August 27, 2017 / 4:34 PM / a year ago

Verstappen frustrated by early exit in front of 'home' crowd

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Dutch Red Bull driver Max Verstappen said he felt frustrated by his early exit from the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday as his team called on engine suppliers Renault to ‘get their act together’.

Formula One - F1 - Belgian Grand Prix - Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium - August 26, 2017 - Red Bull's Max Verstappen in action during qualifying session. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Verstappen, who drew a sell-out crowd of orange-clad fans from his nearby home country, departed from fifth on the grid but had to retire on lap eight when his Red Bull car spluttered to a halt at the famous Eau Rouge corner.

Shaking his head, Verstappen yelled “unbelievable” into the team radio before leaving his car and riding back to the pits on a quad bike.

“I lost power and everything was done. It is really frustrating,” Verstappen told reporters after the race.

Red Bull said engine manufacturers Renault were still investigating the issue but believed it was a faulty sensor or spark plug that had caused the failure.

In 12 races this season, Verstappen has failed to make it to the chequered flag six times, often sidelined by technical issues with his car.

“There are so many fans paying a lot for the tickets and you finish like this. That cannot happen with a top team,” Verstappen said.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he understood Verstappen’s frustration and noted that both Renault and their special adviser four-times world champion Alain Prost had come to apologise to the driver.

“Renault are quite aware that their reliability and product is not where it should be. We are a paying customer and the service we are seeing is below par,” Horner told reporters.

“As a team it is beyond our control, all we can do is to put pressure on the supplier, just like any supplier, and say ‘Come on, get your act together’,” said Horner, who has managed Red Bull since 2005.

Horner said the fact that Verstappen was more often the victim of engine failure on race day was sheer bad luck and had nothing to do with his driving style compared to his Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who also had problems with the engine but not during races.

“It is just bad luck on Max’s part. I don’t know whether he ran over a black cat on his way to the track or walked under a ladder,” Horner quipped.

Editing by Clare Fallon

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