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‘It hurts everybody’ – Red Bull say ‘lots of lessons’ to take from first mechanical retirement since Melbourne 2022

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Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen (C) comes out after smoke billowing from his car

Red Bull saw a car retire from a race with a mechanical issue for the first time in two years at the Australian Grand Prix – with the team saying that there were “a lot of lessons” to take away from Max Verstappen’s DNF in Melbourne.

Verstappen led away from pole position at the Australian Grand Prix, but found himself quickly caught and passed by eventual race winner Carlos Sainz for Ferrari.

READ MORE: Verstappen explains 'really weird' cause of early retirement from Australian Grand Prix

It soon became clear that all was not well aboard the Dutch three-time champion’s RB20, however, with smoke pouring from the right-rear wheel as the car suffered an apparent brake drum fire.

Verstappen, who described the feeling as like having a handbrake pulled on the car, was forced to pit into his first retirement since this same race in Melbourne two years ago – ending a nine-race winning streak and a 43-race finishing streak in one fell swoop.

“It was a brake issue,” explained Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner afterwards. “It looks like the brake has bound on pretty much from the start of the race, and that’s why, as Max described, it was like having a handbrake which caused him to have a couple of moments. And then of course the heat’s building and building and building and then of course the resultant fire.

2024 Australian Grand Prix: Huge drama in Melbourne as Verstappen is OUT on Lap 5

“The car, obviously we’ve got all the bits back now and going through the damage, and we’ll go through and understand exactly what caused it.”

Asked why Verstappen – who still heads the drivers’ standings by four points from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, having won the opening two races of the season – had appeared so irate after storming into the Red Bull garage after climbing out of his car, Horner replied: “Obviously a driver’s going to be frustrated when he gets out of a car from a retirement, but I think he’s been very, very gracious with the team and all the mechanics.

READ MORE: Sainz storms to victory amid drama in Australia as Verstappen retires and Russell crashes out

“We’re all one team and that DNF obviously hurts everybody in the same way, so it’s a matter of learning from it. We’ve had two years of no mechanical DNFs which has been remarkable, so it’s a matter of understanding what’s caused it, learning from it and moving on.

“Remarkable after three races that he’s still leading the World Championship even with that DNF. But as I say, a lot of lessons to take out of today.”

2024 Australian Grand Prix: Sainz powers past Verstappen to take the lead in Melbourne

Also galling for Red Bull was the failure of Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez to grab the win in the Dutchman’s absence from the proceedings, the Mexican finishing a distant P5, behind both Ferraris and both McLarens.

But as Horner explained, Perez was fighting his own issues in the #11 Red Bull...

WATCH: Russell dramatically crashes out while chasing Alonso on final lap in Australia

“He’s probably not aware of it, but he picked up a bit of damage as soon as he passed, or whilst he was passing Fernando [Alonso],” Horner explained of Perez’s race. “He lost a significant amount of downforce from the floor of the car, so we just again need to get the car back to understand exactly what’s caused that.

“Then as soon as you get that, your tyre deg [degradation] gets worse, and we were just not good at the end of the stint, which has been an unusual trait for our car. So we need to understand that.”

Verstappen explains cause of his first retirement in two years after DNF in Melbourne

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