Max Verstappen has sent a defiant message to the rest of the Formula 1 field following Red Bull’s nightmare start to the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Verstappen was back in action last weekend for the first time since becoming world champion.
However, his title defence got off to a dismal start after the Dutchman was unable to finish on the Bahrain track. Verstappen found himself in a strong position in second just behind leader Charles Leclerc, as the race began to heat up.
But disaster struck for the 24-year-old after he suffered an engine failure late on, forcing him out of the race.
Things then got even worse for the Dutchman’s Red Bull team as his teammate Sergio Perez followed suit in not finishing.
The Mexican headed around the final lap in third and looked certain to secure an all-important podium finish for his team.
But the drama was far from over, as Perez spun out on the penultimate turn of the race to leave Red Bull with a blank finish in the opener.
What proved even more damning for Verstappen and his team was the fact arch rival Lewis Hamilton was the man to swoop in and secure the third and final podium spot.
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In spite of the torrid start, the Dutchman has offered a rallying cry on behalf of his team after revealing Red Bull will ‘come back stronger’ at the second race of the campaign in Saudi Arabia this weekend.
He said: “Last weekend was a tough one for all of us to take, we win and lose as a team and we'll come back stronger this week.
“We have a good package and we were competitive in Bahrain. So there are positives to take from the weekend, and we have a very long season ahead – it's only the first race."
The Saudi Arabia GP returns to F1 calendar just 112 days after it last played host – the shortest gap between the same Grand Prix in the sport’s history.
Ahead of the race Verstappen is ‘interested’ to see how the new FIA regulations will affect performance on the Jeddah track.
He continued: “Looking ahead to Saudi, the track is still very new for us. Last year the humidity was challenging, and they've made some small adjustments to visibility in sector one, so I'm curious to see how it's going to be this time around.
"It's a really quick track with high speed straights, and this year the cars are slightly heavier so it's going to be really interesting to see how they will perform."
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