Red Bull reportedly tried one final 2021 upgrade at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but it did not have the desired impact.
The team headed into the penultimate round of the year knowing they could win their first Drivers’ Championship since 2013 there or lose the lead of it depending on how things went.
The latter seemed the more likely possibility given Mercedes headed into the race having had the faster car and won the two rounds before it via Lewis Hamilton.
To try and close the performance deficit again, Max Verstappen’s team reportedly introduced one final upgrade to the car, trying it on Sergio Perez’s RB16B during practice on Friday.
However, it did not have the effect they had hoped for, actually decreasing their pace.
“This was a small adjustment to the underbody. The aim was to reduce drag on the straights and thus gain a few extra kilometres per hour,” said Andreas Haupt of Auto Motor und Sport.
“However, the change cost too much downforce in the corners. And the disadvantage outweighed the benefits. Red Bull cut back. The data will be studied again in detail.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) December 7, 2021
Depending on what that data tells them, they could try the upgrade again during practice in Abu Dhabi, the German site believe, where they feel the layout of the circuit will suit the RB16B more.
“Perhaps the ‘trick’ will be tried again in practice in Abu Dhabi if Red Bull find what they are looking for and quickly come up with a better solution, or the track simply fits better,” Haupt added.
“Unlike the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the Yas Marina Circuit lacks the really fast corners.”
Verstappen will need all the help he can get in the season finale with himself and Lewis Hamilton level on points heading into the race after the seven-time World Champion ultimately prevailed in a titanic battle in Saudi Arabia.
Toto Wolff and Christian Horner have stated they have no idea how things will pan out in Abu Dhabi, with the Red Bull team principal hopeful his driver can take the fight to the Mercs.
“Mercedes have won three in a row, Max won two before that, who will come out on top next weekend? I have no idea,” he said.
“We’ve seen performance in recent races, the form is with Mercedes, but I think again Max fought like a lion in Saudi Arabia and he’s giving everything.”
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