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Red Bull vow to learn lessons after shock Verstappen retirement

Red Bull say they will “learn” from the brake problem that caused Max Verstappen’s shock first race retirement in two years at the Australian GP.

Verstappen’s attempt to equal his own record of 10 consecutive wins ended after just three laps in Melbourne on Sunday when a rear brake that became stuck open after the race start caused his car to lose performance and then eventually caught fire.

The Dutchman, who had already been overtaken on track by eventual race winner Carlos Sainz on the second lap, likened the issue to driving with a “handbrake” on the car.

It marked world champions Verstappen’s first mechanical retirement since the corresponding race in Melbourne in 2022 when he was stopped by a fuel-system issue. He had won 35 of the following 43 races since then.

Explaining what had happened, Verstappen told Sky Sports F1: “What we can see so far from the data is that as soon as the lights went off the right-rear brake just stuck on.

“It just caused the damage and it kept on increasing so it was also basically driving with the handbrake on.

“That’s why the car felt really weird to drive in some corners, just very snappy. The laps to the grid, the car was really spot on and I was happy with what we were doing.

“But if a brake is stuck on it doesn’t help.”

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Verstappen’s frustration after his DNF in Australia was understandable and they will learn lessons from the brake issue

Verstappen, who had dominated the first two races of this season, had initially appeared frustrated both over team radio in the car and when he first got out of it in the pit lane, but team boss Christian Horner said: “A driver is always going to be frustrated when they get out of the car from a retirement. He’s been very gracious with the team.

“That DNF hurts everyone in the same way. It’s a matter of learning from it and understanding what caused it.

“Remarkable after three races he’s still leading the World Championship even with that DNF.

“A lot of lessons learned today.”

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Verstappen explains what went wrong on his Red Bull after retiring from the Australian Grand Prix

Speaking to the written media shortly afterwards, Horner added: “I think we can see there has been an issue where the caliper has created the brake turbine to bind on and that has happened from the very start of the race.

“So you could see the heat building and then I think as early as the second lap it was like Max had got a handbrake. At Turn Three, he had a moment there, and then another that allowed Carlos to pass him. He was then lining up to have another go back and then he had another moment. Then we started to see the smoke and the fire.

“So it’s frustrating. It’s our first mechanical DNF since actually this race two years ago. In one way that’s testament to the strength and design of the car but obviously frustrating to have a zero-point score [for Verstappen] when we were fighting at the front of the field.”

Tear-off hampers fifth-placed Perez’s race

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Highlights of the Australian GP from Albert Park, Melbourne

With Verstappen sidelined, Sergio Perez finished only fifth from a penalised sixth on the grid in Red Bull’s other car. Horner revealed the Mexican’s attempts to challenge for the podium had been hampered by a visor tear-off.

“We went long on the first stint and his actual pace when he was coming through the field on the hard when he was catching Fernando was strong and matching the leaders,” said Horner.

“And then literally as he has passed Fernando he’s picked up a tear-off underneath the floor and it has got lodged in an area that has caused significant load loss,” said Horner.

“So literally as he’s then passed Fernando the car is not working as it should.

“Then you start to see degradation on the tyre again at the end of the second stint, which is unusual for our car. So a lot of lessons obviously taken out of this weekend.

“Frustrating that we didn’t manage to match the 10 in a row but incredible what we have been able to achieve so far.”

Reigning champions Red Bull still retain their positions at the head of the nascent 2024 world championship tables, but Verstappen’s early-season lead is down to just four points over Charles Leclerc in the drivers’ standings with the team holding the same slender advantage over Ferrari in the constructors’.

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 from April 5-7. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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