Early race damage hampers Max Verstappen in Melbourne
Damage to Max Verstappen's Red Bull Racing car early in the race made for an uncomfortable ride as he dropped to sixth place in F1's season opener in Australia on Sunday.
The Dutchman was running fifth after slipping a place to Kevin Magnussen's Haas at the first corner, but something on his car broke in the early stages.
He then spun at the first corner on lap 10, dropped him further down the order before both Haas cars stopped out on track after pit-lane woes cost them their best finish in their history.
After losing another spot to Fernando Alonso under the safety car, Veratappen struggled to overtake the McLaren and had to settle for sixth in the opening round, while team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was fourth.
Verstappen was left to lament the damage to his car, which he feels contributed to his early spin.
"I think at about lap four or five I sustained a bit of damage on the car," he said. "I’m not sure what from as I didn’t have any contact or hit any curbs hard.
"When I jumped out of the car I could see some damage and I also think something broke off so we need to investigate what that was. The issue made it hard to hold on mid corner which eventually led to me spinning and then struggling for the rest of the race. Luckily I didn’t lose too many positions due to the spin and still managed to have a battle to the end.
"It is still really hard to get past the cars ahead as soon as you are within a second. This track is hard to overtake also but when you have limited grip it is extra hard. The car has been running and feeling really good all weekend so it’s a shame to have the damage and then the bad feeling during the race.
"We are happy to score some points considering the circumstances, as soon as we had clean air the pace was good.
"Looking ahead I think if we can have a good qualifying and clean start then everything else should sort itself out in the race and we can be competitive.”