Max Verstappen’s title chances handed huge blow due to Red Bull spending

Defending Formula One champion Max Verstappen has seen his hopes of retaining his crown issued a huge blow due to emerging reports of Red Bull's vast spending which pushes them very close to the budget cap.

Reliability issues early on saw Verstappen forced to retire from two of the opening three races, which led Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to open up a 40-point lead, but the Dutch driver has responded valiantly with back-to-back wins at Imola and Miami.

That puts him just 19 points behind his rival heading into the first double-header race weekend of the season in Barcelona and Monaco but the push to reach the top early on in the season could have a significant impact on the back end of the campaign.

Remarkably, Motorsport report that Red Bull have already spent around 75% of their budget cap for the season in pursuit of continued upgrades and developments, as they seek to get to grips with the latest regulation changes in F1.

It's reported that top teams have around £8.1m available for updates and, while there is no defined limit to how much they can develop, not all of the £113.5m budget cap can be put towards updates.

Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto's verdict after the Miami Grand Prix has proven to be correct, as he predicted that his title rivals will have to stop their spending: “I hope, because there is as well a budget cap, that at some stage Red Bull will stop development: otherwise I will not understand how they can do that."

Red Bull will have hoped that their early-season spending would quickly solve any issues that their car has had but that hasn't proven to be the case, with Verstappen's involvement in practice ahead of the Miami race severely limited due to a hydraulic leak.

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Verstappen has pushed for the team to keep developing despite back-to-back wins, issuing a 'hit and miss' verdict on the team's endeavours this season: "We're still having a few issues we have to solve. We are quick, but my Friday was terrible, which is not great if you want to have a good weekend.

"And also Checo had a few issues in the race, so we have to be on top of that. But clearly there is a lot of potential, we just need to make sure it's reliable. We have to make sure these things don't happen. Of course, we are working on them flat out. We just have to nail down a really positive weekend without issues.

"I think of course, Imola, we had that [win], but it's still a bit of a hit and miss too much. So we just have to make sure that we are more reliable and more on top of things. But as you can see the car is quick. I'm very happy about that, I mean, if you would be slow and reliable, that's probably also not a good thing."

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