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Red Bull's 2018: A season full of engine failures and 'what-ifs'

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RIcciardo takes US road trip (1:55)

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo takes a tour of the United States as he drives around the country in his Formula 1 car. (1:55)

Max Verstappen summed up Red Bull's frustrating season to date best when his car slowed to a halt on lap six of last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix with yet another engine issue.

"What a f------ joke. All the time with this s---, honestly. Can I not just go ahead, I don't care if this engine blows up," the Dutchman fumed into his team radio.

Mechanical gremlins, unreliable Renault engines, driver errors and an inability to maximize the performance in their car has seen Red Bull enter the summer break a whopping 122 points adrift of championship leaders Mercedes but things could have been so different for the Milton Keynes based team. It's no exaggeration to suggest they could be leading the constructors' championship at the mid-point of the season had things panned out a little differently.

Here's a breakdown of Red Bull's frustrating season to date and the opportunities that have gone begging:

Race 1 - Australian Grand Prix

Expectations at Red Bull were high ahead of the season-opener in Melbourne but when the cars hit the track it was clear the RB14 was a step behind Ferrari and Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas' shunt in qualifying allowed the Red Bulls to take P4 and P5 on the grid and that would have been just about the most they could ask for in the race. However, an early spin for Verstappen on the exit of Turn 1 forced him to play catch up before eventually finish sixth, two places behind Ricciardo who claimed fourth in his home race.

Points scored: 20, Potential points: 22

Race 2 - Bahrain Grand Prix

They may have earned a pass mark for their work at Albert Park but Red Bull's weekend in Bahrain could only be described as an 'F'. For the first time in eight years both Red Bull cars failed to finish a grand prix, in fact neither Verstappen nor Ricciardo made it to the end of lap three. Ricciardo, who started fourth, suffered a lap one electronics failure in his car before Verstappen was hit with a transmission issue just minutes later. It would be the beginning of a horror run of reliability issues for the team.

Points scored: 0, Potential points: 22
Points total: 20 Potential total: 44

Race 3 - Chinese Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo may have left China with a grin on his face after putting on a masterclass in overtaking for the race win, but it wasn't all plain sailing. Twenty-four hours earlier victory seemed improbable when he suffered a turbo failure and plumes of smoke poured out the back of his car in FP3. Had it not been for some quick work inside the garage to replace the engine, Ricciardo would have started from the rear of the grid. A clever strategic call to pit both drivers under Safety Car conditions gave Ricciardo and Verstappen a legitimate chance of a one-two finish but the Dutchman wasn't as patient as his teammate and careered into Vettel, throwing away more points.

Points scored: 35, Potential points: 43
Points total: 55, Potential total: 87

Race 4 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Ricciardo's victory in Shanghai had given Red Bull confidence going to Baku but by Sunday afternoon team boss Christian Horner was left pulling his hair out after his drivers sensationally collided late in the race. The pair were running in P4 and P5 -- and had been dueling for the majority of the race -- when Ricciardo attempted to dive down the inside into Turn 1. He left his braking a fraction too late as Verstappen moved across the track to defend, making heavy contact and sending them both into retirement for the second time in three races.

Points scored: 0, Potential points: 22
Points total: 55, Potential total: 109

Race 5 - Spanish Grand Prix

Spain was the first time in 2018 Red Bull really maximized their potential. A relatively drama-free third row lockout eventuated in Verstappen's first trip to the podium for the season after he benefitted from a Kimi Raikkonen retirement and Ferrari's strange decision to pit Vettel twice in the race. Verstappen would finish third behind the Mercedes duo while Ricciardo ran a fairly lonely race to come home in fifth, the last driver on the lead lap.

Points scored: 25, Potential points: 25
Points total: 80, Potential total: 134

Race 6 - Monaco Grand Prix

For the second time in four races, Ricciardo emerged victorious after suffering engine trouble. Red Bull's package was once again well suited to the tight and twisty Monte Carlo circuit and Ricciardo took advantage to snare pole position. However, it would be bittersweet for Red Bull with Verstappen forced to start last after crashing hard at Turn 16 in FP3. Ricciardo led early before suffering a loss of power on lap 18 when his MGU-K failed, leaving him 160bhp down. Remarkably, he still managed to hold off Vettel for victory as Verstappen fought back to finish P9, a long way off what looked like a possible one-two on Friday.

