Verstappen exclusive: I had serious doubts about Red Bull’s 2022 season

2022 will be one of the most dominant seasons any driver has ever produced in F1 thanks to Max Verstappen rewriting the record books.

He claimed 15 Grand Prix victories (plus two sprints) and scored 454 points, breaking Lewis Hamilton’s 2019 record of 41 and ahead of Alberto Ascari, Jim Clark, Mika Hakkinen, Fernando Alonso and others. He trailed behind with 9 wins out of the final 11 races. Two-time world champion.

Armed with a formidable weapon, the RB18, Verstappen easily saw off the main opponents in his title defense after Charles Leclerc and Ferrari got off to a strong start.

Ferrari’s strength coincided with Red Bull’s weakest opening round due to a combination of reliability concerns and a significant overweight.

Combined with the fact that Adrian Newey and his team started work on the RB18 relatively late due to their push for the 2021 title in a heated battle with Lewis Hamilton.

This left Verstappen in doubt as to whether he would be able to win again in 2022. in an exclusive interview.

Verstappen question

“Honestly, it was a very big question mark,” Verstappen replied. If he thought retaining the championship was a real possibility.

“I had no idea where we were going because of the new regulations.

“Everything looked fine in the wind tunnel and calculations, but I don’t know what other people have found. Did they find a trick? [that we missed]?

“When the car entered the grid in Bahrain [for a pre-season photoshoot]there are so many different ideas for taking pictures and you are like, “Did we do the right thing?”

“The initial problem was that I was a lot overweight and couldn’t reach the full potential of the car, but over time we were able to get rid of that and the car became really lively. rice field.

“Upgrading helped, but mainly [it was losing] weight [helped us.]”

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Red Bull unaffected by porpoises

One of the big factors for the 2022 season was porpoises affecting cars as part of the new ground effect technical regulations.

Some teams like Mercedes were hit hard by it, but Red Bull is relatively porpoise free thanks to Newey’s ground effect experience during the 1980s sportscar and IndyCar era. did not do it.

And Max Verstappen feels that the lack of this phenomenon has given Red Bull an edge over the pursuit pack, which also presented challenges given the 2022 cost cap.

“Some teams had some similar problems to solve, but we were able to focus more or less on weight reduction and performance,” he explains.

“But that weight reduction was really unexpected.

“In a way, people were working out porpoises and we were working out our weight, but they probably would have preferred to focus more on performance.

“It was expensive and it’s a budget cap issue.

“We’ve already calculated certain upgrades and suddenly we need to go lighter and it’s not easy to find where to do it.”

Verstappen once again retired in the third round of the season opener in Bahrain and Australia as Leclerc extended his early points lead, but Verstappen is certain the problem is not related to the RB18’s diet.

“At the time, we didn’t really have anything to take the weight off of the car,” he says.

“We had to wait a few weeks before the season started. [the upgrades]so had nothing to do with it.

“Honestly, we had very few problems in testing – and all the problems we had [in the season] It was really unexpected.

“It was a bit disappointing. At the time I couldn’t explain why it happened, but luckily the team resolved the issue very quickly.”

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2021 vs 2022 cars

The 2022 car is significantly stronger than the 2021 model, with more weight and less visibility for the driver.

When asked which one Verstappen preferred, it was adamant.

“Last year’s car was more agile because it weighed less,” he points out.

“Visibility was much better on the front axle, but let’s be honest, in fast corners these cars are fine, but at low speed they are a bit lazy.

“It’s very stable at high speeds, but last year’s car was a bit twitchy, but at low speeds the weight really takes over.

“It’s a little disappointing, but at the end of the day the car is built for better racing and it does it.

“We needed a stiffer set-up and now we’re used to it.

“At first I struggled with the ride. It didn’t hurt my back or anything, but it was certainly very different to drive.”

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