After just three races in the new era of Formula 1, the driver wearing the number 1 on his car, Max Verstappen, is 46 points off the lead. It is not an extreme margin, given the number of races in the season, but it is clear that there is a lot of work to be done at Red Bull.
After what happened in Bahrain and the victory in Jeddah, after a spectacular fight with Charles Leclerc for the victory, the race in Melbourne went wrong again, at least as regards the car of the reigning world champion.
“I remember a time when we were 60 points [off the lead] with Vettel, and we still became champions,” recalls Red Bull team adviser Helmut Marko after the Albert Park race, trying to find a glimmer of hope. .
Alarming Red Bull tire wear at F1 Australian GP 2022
Having said all this, Marko is well aware that the current situation at Red Bull is not a pretty one. Two zeros in three races is particularly tough, and means that even the two Mercedes, with all the problems they have had at the start of the season, are ahead of the energy drink team.
Reliability or, in this case, the lack of it, is one of the causes, but Marko assures that it is not the only one: “There are two or maybe three different things at stake. First of all, reliability problems, which we barely had last year. But the difference with Ferrari was also alarming today. They just controlled the pace and without graining. When Max started to push, Leclerc was able to react easily.”
“We were all desperate with the yellow wheels (the medium ones). We had a lot of graining, maybe the most. Even Mercedes had better lap times at one point. The hard tire seemed to go a bit better, but Ferrari was in another category . We can only congratulate them for it,” Marko told Austrian television Servus TV .
Red Bull bosses stressed that Verstappen could lap at Leclerc’s pace, but failed to reduce tire wear. If his driver pushed to set the same time per lap, it was immediately reflected in the left front tire. “We were negatively surprised by the speed of Ferrari. They had almost no graining and we [had it] after a few laps.
This also happened in the opening phase, when Verstappen wanted to follow Leclerc and had to inform his team of his left front tire problems after just 12 laps.
“For Ferrari it’s easier to find a good balance in the car. Perez drove with a smaller rear wing than Max’s and had less downforce, but he still did better in practice. I think Max’s balance was not the right one,” Marko reasoned.
The weight of the Red Bull and the updates for Imola
The weight of the RB18 adds to these problems: “We are clearly heavier than the Ferrari. I think we have a disadvantage of about ten kilos, which converted into lap time is about three tenths.”
“But reducing weight is expensive, it’s a financial and reliability thing. So it’s about striking the balance, which is difficult with the budget cap, we’re facing tough times.”
For the next race, which will be in Imola and the first European Grand Prix of the season, Red Bull will present a package of improvements to try to solve some of the problems mentioned: “Yes we are going to have an improvement. If it works as well as the first updates and if we can reduce the weight, that package could put us on a par with Ferrari.”
“But even more important is that we solve the reliability problems. You can have a fast car, but if you don’t reach the finish line, it’s no use,” concluded the Red Bull adviser.