Points scored: 27, Potential points: 43
Points total: 107, Potential total: 177

Race 7 - Canadian Grand Prix

Despite topping the timesheets in every practice session, Red Bull's P3 and P4 in Montreal was probably the best they could have hoped for going into the weekend. Verstappen finished on the gearbox of second-placed Bottas to take his second podium of the season and Ricciardo managed to hold off championship leader Lewis Hamilton for fourth. However, the Australian was critical of Renault's engine upgrade which was introduced, claiming he struggled all weekend long with driveability.

Points scored: 27, Potential points: 27
Points total: 134, Potential total: 204

Race 8 - French Grand Prix

Formula One's return to France was a welcome one for Red Bull with the team scoring their second-best points haul of the season as Verstappen and Ricciardo finished second and fourth respectively. Like Canada a fortnight earlier, there was little drama for either car and both were aided in the race by the opening-lap collision between Vettel and Bottas. Nevertheless, it would be the last time before the summer break that both Red Bulls would finish a race.

Points scored: 30, Potential points: 30
Points total: 164, Potential total: 234

Race 9 - Austrian Grand Prix

Red Bull kept its streak of winning every third grand prix in 2018 alive when Verstappen held off Raikkonen to claim the team's home race in Austria. Verstappen had started fifth but was the major beneficiary of a Vettel grid penalty and a rare double Mercedes retirement -- allowing him to make his third consecutive trip to the podium for the first time in his career. There wasn't so much joy for Ricciardo who suffered an exhaust issue while running in P4 late in the race, forcing him to pull his car over on the side of the track and retire for the third time in nine races.

Points scored: 25, Potential points: 37
Points total: 189, Potential total: 271

Race 10 - British Grand Prix

The RB14 was never going to be the quickest car at Silverstone but a double top six finish was certainly achievable for Red Bull, particularly after once again locking out the third row of the grid in qualifying. However, further mechanical issues would prevent Verstappen from finishing the race, with the Dutchman sent into retirement with a brake failure in the final few laps. Ricciardo would take fifth, in the end just 0.7s behind Bottas who began to struggle with grip late on.

Points scored: 10, Potential points: 18
Points total: 199, Potential total: 289

Race 11 - German Grand Prix

Even before either car had hit the Hockenheim circuit there was frustration coming out of the Red Bull garage with Ricciardo in line to pick up a 20-place grid penalty for taking on extra power unit components, meaning he would start the race from P19. He did well to battle his way inside the top 10 before another loss of power forced him out out of the race. Despite wet conditions that looked to suit Verstappen, the 20-year-old was only able to finish fourth in a race where Vettel crashed out from the lead.

Points scored: 12, Potential points: 22
Points total: 211, Potential total: 311

Race 12 - Hungarian Grand Prix

Red Bull were the bookmakers' favourites for victory in Budapest but the weekend turned out to be one of monumental frustrations. A wet qualifying session caught out Ricciardo who was unable to set a competitive time in Q2 before the rain intensified. As a result he missed the Q3 cut and had to settle for P12 on the grid. For the second weekend running, Verstappen was unable to showcase his wet weather skills, qualifying a disappointing P7. Ricciardo sliced his way through the field on Sunday to finish fourth while Verstappen was left to rue another missed opportunity when his car suffered yet another loss in power.

Points scored: 12, Potential points: 33
Points total: 223, Potential total: 344

So, where could Red Bull be in the championship?

We can speculate and talk about hypothetical scenarios until the chequered flag falls in Abu Dhabi but there's no doubt Red Bull has missed a trick in 2018.

No team has been hit with more issues this season and instead of facing a 122 point deficit in the constructors' championship they could very well be leading at the summer break. Even without the driver errors, Red Bull could have an extra 75 points to their name, giving Mercedes and Ferrari plenty to ponder ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.