Christian Horner has given his strongest admission yet that Red Bull and Max Verstappen are on the brink of a World Championship double.
Although Ferrari began the 2022 season, with its new technical regulations and the return of ground-effect aerodynamics, as the team on top, the tide has turned Red Bull’s way since race four.
Verstappen won the second round of the series in Saudi Arabia but it was Imola where his fortunes really began to pick up and he has now triumphed in nine of the last 12 grands prix.
The Dutchman, defending his Drivers’ crown, has built a 109-point advantage over early leader Charles Leclerc, while Red Bull are now 135 points ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ standings.
Horner, the Red Bull team principal, is generally wary of getting carried away about title prospects – after all, Verstappen had a commanding margin over Lewis Hamilton last year with four races to go but the duo ended up level going into the Abu Dhabi decider.
But even with seven grands prix of this campaign remaining, Horner has conceded it would need an incredible turnaround to stop both trophies being placed in the Milton Keynes cabinet come the end of November.
“We are in a great position,” Horner told Sky F1 about the championship picture after Verstappen had won his home event, the Dutch Grand Prix, for the second year running.
“We’d probably have to try quite hard to lose it. But mathematically, nothing is done until it’s done.
“Our approach is as it’s always been, go one race at a time. Next race, next Sunday, same effort. We don’t allow ourselves to think too far ahead.”
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) September 5, 2022
That “next race, next Sunday” is the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, which has produced a shock winner for each of the past two years – Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo, which perhaps indicates Red Bull should take nothing for granted.
Indeed, the second and last time Red Bull triumphed at Monza was in the last year of their four previous title doubles, 2013 through Sebastian Vettel.
Horner said that after missing out on the teams’ crown last season, that would be a huge one to capture to end Mercedes’ run of eight in a row.
“The constructors’, that’s team versus team and that’s been dominated by next door (Mercedes) for the last eight years,” added the Briton.
“If we manage to bring that one home, that for us is as big as the Drivers’ this year.”