A driveshaft failure in Q2 meant Verstappen had to start the race from 15th place.
He used Red Bull’s impressive pace advantage to finish second behind team-mate Sergio Perez, beating the Mexican to the point for the fastest lap to lead the 2023 drivers’ championship by a single point.
But while Verstappen limited the damage and retained his championship lead, he was still unhappy at losing out on a better chance to win and felt Red Bull must do better to avoid more reliability issues.
“We need to do better as a team, we can’t have problems like these,” Verstappen told Dutch broadcaster Viaplay.
“Otherwise this would have been a very different race for me. At the end we limited the damage a little bit, but I should have won here.”
Verstappen’s charge was hampered by fresh driveshaft concerns in the latter stages of the race.
The Dutchman initially pushed harder than the team was comfortable with, but he eventually relented and ended his hopes of overhauling Perez, focusing on the fastest lap point instead.
Perez voiced his concerns, admitting that Red Bull’s massive performance advantage has saved them from provoking more reliability issues.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
He even claimed that the Red Bulls might not have finished the season opener in Bahrain, where Verstappen led home Perez at a canter if they had been put under any serious pressure by the competition.
“We were in a lucky position in Bahrain but otherwise if we had to push to the end, we probably wouldn’t make the race,” Perez revealed.
“So, there are a lot of reliability concerns at the moment but hopefully they don’t hit us anytime soon.
“It’s going to hit us at some point but obviously we need to keep working on that.”
With Red Bull dominating both races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, it seems a foregone conclusion that Verstappen and Perez will decide the championship amongst themselves.
Verstappen, therefore, called on Red Bull to fix its reliability issues and ensure a fair battle between himself and Perez, who according to team boss Christian Horner are “free to race”.
“Everyone is happy but personally, I’m not happy because I’m not here to be second,” he said.
“When you’re fighting for a championship and especially when it looks like it’s just between two cars, we have to make sure that also the two cars are reliable.”