Max Verstappen says any team that was “in trouble” last season with the new technical regulations will need time to recover, they may even have to “start all over again”.
Last season Formula 1 swapped its downforce philosophy, moving away from over-car air flow to ground effect aerodynamics where vortexes in the car’s floor increase the speed of the air flow which increases downforce.
Some teams got it wrong, others did not.
Red Bull most definitely got it right, guided by the man who is said to be able to “see air”, Adrian Newey. The RB18 was the pick of the field, winning 17 of the 22 races with Verstappen claiming a second successive World title.
Such was Red Bull’s form, the Milton Keynes squad is the favourite to do it again this season even though they are facing a reduction in their wind tunnel time as punishment for breaching the 2021 budget cap.
But what came as a surprise to many was that Mercedes, taking to the 2022 grid as the eight-time reigning Constructors’ Champions, did not get it right. Struggling with porpoising, a consequence of ground effect aerodynamics, they won just one grand prix late in the season.
Verstappen, although not specifically pointing to Mercedes, reckons any team that didn’t get it right last year may need time to recover.
“When there is a change in the rules like this, there will always be racing teams that get it right straight away, and those that have a harder time making the change,” he told Speedweek.
“If you are on course from the start, then you can work on a healthy basis and only have to make small corrections.
“But if you’re wrong at first, you sometimes have to start all over again and are therefore immediately behind.”
He added: “Those who got off to a good start in 2022 can build on that. Anyone who was in trouble will need a while to get out of this world.”
Red Bull suffered a similar fate back in 2014
Although it wasn’t the Milton Keynes team’s failure, back in 2014 their engine supplier Renault got it wrong when it came to the new 1.6-liter hybrid turbocharged V6 engines.
As such Red Bull went from holding the championship double to struggling to win grands prix.
It wasn’t until 2021, eight years later and having swapped from Renault to Honda power, that they were back on top in a championship with Verstappen beating Lewis Hamilton to the World title.
He added: “In the turbo hybrid era, it took us years to get to the level of Mercedes.
“Our engine wasn’t good enough for the first few years, but once we solved that problem we were able to focus fully on vehicle development.
“But again – it took us years to get everything in order.”