Mark Webber’s warns rivals about F1’s ‘most dangerous team coming out of the blocks’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, chases Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes. Hungary, July 2022.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, on the tail of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes. Hungary, July 2022.

Mark Webber has warned Mercedes and Ferrari they need to “lift their games in all aspects” if they want to challenge Red Bull, the Aussie doubting Red Bull’s budget cap penalty will have a massive impact on the reigning World Champions.

Last season Red Bull romped to their first championship double since 2013 when Webber finished third in the Drivers’ standings to his team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s P1, the duo handing Red Bull the two championship titles.

With Max Verstappen leading the charge, taking 15 of 22 race wins in a season in which he seldom put a wheel wrong, Red Bull were back on top of both standings.

Based on last year’s form there is nothing to suggest Red Bull won’t put in another strong season this year, the Milton Keynes squad chasing a third successive Drivers’ title with Verstappen.

“Red Bull are still the most dangerous team coming out of the blocks,” Webber told Autosport.

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“Actually, everyone has to lift their games in all aspects. We saw that Mercedes had great reliability, Ferrari of course less so. But Red Bull had good reliability and were strong at all tracks.

“And Max, it’s just ‘Formula 1 plus’ for him at times. I think the highlight for me was to see what he did through the field in Spa. That was just unbelievable.”

‘Enough creative people’ to negate the budget cap penalty

Red Bull will be at a disadvantage this season when it comes to one thing, their aerodynamic testing time.

Having won last year’s Constructors’ Championship they were always going to be down to 70 percent on the overall aerodynamic testing restrictions (ATR) sliding scale.

Their budget cap, though, further reduced that to 63 percent of the overall time.

Webber has backed Red Bull to bounce back from that, confident the Milton Keynes squad has the people in place to negate the potential damage.

“I don’t think anyone knows really how much that’s going to impact them, but I’m sure they’ve got enough creative people there to keep it going,” said Webber.

Webber asks how much did Mercedes’ ‘give up’ in 2022

While Red Bull are down on ATR time, Mercedes have more time than ever before.

Winners of the 2020 and 2021 Constructors’ Championships, they took the hit two years in a row but now 2022’s P3 means they’ll have more time than both Red Bull and Ferrari.

After what was a trying 2022 season for the Brackley squad, Mercedes winning just one race as they dealt with a troublesome W13, Webber wonders how much they held back in order to best tackle this new season.

“But I think we also don’t know how much Mercedes have given up on this year,” he continued. “In some ways, giving up is not the right word, because there’s always some learning for next year.

“But I mean how they allocated the time, the R&D and the money under the budget cap between last year and the 2023 car.

“Thanks to those elements, it’s going to be fascinating to see how the first quarter plays out next season.”