SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) — Two races into the Formula One season and Red Bull has yet to secure a podium finish. The team got an unwanted double at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen retiring early on.
Verstappen punctured his rear left tire when trying a risky overtaking move on the inside of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes after a frantic start. Verstappen rocketed up from 15th on the grid and almost overtook Hamilton – starting ninth – with an audacious move on the inside.
But it came at a price as he retired soon after coming back into the pits. Hamilton was perhaps lucky to stay in the race after Verstappen came perilously close to shunting the world champion off the track.
“There needs to be a certain respect between drivers. I need to watch it again, but it didn’t feel like a respectful move,” Hamilton said. “It was a silly move for him because he didn’t finish the race and obviously he’s tending to make quite a few mistakes recently.”
It has been a frustrating start to the season for Verstappen, who span after pushing his car too hard at the Australian GP two weeks ago. He finished sixth in Melbourne.
“Due to the hit with Lewis we sustained some more severe damage than just the puncture,” Verstappen said. “It was shaping up to be an exciting race.”
Verstappen, who has earned a reputation for his dazzling but somewhat risky driving, has clashed with senior drivers in the past.
The 20-year-old Dutchman, however, did not feel he was in the wrong.
“In my opinion there was plenty of room for the both of us to go around that corner,” Verstappen said.
Ricciardo started from fourth on the grid but was undone by an electrical failure after just one lap.
“This sport can rip your heart out, it’s brutal sometimes,” the Australian driver said. “Coming in to turn eight I lost all power, everything switched off without warning and I couldn’t do anything.”
Ricciardo had topped first practice on Friday, boosting his confidence.
“I really felt like we were going to be in with a good chance,” he said. “Being out so early in a race is just the worst feeling, especially when it’s a night race and you are up all day waiting for those two hours and after two minutes it’s over.”
Red Bull enjoyed a strong finish last year from Verstappen and some encouraging pre-season testing raised expectations for 2018.
“A brutally harsh race for us today,” team principal Christian Horner said. “It is extremely disappointing, particularly when we had a race car today that was capable of challenging Ferrari and Mercedes. Thankfully the next race is only one week away.”
Red Bull will hope to finally make the podium at the Chinese GP next weekend.