Max Verstappen is out of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after suffering a major mechanical failure in Q2. The Red Bull driver made a mistake on his first flying lap and then suffered reliability issue on his second run. The Dutchman’s car suddenly stopped working on the exit of turn 10 and he limped back to the pits.
The reigning champion quickly took to the radio and told race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase that he believed it was an engine issue.
He said: “I have a problem, engine problem.” He later added: “It’s not accelerating.” However, after watching the replay, Martin Brundle claimed the problem sounded like transmission damage.
The ex-McLaren star explained: “I think that’s like a driveshaft or some kind of transmission, gearbox issue.” Lambiase could only tell Verstappen that Red Bull would try their best with his mechanics scrambling around in a bid to find a fix.
The Dutchman accepted his fate as he slowly got out of the car and walked away from the garage. Verstappen was the red-hot favourite to secure pole position after topping the first three practice sessions.
After making it back to the paddock, Verstappen confirmed the glitch was not something Red Bull had previously identified.
He commented: “No, it is the first time I have heard about it. Coming out of turn 10 it happened which is very annoying.
“I think so far we had a really good weekend, every session was going well, the car was working really well. Now it will be a bit more tricky to get to the front but it will be all about scoring points.”
Verstappen then accepted his Sunday would be “tough” when asked if he was still confident of fighting his way through the pack.
He added: “Of course, I would have liked to have stared further up the road but there is nothing I can do now. Let’s stay realistic- it is going to be tough but we have good pace so let’s move forward.”
It’s another reliability blow on what has been a tough weekend of mechanical concerns. Charles Leclerc has already been forced to take a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday after Ferrari installed a new control unit.
The Prancing Horse has also fitted fresh power units for both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz ahead of the race weekend.