Verstappen suffered his second DNF from the opening three races of the 2022 season after a technical failure on his Red Bull caused him to pull over at Turn 2 when he was running in second place. 

Despite winning the second race in Saudi Arabia, Verstappen now finds himself a mammoth 46 points behind his main rival Charles Leclerc, who cruised to a comfortable second victory of the season for Ferrari. 

The reigning world champion was left hugely frustrated and said Red Bull cannot afford for such failures to occur if he is to have any chance of successfully defending his world title this year. 

“We are already miles behind,” Verstappen conceded. “I don’t even want to think about the championship fight at the moment. 

“It is more important just to finish races. Of course, today was in general a bad day again. We don’t have the pace. I was just managing my tyres to bring it to the end. I knew I could not fight Charles so there was no point in putting pressure on him. 

“We didn’t even finish the race so it is pretty frustrating and unacceptable. I knew there was a problem so there was always going to be a question mark in finishing the race. 

“These kind of things, if you want to fight for the title, these things cannot happen.”

Reliability concerns continue for Red Bull 

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he completely understands Verstappen’s frustration and thinks his race-ending problem “might be a fuel issue” rather than the engine, but added an investigation is needed to be sure. 

“It is totally understandable, his frustration,” Horner told Sky. “It is a disappointing result not to finish the race. 

“We don't know what the issue is yet. We think it may not be engine-related, it may be a fuel issue. Until we get the car back, we don't have the data or info. 

“It is hugely frustrating. We didn't have the pace to fight Charles - [Ferrari] were in a league of their own. It is frustrating not to bag the points. 

“All credit to Sergio Perez today, he passed Lewis then George. But we didn't, as a team, have the pace. Ferrari were untouchable.” 

Asked about the challenge Red Bull faces to get on top of its reliability issues, Horner replied; “I'd rather fix a fast car than try to make a reliable car fast! 

“We can't accept DNFs. We have things in the pipeline that I think will help."

Leclerc led throughout to convert pole position into his fourth career win and make it two victories from the first three races of the season to strengthen his position at the top of the championship.