‘Red Bull’s rivals should hang their heads in shame’

Oliver Harden
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton.

The rest of the field have one aim – beat Max Verstappen.

F1 commentator Peter Windsor believes Red Bull’s rivals should “hang their heads in shame” with the team still unbeaten with eight races remaining of the 2023 season.

Max Verstappen’s victory at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix saw him take the record for the most consecutive wins by a single driver with 10, with Red Bull securing their 15th win in a row since the 2022 season finale.

Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor believes Red Bull’s level of success is a reflection of the genius of chief technical officer Adrian Newey, claiming the restrictive rulebook in F1 today should not allow a team to dominate in such brutal fashion.

Red Bull are the only ones getting it right

He said: “The way the regulations have been drawn up for these cars, the way nine of the 10 teams have approached it…we’re now [in] 2023, they’ve had three years of working with this thing and they still can’t get the cars to work properly and consistently over a season.

“If it wasn’t for Red Bull you’d have to be saying: ‘There’s something wrong here. All these incredible Formula 1 teams with their sophisticated technology cannot get this thing to work on a consistent basis.’

“But Red Bull are showing that it is possible and therefore all the other teams have got the wrong approach – either the wrong approach to hiring the people they’re using to do the analysis and to design the cars, or they’re unable to put what could well be a very good aerodynamic package into practical use because there are so many new variables that have arisen because of the budget gap, because of the limitations on CFD design and because of all the other stuff that comes with that, including the sprint race format.

“Given all those constraints, Red Bull have shown that it is possible still to do a great racing car consistently from one race to another, so as long as Red Bull are showing that everybody else needs to hang their head in shame basically, I think.

“Because you can’t say Red Bull have got better facilities or more money or a better engines or better tyres – all of which are things you could have said in all the other areas when a team has dominated in the way that Red Bull are dominating now.

“If you look at Mercedes coming in the ’50s and dominating ’54 and ’55 – why? Because of the facilities and the money they spent. Can’t do that today, everybody’s basically got the same budget.

“Then you look at Colin Chapman’s innovation [with Lotus] and everything he brought to Formula 1 – can’t do that today, rulebook’s too tight.

“Then you look at Jackie Stewart winning with Tyrrell – that was due to everybody having Cosworth engines, having reliability but then Jackie doing a great job with Dunlop tyres and Matra and then, secondly, a great managerial job within the package of Tyrrell to come up with a great car that was almost designed around him. The rulebooks were very small back then.

“And so today we’re in a completely different era where basically the car is designed by the rulebook, where there are a few little things you can do, but all the things that you have to play with are the difficult things that all the nine other teams are getting wrong and only Adrian and his team are getting right.

“A lot of that is because Adrian had his feet in the water when ground effect and porpoising and all those other elements around which Adrian is working were still understood. Adrian’s always understood them, he’s a brilliant aerodynamicist as well as a lot of other things.

“So as long as we have these regulations – and it’s going to continue for quite a long time – it’s going to be difficult really for anybody to do anything about it.”

Windsor went on to argue that Red Bull are the only team who’ve demonstrated a full understanding of the demands of F1 in the current era, pointing to the fluctuations in performance of McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Marin in 2023.

He explained: “Now the dust is settling on this 2023 World Championship, I’m beginning to realise that it’s a lot more than just the Adrian Newey aerodynamics.

“Of course, that is the beginning of it – the CFD and the tunnel work – even though he was restricted by the penalty from the cost cap.

“But then it’s also translating that into the practicalities – for all the teams – of Formula 1 in 2023 and it is working within the budget cap; it is working within the CFD regulations; it’s also making sure that you don’t have any bouncing, finding the right ride heights, finding the right spring rates at the front and the rear.

“It’s giving you the right kerb strikes so you can use kerbs when you need to; it’s knowing exactly how much wing to run if you’re going to a low-downforce circuit and how much downforce therefore is coming from the car, and equally the same on a high-downforce circuit; and it’s knowing how the car reacts when the fuel load is [decreasing].

“And all of those things you can’t really do just in fuel runs on a Friday afternoon or even on a Saturday morning.

“All those things are to do with your overall picture and understanding and the building blocks you have of Formula 1 based around the current ground effect regulations – and the only team which consistently does a good job of managing all those variables around the package they have is Red Bull.

“The last time they really made a mistake was in Brazil [2022] – and that was another factor built in: ‘How do you set the car up for a sprint weekend when you can’t even touch it after first practice on Friday?’ That’s another limitation.

“And that’s one of the reasons why everybody else is finding it so difficult to be consistent, or even to have a quick car at all.

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“The pattern is that the McLaren now seems to have a lot of inherent downforce, but McLaren don’t seem to know how to use that when they go to a low-downforce circuit.

“But the illustration of that is that whenever they’re on the hard [tyre] compound, they seem to get more out of the hard compound than anybody else including Red Bull, as we saw at Silverstone, and that’s probably because they do have a massive amount of downforce.

“But the downside of that downforce is: how do they get it out of the car when they go to a circuit like Monza? And we saw there that they couldn’t do it, whereas Red Bull could.

“Ferrari, at the other end of the spectrum, don’t have anything like as much downforce as McLaren and they’re not bad at Monza as a result – but because they’re so light in terms of downforce, relatively quick on the straight, they still have enormous problems getting the tyres to work.

“Because it’s not so much the lateral load that they’re putting through the tyres for the first few laps of the Italian Grand Prix on heavy loads of fuel, it’s also what they’re doing under very heavy braking from high speed and what they’re doing to the rear tyres there and how much grip they’re losing there.

“And that’s why Red Bull went to Monza [and] weren’t particularly quick on the straight by Red Bull standards, because all they knew they had to do was just be really good in terms of grip and balance in corners like the Parabolica and DRS would take care of the rest.

“Very good thinking, that’s the regulation of the world in which we live, whereas Ferrari took a lot of stuff out of the car – it was very light – and in those circumstances obviously, yes, you can do a 10-12-lap run maybe on full tanks in practice, but you can’t do a 23 or 29-lap run – and that’s when the tyres started to go off halfway through the stint and they lost the rears.

“And that’s because, even if they’d wanted to run more downforce, they probably didn’t know how to do it anyway.

“They could’ve put on more rear wing, lost all their top speed and then they wouldn’t even have been on the front row, whereas Red Bull constantly find this average of how to do it right – and I think it starts with Adrian Newey and it just permeates through.

“If you look at some of the Red Bull guys who’ve left Adrian’s department to go to other teams, it isn’t a magic bullet.

“Aston Martin started the season very well, it was basically an Andy Green car as far as I could see. But now, the effect of Andy in terms of development has gone away and now it’s the new team [led by technical director and former Red Bull engineer Dan Fallows] they don’t seem to be making a lot of progress.

“That will probably change and they’ll go to some high-downforce circuits where Aston Martin will be really good again, but it isn’t just a magic bullet just to have an Adrian Newey aerodynamicist in your team.

“Look how long it’s taken McLaren to get it together just to get a lot of downforce – and they still don’t know how to get the downforce out of the car when they go to circuits like Monza.”

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