Red Bull’s RB18 suits Verstappen more than Perez now – but that’s not by design

2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s technical director Pierre Wache has provided some insight on how the development of the team’s 2022 Formula 1 car has contributed to a growing pace gap between their drivers.

While Max Verstappen has extended his championship lead by winning the last five races, team mate Sergio Perez has only visited the podium once during that time. Perez has been out-qualified by Verstappen by more than half a second in the three grands prix since the summer break.

Although Perez is reluctant to blame the team’s development direction for his struggles in the car, he has acknowledged he isn’t as comfortable in the Red Bull RB18 as he was at the beginning of the season.

“It’s just a few bits constantly evolving things,” he said. “Things have been evolving.

“But I’m not making any excuses. The car is quick and I have to make the most out of it. So I’m going to keep working really hard with my engineers to make the most out of it and then still finish the season.”

Wache explained the changes that have left Perez unable to replicate his race-winning form from earlier in the year.

“I think it’s multiple factors but the main factor is clearly the car balance, the confidence with the car, compared to the beginning of the year when the car was a bit more balanced for him and a bit less for Max,” said Wache.

The “development we put on the car during the season” seemed to have moved it away from what was ideal for Perez, Wache suggested. “Trying to find the right set-up for him is quite difficult to get him as confident as he could be to beat, or to fight with Max.”

Red Bull began the season with an overweight car, and as they have lightened it over the season that has affected load points and influenced the team’s set-up choices.

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“The weight is an aspect, for sure, but it’s part of the set-up of the car,” said Wache. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t have the possibility to move the weight.”

Verstappen is now more comfortable in the car than Perez
“I think it’s everything together and after you find your performance somewhere, and it’s a little bit more tricky to set up the car, it went in the favour of Max,” Wache added. “I think he’s able to drive any car. Now we have to find a way to give a car for Sergio to be performing and to compete. But it’s a together aspect.”

Both Verstappen and Perez have become known for the differing driving styles. Wache was asked if the RB18 could have been made as fast as it is now had a development path been followed that was more suited to Perez’s balance preferences.

“If I knew, I will do it,” Wache replied. “Every time difficult when you try to develop the car, theoretically, for the performance and after you’re stuck in terms of set-up tools to rebalance the car. Then it means that you will have to go down a little bit on performance to achieve the right counterbalance, the desired one.

“I would say normally you will lose it a bit of performance to make it [handle] better. Doesn’t mean it’s a lot. But it is this type of direction.”

The fact Verstappen now finds the car better suited to him is “incidental” to the team’s development programme, said Wache. “When we develop the car, then you go for the best performance development. It is suiting more Max, but it was not the purpose of the development. It was more developing the car.”

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2022 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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56 comments on “Red Bull’s RB18 suits Verstappen more than Perez now – but that’s not by design”

  1. It was always great to hear technical side from a professional like the one with PhD in fluid mechanics here

  2. Lol so they incidentally designed the to maxes liking after perez was a bit more competitive in the first few races. I also read max can drive any car but then why doea every 1 keep saying he likes a car with more front end etc. Thats contradictory… Car balance has moved towards max purposely and with a clear goal. Understandable. He needs all the help he can get to hype him up as the next great.

    1. I also read max can drive any car but then why doea every 1 keep saying he likes a car with more front end etc.

      Do you really fail to understand how both can be true?

      They design a car to be as fast as the car can be, it just so happens that direction is something that Max prefers and Perez struggles with. A pointy car that rotates is inherently quicker.

      They purposely made their car faster and they have a driver who can make the most of that, and one who can’t do so in the same way. I don’t think Max needs help to hype him up, his results speak for themselves.

    2. I also read max can drive any car but then why doea every 1 keep saying he likes a car with more front end etc. Thats contradictory…

      What’s contradictory in that statement?

      PS as you seem to know better, I guess Ida/Clair should’ve asked you rather than listen to Pierre Wache :P

      1. Read the story. Tne engineer says max can drive any car abut then states he prefers apointy car etc. Thats contradictory. If u can drive any car then u should not have a preference. The engineer even explains further and says max struggled with the car more than Perez. Until they went a different route.

        1. Max was still beating Perez for the most part in the races. He had a few iffy qualifying sessions.

        2. I can eat both Macaroni and Spaghetti, but I prefer Macaroni.

          See how that works.

        3. If u can drive any car then u should not have a preference.

          I like* all women, but prefer blonds.

          * the closest I could find to ‘can drive’ ;)

    3. Every driver has preferences. Cars which understeer are generally easier to drive than ones which oversteer. Schumacher was said to prefer an oversteering car, and the same is said of Hamilton, whereas Button and Rosberg both preferred understeer, but I think all of them have shown over the course of their careers that they could drive anything.

