Max Verstappen on the ‘big question mark’ Red Bull answered in 2022

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen in the Red Bull RB18. Abu Dhabi, November 2022. F1 driver numbers

Max Verstappen at the wheel of the Red Bull RB18. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Max Verstappen said every team faced the “big question mark” of the new 2022 regulations, and Red Bull beat the competition.

The fresh Technical Regulations for 2022 were brought in to make the challengers more overtake-friendly, and combined with the budget cap, create a tighter grid.

It was Red Bull though who found the ace in the pack when it came to the new rules, winning 17 of the 22 grands prix, Verstappen taking a record 15 of those.

And as Verstappen pointed out, it was Red Bull who rose to the challenge of making the best out of this blank sheet of paper.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about who designs the best car, who comes up with the more clever ideas,” he told The New York Times.

“At the start of the season, it was all a big question mark for everyone, where you were going to be? Okay, you have your own numbers, but you don’t know what others might have found. From the start, our car was just a better car compared to the competition.”

While Verstappen cruised to his second Drivers’ title, Red Bull also claimed the Constructors’ crown to bring the team their first title double since 2013.

Verstappen pointed out that the team needs two drivers on form to achieve this, and in 2022, feels both he and Sergio Perez were.

“You always need two cars to perform well, and this year we did,” the Dutchman said. “It’s really satisfying for everyone at the factory. They work flat out trying to achieve it.

“Winning the Drivers’ title is amazing, but it gives you even more satisfaction if you can win as a team as well.

“Last year, we lost a lot of points battling. This year, we had a bit more luck, and in general, we were more competitive.”

Red Bull principal Christian Horner believes Verstappen found another level in 2022 as these new regulations came into force, reflecting on a campaign where he saw Verstappen as the “outstanding” driver of the field.

“Winning last year’s championship really took the pressure off his shoulders,” said Horner in an interview with The New York Times. “He just matured and moved up a gear.

“He adapted to the new regulations brilliantly, got his head down and just drove some incredible races. When you look at those Grand Prix victories, wow, there are some incredible races there. He was absolutely the outstanding driver of the season.”

Red Bull need fiercer competition in 2023

Considering the dominance which Red Bull enjoyed in 2022, it can be easy to forget that in the first half of the season, Ferrari arguably had the faster car, but were unable to use it to anywhere near full effect.

The end result was a look that is not great for the new regulations after the first year, with Red Bull well clear of the pack, and a grid which in general spread out slightly again compared to 2021.

So with experience of what works and what does not in this new era of Formula 1, the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes will be confident of taking the fight to Red Bull more consistently in 2023, while Alpine too are talking positively about their upcoming challenger.

A three-way scrap at least in 2023 then would be the perfect sign of progress for these regulations.

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