Max Verstappen says “there is no reason to believe in” his chances of defending his Formula 1 title after a rocky start to the season.
Red Bull’s Verstappen has suffered from reliability issues and has failed to finish two of the three races so far in Bahrain and Australia.
The one race he did finish in Saudi Arabia he won, but he is still 46 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc.
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Verstappen was fuming after the latest setback in Australia and recognises that improvements need to be made if he is going to challenge for another drivers’ title.
“Being already so far down in the championship, I think it’s 46 points, from now on we need to be ahead [of Ferrari in each race],” he said.
“We need to be quicker, which we are not at the moment. And we need to be reliable, which we are also not. So there’s a lot of things to work on.
“I don’t even think about [trying to win the championship from this position]. At the moment, there is no reason to believe in it.”
Ferrari’s Leclerc has been the standout driver this season and leads the championship by 34 points from Mercedes’ George Russell.
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz is in third ahead of Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is backing his team to “bounce back”.
“We’re only just over 10 per cent of the way into the championship,” he said.
“So I think there’s still a huge amount to go. The encouraging thing is we’ve got the basis of a quick car.
“He’s obviously frustrated when he initially got out of the car, but he knows we’re all in it together as a team.
“We’ll bounce back. I’m sure he’ll be coming back strong at Imola.”
The season resumes with the fourth round at the Imola circuit in Italy on April 22.
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