  3. It’s not surprising that a Red Bull employee would toe the company line. Would you expect anything else?

    What ever the reason for it, the car has been developed in a direction that favours their number one driver. Is it deliberate? Nobody outside of RB would know the answer and nobody within RB is likely to tell.

    However, the second seat at RB doesn’t look that comfortable a place to be.

    1. Part of the usual RBR wingman strat. No need for an insider confirming the obvious.

      1. So “making the car as fast as possible” is part of the “usual wingman strat”?

        Ok.

        1. @mattds – Of coarse! Why else would a Team try make the car faster? The only logical reason is to favour one of their drivers over the other, isn’t it?

          Reply moderated
  4. It’s funny when people say RB develops their car for their number 1 driver (Max), when the same happened to HAM in 2017 & 18 as the season went on (Bottas was very near at the beginning). It’s only natural to go with the faster driver, unless some people here do believe that Perez – on equal terms – is as fast or faster than Max lol

    1. There’s a reason this ride is called max and not sergio!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSvFC7TX9EM

  5. Seems a lot of people need to get some tin foil here again.

    Simple, in every motorsport it is the same, in an understeered car (which the too heavy RB was at the beginning of the season) nearly all professional driver get to the limit of that car very easily and end up very close to each other. But, a understeered car is slower than a car that has a more (slighty) oversteered balance. Is just turns better and therefore corners quicker and also keeps the front tyres in better shape. Downside is, as wache said, it gets more edgy, more difficult to control and setup. And this is also the point, where the absolute top drivers come in there element and the gap to the slightly lesser starts to become visible.

    The current RB is, also for Perez, faster than the Bahrein RB. Getting to the limit of the current RB is the issue for him.

    Same happened at Mercedes with Hamilton and Bottas. The more the car developed over a season, the more Bottas struggled. Same with Ferrari in the Schumacher era. It is what the absolute top separates from the very good.

    1. It is mostly just people that are unwilling to accept that Max is just an extraordinary driver and the sheer possibility of him being faster than his teammates is just not able to connect in their brains. It has to be the car, the evil designers, the even more evil teambosses, all protecting Max from getting challenged.

      I don’t think tinfoil is going to fix this, unfortunately.

      1. “being faster than his teammates”
        He has hardly had the highest calibre of teammate recently. I mean DK, PG, AA and SP have hardly set the F1 world ablaze with marvel at their speed.
        However we do have a couple of good barometers. Sainz ran him close at TR when both young. Ocon outperformed in junior formula and Riccardo out performed him over 3 seasons at RBR (With Max only really being better for the races after Riccardo had announced his move to Renault which of course makes sense given the shut out Ric would have had by RB) .
        So for me your statement has a lot of hype. Only when we see him against a top team mate will we know if he is any better relatively now than then.

        1. You are not well
          Informed. The first season max entered at the spanish GP, the second RC scored better. That was it. A buggy season with many renault failures for borh drivers.

    2. That doesn’t really hold true, because it relies on a significant oversimplification of the interaction between multiple different factors.

      Saying that, for example, an oversteering car is always faster is not necessarily true – there are times at circuits that are rear traction limited where an oversteering car could end up at a disadvantage (e.g. it may be detrimental to acceleration out of certain types of corner, for example).

      It also ignores the tendency for the handling balance to shift over time, particularly with the current restrictions on refuelling and the construction of the tyres, and that what might seem optimal for a single lap will not necessarily be best for an extended stint.

      As an example, back when Alonso was at Renault, the tyre construction meant that the optimal balance wasn’t an oversteering bias, but one that underserved, due to the way that the tyres they used handled transitions in weight in the longitudinal direction of the car.

      1. I know. But I am not going to write a complete fysics book about the dynamics of racing cars here for the tinfoil wearing fellow fans.

  6. “When we develop the car, then you go for the best performance development.” Yes, and that (“best performance development”) takes the driver into account. Max has been at Redbull long enough for the team to know what car balance he prefers, and then pursue a concept that can match that.

    1. Added to that, Max may well be better at giving feedback to the engineers, helping them to understand how the car could be improved, and if that is the case then naturally the car development will likely move towards the preferences of that driver. And it is certainly true that some drivers are much better than others at communicating with the engineers. Some say “I can’t get the power down fast enough coming out of tight corners because the rear end is drifting out” whilst others say “The car isn’t fast enough, I want it to go faster”.

  7. There a cerain logic which is overlooked by many…escpecially those who aren’t willing to understand.
    All teams had to adapt to the new regulations, a series of updates was expected for every single team….(ofcourse Haas took a while)

    Both Perez and Verstappen have said the car indeed has become faster….the intitial design was overweight and suffered from unbalance and was understeering, the development was aimed at shaving off some weight and better balance.

