Christian Horner suspects 'nightmare' Red Bull double DNF related to fuel system

SAKHIR, Bahrain -- Christian Horner described Red Bull's double retirement from the opening race of the 2022 Formula One season as the team's "worst nightmare" and revealed the issue on both cars was likely related to the fuel system.

Max Verstappen retired his Red Bull from second place three laps from the end of the race after challenging eventual race-winner Charles Leclerc for the previous 54 laps. One lap later, Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez also dropped out of the running when his car spun on track while defending third place from Lewis Hamilton.

The double retirement means Red Bull leaves the opening round in Bahrain with zero points while rivals Ferrari took a maximum 44 and Mercedes scored 27.

"I can't remember the last time that happened to us but obviously it's your worst nightmare," Horner said. "It's hugely disappointing, not only to lose a podium with Max, but then also to lose a podium with Checo as well.

"He'd done the hard work into Turn 1, he'd held off Lewis. Anyway, we'll fight back next weekend and the positive is we've got a competitive car."

Horner suspects it was a similar problem on both cars but said it was not believed to be related to the issue on the Red Bull-powered AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, which caused a late safety car period.

"It looks suspiciously like the failures [on the Red Bulls] are related to each other," Horner added. "It looks like potentially an issue within the fuel system.

"So it's very disappointing to lose 30 points. I think the positive side for us was we had a very competitive car. I don't think we quite had the pace of Charles today, but some great racing between Max and Charles.

"I think when you look from a season's perspective, we need to get on top of the issue, whatever it was today and come back next weekend."

Horner also explained the reason for an unrelated problem on Verstappen's car, which resulted in the reigning champion complaining about his steering in the closing laps of the race.

"We bent a track rod when the car got dropped at the final pit stop and that made the car inconsistent from left to right, so he did a great job with that and looked like he was managing. It wasn't a safety concern, it was just uncomfortable to drive."

It's not clear if the fuel system will need to be updated to prevent a repeat at next weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but Horner said he was looking forward to getting the car back on track and challenging Ferrari again.

"I'm looking forward to getting to next weekend and not having the hangover of this result for two weeks. Look, I think the encouraging thing, as I say, is we were within a tenth of pole and fighting with Charles for the win. The regulations look like they've created that bit of closer racing."