Max Verstappen admits his stoppage in second practice has put Red Bull “a little bit” on the back foot at Formula 1’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The Dutchman was considered the favourite by many entering the second round of the season at Imola following his narrow defeat to Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, but his weekend suffered a set-back when his RB16B ground to a halt by the pit exit with a mechanical issue early on in FP2.

Verstappen - who retired from all three events in Italy last year - initially reported that “something snapped at the rear” of his car after running wide over the kerbs at the final corner, causing him to lose drive altogether.

“I like Italy, the food is good, I enjoy being here - just the driving part so far hasn’t been the luckiest,” Verstappen said after FP2. “I had a driveshaft issue so I had to stop the car.”

Asked if the issue had put Red Bull on the back foot with Mercedes finishing 1-2 in the timesheets in both sessions, Verstappen replied: "A little bit but you know what you have to do anyway, so it should be alright.

“Of course it’s a bit difficult to say now for the second session, how we would have been. But nothing shocking. So we just need to see what we can do better tomorrow in terms of balance. But of course first we have to make sure that nothing breaks.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the team will seek to get to the bottom of the failure before on-track action resumes on Saturday.

“It looks like the driveshaft has given way unfortunately, so we’re just trying to find out exactly what’s caused that and why that happened,” he explained.

“Unfortunately the car went on a bit of a trip around Imola town after they collected it before we got it back into the pits, which didn’t allow us to get it replaced.

“It’s obviously on a Friday gearbox as well and we’ll be inspecting all the parts in time for tomorrow.

“We’ve got to take the bits apart to have a look. But the kerbs are pretty aggressive here so we just need to understand what’s caused it.”



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