Damon Hill: Red Bull’s DRS advantage is ‘going to get everybody’s attention’

Oliver Harden
Sergio Perez in qualifying. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez makes sparks fly on the exit of Turn 10. Jeddah March 2023.

Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion, is expecting Red Bull’s breathtaking straight-line speed when DRS is activated to get everybody talking in Formula 1.

Red Bull claimed their second one-two finish in as many races at last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Sergio Perez winning the race and team-mate Max Verstappen recovering to second from 15th on the grid.

Verstappen’s Red Bull was noted for its prodigious speed in a straight line, the Dutchman breezing past the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton at one stage.

It has been suggested that Red Bull have identified a clever way to gain more speed than their rivals when the DRS rear-wing flap is open.

And with Hamilton claiming after the race that he has “never seen a car so fast”, Hill believes Red Bull’s trick will perk the attention of other teams.

According to the French edition of Motorsport.com, when asked for his view on Hamilton’s comment, Hill said: “He said ‘the fastest car there’s ever been in Formula 1’.

“I think what he meant was that there is a huge speed differential when the DRS is open. They are able to accelerate a lot more.

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“That’s going to get everyone’s attention.

“I noticed it last year – they have a very interesting rear wing, very elongated and when you look at it and it goes into DRS mode, it has a very low profile. I think they’ve done a lot of work on that.

“It gives them a bigger advantage than the others when they have DRS.

“I think everyone else is going to look at that and say maybe they’re missing something.”

Straight-line speed has historically been a major weakness of the Red Bull package, stretching back to the first season of the V6 hybrid engine rules in 2014.

The team struggled with an underpowered and unreliable Renault powertrain for the first five seasons of the hybrid era before agreeing to switch to Honda units from 2019.

Despite an overall improved performance, Red Bull continued to struggle in a straight line until the end of Verstappen’s maiden title-winning campaign in 2021 with the Dutchman unable to contain Lewis Hamilton on the flat-out blasts at Interlagos, where the Mercedes driver won despite being disqualified from qualifying.

With the introduction of the ground effect regulations in 2022, Red Bull suddenly excelled in a straight-line with the low-drag RB18 car with which Verstappen took the team’s first Italian GP win at Monza – F1’s famous Temple of Speed – since 2013.