year, and questions will be asked of Red Bull’s decision to bring everything in house.
The pressure is on, the stakes are high, and Red Bull now needs to step up to the plate.
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