Verstappen 'clearly handicapped' by differential issue in Bahrain


Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko has revealed that a differential issue "clearly handicapped" Max Verstappen during his first stint in the Bahrain GP.

Verstappen led the field off the line at Sakhir but the Dutchman was on the radio with his team early on to complain about a differential issue.

The problem hampered the Red Bull driver's pace and eventually led to Hamilton undercutting his rival during the race's first pit stop rotation.

Marko, who confirmed the differential issue, reckoned the problem cost Verstappen three-tenths of a second a lap, a drawback that would prove costly at the end of a race that Hamilton would win by just 0.7 seconds.

"What was most serious at the beginning of the race was that there were problems in the differential area," Marko said in an interview with

"In Sector 1, we lost drastically, up to three tenths per lap. The same was the case with Perez, by the way. Not only was there less grip, but the rear wheels were spinning and the tyres were getting hot.

"During this phase, we didn't manage to gain the advantage we would have needed to avoid an undercut. We fell back from 2.5 to 1.7 seconds. That was the decisive phase of the first stint, where we were clearly handicapped.

"And then we had another problem, namely that we had to turn down the engine power due to temperature problems. But Max still managed to catch up."

On the back of its strong albeit winless start in Bahrain, Red Bull will head to Imola determined to vanquish its Mercedes rival.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit has said that it will add "as much performance as possible" to its Honda-powered RB16B, but Marko insists Red Bull will need a flawless execution to get the measure of its Mercedes rival.

"I think with the package we have, a very competitive engine, a chassis that reacts well to everything, that we will be back on par with Mercedes," Marko said.

"We know now, you can only succeed against Mercedes if you act flawlessly. Everything has to be right.

"We assume that it will be a similar situation - hopefully with a reversed podium and Max on top."

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