For the second time in three races, Max Verstappen was robbed of a potential F1 points finish within sight of the chequered flag.

Having been forced out of what would have been a top ten finish on debut in Australia, the Dutch teenager was denied the chance to add to the seventh place he secured second time around in Malaysia when an engine problem halted his car on the start-finish straight at Shanghai International Circuit, bringing out the safety car under which the Chinese Grand Prix would eventually finish.

The outcome, which saw Verstappen classified as the last of four retirements in the race, was particularly galling as he had produced most of the on-track excitement in an otherwise largely processional 56-lap encounter. Defying the conventional wisdom that, at 17, he is too young to be in the top flight, the former karting champion pulled off three passing moves that his more experienced rivals appeared unwilling to emulate, and was on course for a potential eighth place finish when the gremlins struck.

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"It's a disappointing way to end what was being a great race!" he sighed later, "To be running in the points positions, but then have to stop the car so close to the end of the race is very frustrating.

"It's always great to get into the top ten and basically get a points finish, but it's still very disappointing to retire. I was really enjoying it again, like in Malaysia. I felt very comfortable in the car and that's very important."

The Toro Rosso team again appeared more than a match for its midfield rivals, even if it was left scoreless after second driver, Carlos Sainz Jr, also ran into reliability woes, and Verstappen was happy with his car up until the moment he was forced to stop with a sudden - and previously unseen - ICE failure.

"I'm obviously not happy with the final result but, as a team, we did the best job possible," he reflected, "The car was performing well and, even though we are lacking some top speed, the braking and the downforce we have is really good and that helped me to complete some good overtakes - which I enjoyed a lot."

Team principal Franz Tost admitted that his young charge undoubtedly deserved to score points in China.

"The strategy with Max, who started on the option tyres, worked very well," he noted, "He had a very strong first lap, where he was able to overtake a few rivals, and, from then onwards, he drove very competitively and showed a great performance by overtaking and controlling his direct competitors.

"Unfortunately, with four laps to go, we had an issue with the drivetrain which meant he had to retire. We now have to investigate what the exact reason is and, for sure, the race result is quite disappointing because the team showed a good performance and I think that we would have deserved to finish at least with Max in eighth position. But this is F1 and this is part of the game. As we know that we have a fast car, we are now looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix next week, where we will hopefully have a more successful race weekend."