Damon Hill explains why Red Bull dominance is not at Mercedes’ level

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, Mercedes, pursue Max Verstappen, Red Bull. Mexico, October 2022.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell pursue Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. Mexico, October 2022.

Damon Hill believes the dominance of Red Bull in 2022 is not yet at the same level Mercedes achieved through the previous era of Formula 1, as other teams are within reach of the front.

Max Verstappen won 15 of the 22 races as Formula 1 began its new era, with two for Sergio Perez making it 17 victories for the Red Bull RB18 in a record-breaking year for the team.

But with the Ferrari drivers having taken more pole positions than Verstappen and Perez, the Red Bull team often overhauled their rivals on Sundays to take race victories during the season.

Speaking on Sky Sports F1 after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix about the prospect of a dominant Red Bull era in a similar vein to the way Mercedes ruled Formula 1 before them, 1996 World Champion Hill was unsure this would be the case – particularly given how fast the Silver Arrows were when the turbo hybrid era began in 2014.

“I was talking with Andrew Shovlin [Mercedes trackside engineering director] about this before the race and I made that point it’s not quite as dominant,” Hill explained.

“Their dominance is not quite as dominant as Mercedes’ shift to the hybrid era. And they were so dominant, they had to kind of underplay it a little bit because otherwise people would have ganged up on them.

“But Red Bull, you see at the end of the race, Ferrari weren’t too far away from them at the end. We don’t know how much more they had in hand, but they were pretty close to Red Bull and also, of course, in Brazil, you had Mercedes being competitive in a different set of circumstances.”

Red Bull have a tough task to stay in front beyond 2023

With both titles under their belts, Red Bull have the benefit of one of the strongest cars on the grid, but the drawback of a reduction in aerodynamic testing as a result of their success, as Formula 1’s way of halting unlimited progress.

But add the budget cap breach punishment of an extra 10% reduction in wind tunnel time, on top of the lowest number of runs of any team next season because of their 2022 success, and it will not so much be a case of Red Bull slowing down next season, but others having more opportunities to speed up.

They have the right person in charge of car design in Adrian Newey for starting off on the right foot, and the right person behind the wheel in Verstappen to continue their charge, but if Christian Horner’s own prediction of this penalty costing them up to half a second per lap rings true, they could end up off top spot relatively quickly.

Read more – Christian Horner on Adrian Newey’s impact: ‘He’s the only bloke that can see air!’