    Perez hasn’ really gone forward or backwards…he’s right there was where he was last season, around 0.5 sec behind Verstappen. Verstappen struggled to drive the new car on the limit…Perez never drove the car on the limit, hence he always was 0.5 sec slower. With the design going forward and the car getting better, Verstappen is back driving the car on the very limits again….and yet we see a similar gap between the both. It’s no all to surprising really.

    1. How do you know Max is driving the car on the absolute limits? Maybe another driver would be even faster. Sure Perez is slower, there is no doubt. There is doubt about Perez calibre though. Remember he entered F1 on the back of huge sponsorship by Telemex. There are plenty of better drivers in F1

  8. Unsurprising article. British media at its finest. We get it: (Lewis is the goat and) Max is just lucky they develop the car towards his likings and sacrificing Perez in the process. We understand this is/was of course never the case at Mercedes or any other team.

    1. What? I went back and re-read the article to see where it talked about Hamilton or Mercedes and drew a blank. Why are you bringing them into this? Where does it say that Max is lucky? It is an interesting article about the development process. If you think it is biased in some way, that must be down to your own prejudices against Hamilton, or the British, or both.

      1. @AlanD you’ll find that Mayrton does this quite a lot. In their view, any criticism of another driver/team (especially Verstappen/RB) must be because “The British Media” supports Hamilton/Mercedes.

        They seem to really dislike, in this order, Hamilton, Wolff, “The British Media”, Mercedes. The funny thing is that they still choose to use “British Media”, i.e. this website, to make their views known.

        Sorry – hit report by accident. Why are the buttons so similar?

        1. Gardenfella, “Sorry – hit report by accident. Why are the buttons so similar?” I keep doing that as well. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was some sort of check boxes on a confirmation screen where it asked you to indicated reasons why you are reporting it, e.g.

          – spammer/scammer/stalker
          – racist/sexist/homophobic
          – aggressive towards another poster
          – dares to criticise my favourite driver

        2. Maybe, or alternatively you look through the articles through the years and find that there is a lot of tuning of narratives to work on a bigger (somewhat chauvinistic) agenda. It is subtle but consistent. Most don’t even notice. the Max drives dangerously narrative was a nice one in 2021. Everyone started to believe it. There is no doubt some F1 teams deliberately use the media in a bid to win championships.

          1. @Mayrton Max did drive dangerously in 2021. It wasn’t a narrative. Millions of people saw it happening live.

            Every country’s media is going to be biased towards their teams/drivers and against their opponents. It’s just part of sport and something you should learn to accept. If you want pro-Max, anti-Lewis articles, I suggest you look at the Dutch media. If you want a slew of articles bemoaning F1’s Euro-centricity, check out some sites from the USA.

            This article, however, is pretty much 80% direct quotes from a RB engineer and driver with a small amount of pretty neutral background editorial to stitch the two together.

  9. No one is saying max is not a good driver. But it just seems like some people were and are desperate to have a driver of not a dark skinned COLOUR as THE GOAT. Immediately describing his race craft to shumacher amd senna. While for Lewis the bar used to and still is being moved. Just to diminish his success.

    1. It must be my white racist brain, but I fail to see how that has a lot to do with Max adapting to the changes in the RB18 better than Sergio?

      1. Tielmst, my guess is that Wayne’s comment was intended to be a reply to Mayrton. When replying to the last comment on the thread, it is easy to post it as a new comment instead of a reply. I know because I’ve done that myself often enough.

        1. That would make sense. Thanks for the reply!

        2. Thanks Alan. I may have made a mistake with the reply.

      2. There’s a too consistent pattern of Max’s teammates struggling with the balance of the car. It can’t be that every single teammate is just not able to adapt. There’s something particular about the balance of the Redbull that is odd, but which Max has a unique way of thriving with. When the Redbull had a balance closer to Perez’s preference, Max wasn’t comfortable, and the gap between them was small. He wasn’t complimentary of the car. Where was his ability to adapt and get on with it? It’s obvious that Redbull is designing the car for the lead driver, and that will only make the gap to the second driver wider. It’s like putting a soccer player in a basketball court, telling him “you’re a top athlete, it’s yours job to adapt”.

        1. Very objective comment. I agree with with you.

    2. Wayne, Your racist comment is unacceptable. It is as racist one that discriminates based on skin colour, as one that calls others racists without any basis. Do you know me enough to conclude that I think VER is the best in decades just because he has a certain skin colour ? Because let me tell you something, I am also a PER’s fan (a non-white, to use the way you seem to describe people in terms of skin colour); I am also excited to see how De Vries is going to do next time he’s given a chance and I think it unfair that Werhlein was left without a drive.

      1. Isnt racism based on discrimination towards skin colour? Lol. Anyway apologies if i offended you or anyone. But sometimes the hard truth cuts deepest and hurts. And people tend to take personal offense by it. Especially when being called out. And usually likes to use examples how they not racist by using an example. For instance… “I have a black friend….”

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