Red Bull’s championship advantage ‘phenomenal’ after late start on 2022 car

2022 French Grand Prix

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Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s mid-season lead in the Formula 1 championships is ‘beyond the wildest expectations’ of team principal Christian Horner.

The team scored their eighth victory of the season yesterday, seven of which have been taken by Verstappen, who now enjoys a 63-point lead over closest rival Charles Leclerc in the drivers championship.

Red Bull are also on course for their first constructors championship victory in nine years, holding an 82-point lead over Ferrari.

Having fought Mercedes until the final race of last season in both championships, Horner said he never imagined his team would begin 2022 so strongly.

“If you had told me going into Christmas last year that with the biggest regulation change in 40 years, with the effort that we put into last year’s championship, that we’d be sitting here with eight grand prix victories, two sprint race victories, and leading both championships by [63] and 82 points, respectively, that would have been beyond my wildest expectations,” he told media including RaceFans at Paul Ricard.

Horner believes every other team made an earlier start than Red Bull in committing their full resources to designing cars for the drastically revised technical regulations introduced this year.

“I think that it really is testament to the determination, the dedication and the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes within the factory now. We’ve seen Ferrari very competitive also this year, we see others, Mercedes for sure are gathering momentum.

“But considering we were probably the last team to transition fully onto this car, it’s been a phenomenal job.”

Leclerc took points off Verstappen in the British and Austrian grands prix and was leading yesterday’s French Grand Prix until he spun into a barrier. “It’s important on a day like today that you’ve got to grab the opportunities and I think we’ve done that today and it’s very important for the championships,” said Horner.

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2022 French Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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7 comments on “Red Bull’s championship advantage ‘phenomenal’ after late start on 2022 car”

  1. Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
    25th July 2022, 10:16

    To be fair to Red Bull – they’ve engineered an awesome car. They also have Max too, he is absolute top-tier material and it’s a killer combination. In the same way that the excellent Mercedes in the hands of Lewis was pure magic.

    Ferrari and their drivers have a few wrinkles to iron out before they can be a truly devastating presence on the grid.

  2. I do question if Mercedes didn’t develop their car longer last year to be honest but it’s certainly true that they were along with Mercedes one of the latest starters. They’ve done a great job this year and despite Ferrari having gifted them a bigger points lead than they probably should have, it’s completely deserved.

    It’s such a shame the end of the championship last year soured the sport at the start of the year but thankfully I think Mercedes being off the pace has allowed some of the fire in the rivalry to ease a little.

  3. Most of the RBR advantage came from their killer instinct and experience in terms of fighting for world championships and not the car itself. They are able to punch beyond their weight in races where they have no business to outscore Ferrari. Max Verstappen is doing an Alonso this year with the additional experience layer he gained fighting and winning a championship against Hamilton in a Mercedes. He is always there ready even in bad days ready to put the cars in places that it doesn’t belong to.

    Leclerc on the other hand has made two costly mistakes this season in Imola and France. Max also made a mistake in Spain but went unpunished. I’m fine with drivers making mistakes once in a while as long as they are pushing the absolute limit with their machinery. Carlos has just caught up and is now up to speed after a disastrous start of the season.

    Adrian Newey and his team have delivered a masterpiece of a car, the RB18, with a unique design maximizing the ground effect regulations relying on a counter-intuitive philosophy for RBR which is the aerodynamic efficiency. In the past all their cars were downforce monsters but lagged massively on the straights. RBR squeezed everything possible from their car by bringing upgrades in every race even in Sprint weekends.

    I still think that while the RB18 is a championship winning car, it is not as fast as the F1-75. Ferrari do have the fast all around car. It’s has been fast on every kind of circuit, every weather condition and on every tyre compound. So far, it has been faster than the RB18 with the exception of low downforce high speed circuits despite the fact that Ferrari raced with almost an unchanged test spec car till the Spanish GP and an unchanged car in both Imola and Austria.

    The only shortfall the car has is reliability which can be a decisive factor in a tight championship battle. Though in the past there have been unreliable championship winning cars. The RB6 for example was unreliable and Vettel suffered massive blows in his championship campaign in 2010 due to reliability issues. He even retired from the lead in Korea enabling Alonso to lead the championship 2 races from the end of the season. Let’s not forget that Verstappen also suffered 2 retirements due to reliability.

    I have said it countless times here that the issue in Ferrari is not the design team. Since 2017 and thanks to the massive structure reshuffle made by the late Marchionne (RIP) that enabled faster decision making and encouraged innovations, Ferrari have taken lots of risks design wise that paid dividends. The 2017 novel sidepods design was copied by the entire grid RBR and Mercedes included, the 2018 car was a championship winning car, the 2019 novel front wing… The PU which was always on the limit and probably beyond what the rules permitted : oil burn, ers deployment, fuel flowmeter… They were absent in both 2020 and 2021 but that was in part due to the settlement they have made with the FIA.

    The real issue of Ferrari is the race weekends operations. I remember that in a comment I’ve made here last year where everyone was expecting a championship fight between Mercedes and RBR with Ferrari producing a dog of a car. I didn’t have any doubt about Ferrari’s ability to produce a championship winning car but I was sceptical about their ability to challenge both RBR and Mercedes because the team with regards to operations seems at least for me the casual fan dysfunctional to say the least.

    In terms of strategy, race scenarios preparations, pitstops, communications between the different members of the team, communications with the drivers, reactivity to unpredictable issues… Ferrari seems to be a bunch of amateurs going to race for the first time. In Mercedes and RBR, it’s clear that everyone involved has a precise role to play.

    For example, the communications and the instructions between the engineers and the drivers are very precise and are the result of race scenarios prepared well ahead of races. Bono with Hamilton and Lambiase with Verstappen. On the other hand the communications between Ferrari pitwall and the drivers are a real mess and sometimes the engineers don’t have answers to what the driver is asking “I’ll get back to you, ok understood I’ll see what I can do…”. Yesterday Sainz was going to get a podium only to be stopped by silly 5s penalty, a slow pitstop and a dreadful strategy. They were asking him to box in the middle of a battle with Checo.

    RBR this year and last year for example faced a serious DRS issue on Max’s car and were able to get around the problem in race weekend before it was fixed in the factory. Ferrari if for example have faced the same issue, I’m pretty sure that their car will be black flagged during the race. In the pitwall with all the automation, software, simulation, AI… involved you don’t need brilliant engineers with no charisma, you need people with racing mentality.

    Binotto is a brilliant engineer but his race weekend responsibilities must be delegated to a sporting director a la Ross Brawn. Mekies can return to his previous role in the FIA or Torro Rosso. Adami and Xavier need to be replaced with engineers that prepare well their weekend and communicate straight to the point instructions and have answers to every query raised by the drivers. The entire strategy and pitstops procedures must be revised and the people in charge replaced because they have failed badly.

    Sorry for the long comment !

    1. Nice comment. Very well thought out. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Very well written, Thanks

    3. @tifoso1989 – agree with everything said 👏🏾

      1. Johns, @macleod, @icarby,
        Thank you all !

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