Verstappen had been looking to continue his dominant start to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend by taking pole position but his hopes were dashed when he lost drive on his first flying lap of Q2. 

Can Red Bull win every race this season?

The double world champion reported over team radio that he had an "engine problem" before being instructed to return to the pits in 'limp home mode'. 

"It's almost not accelerating," he added. 

Red Bull did not have time to fix the problem in the garage with only five minutes left of the second session of qualifying, resulting in a shock elimination for Verstappen. 

The Dutchman had complained of slow shifting in his RB19 in Friday practice, prompting Red Bull to change the gearbox on his car overnight. 

Verstappen is set to start Sunday's race from 15th on the grid and will have his work cut out if he is to make it back-to-back wins in 2023. 

The defending world champion said he had no warning about the "annoying" issue. 

"No, it is the first time I have heard about it," Verstappen told Sky. 

"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. 

"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."