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George Russell could be left red-faced as Verstappen issues identified

George Russell’s theory that Red Bull will win every Grand Prix this season could struggle to become a reality as new issues have come to light. Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle has revealed Red Bull suffered “critical” issues during the Bahrain Grand Prix which could have denied Max Verstappen victory.

He confirmed Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez had been nursing “transmission issues” in Sakhir.

Writing in his Sky Sports column, Brundle said: “Talking to a couple of key people after the race it clearly wasn’t as plain sailing for Red Bull as it looked. Both the cars had new oil inlet pipes fitted in parc ferme, and in the race they were managing critical transmission issues on both cars.”

The issue could have denied Verstappen and Perez a fantastic start to the new campaign as the pair cruised to a one-two finish. Verstappen finished almost 40 seconds ahead of nearest challenger Fernando Alonso while Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton were 50 seconds back.

The pair also dominated in qualifying to secure a one-two on Saturday and Sunday for the first time since the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After the race, Mercedes star Russell suggested the Red Bull’s would be uncatchable due to their “very strong” race pace. Russell explained: “Red Bull has got this championship sewn up, I don’t think anyone is going to be fighting with them this year. I expect they should win every single race this season. That is my bet.

“With the performance they’ve got I don’t see anyone challenging them. Their pace seems weaker this weekend than it was in testing, which was a bit strange. But, you know, they’ve got it easy at the moment, and they can do what they like.”

Red Bull chief Christian Horner played down Russell’s comments as he stressed the campaign was a “marathon”.

However, Brundle has also opened up on Red Bull’s dominance as he predicted the team saved some pace in the tank on Sunday because they were so far ahead.

He concluded: “Whichever way you cut it Verstappen was cruising out front and it’s not difficult to believe he could easily have been 10 seconds further up the road if required. Maybe much more.

“I’m sure they had the motor turned right down too to save that high power mode energy for another day, and he could have won the race at will, whatever they did strategy wise. As it was, they did something other teams couldn’t match – the soft-soft-hard tyre combo.”

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