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In a throwback to the Sebastian Vettel days, Red Bull dominated the field in F1 2022. Max Verstappen took the championship lead in round 6 and never looked back, comfortably winning his second consecutive title.
Red Bull closed out the year with 17 wins in 22 races, including eight in the nine races after the summer break. As one of the few engineers who had some previous experience working with ground effect, aerodynamics magician Adrian Newey delivered yet another masterpiece with the RB18 F1 car.
The season was almost flawless, with the exception of Verstappen’s retirements at the Bahrain and Australian Grand Prix. The Milton Keynes-based squad won nine consecutive races starting at the French Grand Prix, while building a streak of 19 consecutive podium finishes between the Saudi Arabian and the Mexico City Grand Prix.
How much of Red Bull’s 2022 form will carry over to 2023? Can the Austrian team continue its domination of the F1 field in this new ground effect era?
Formula One Red Bull 2023 Team Preview: Is Another Double Championship Possible?
|2022 Constructors’ Standings||1st (759 points)|
Red Bull had to wait eight long years to celebrate a drivers’ championship until Verstappen’s 2021 title. But despite the Dutchman’s championship, Red Bull missed out on the constructors’ title to Mercedes.
The story changed in 2022, as the Austrian team absolutely nailed the new regulations. With Verstappen more inspired than ever and Sergio Perez’s best season in F1, Red Bull ended a nine-year drought in the constructors’ championship, wrapping up the title with three races to go.
The first races didn’t go particularly smooth: a double DNF in Bahrain due to a fuel problem was followed by Verstappen retiring from second in Australia. But the bump on the road didn’t do much to damage Red Bull’s title aspirations. With the reliability gremlins out of the way, the team was the class of the field in the remaining 19 races.
Since the technical regulations remain effectively the same, it’s fair to say that Red Bull enters 2023 as the early favorites. The Bahrain pre-season tests confirmed that, as the new RB19 F1 car was clearly well ahead of the competition.
Although it’s still early days, it’s not an exaggeration to say that Red Bull is still the team to beat in Formula One 2023.
Red Bull Drivers in F1 2023
Verstappen and Perez return for a third consecutive season as teammates. The Dutchman signed a record-breaking extension in early 2022 that will keep him at Red Bull through the 2027 season. Perez was rewarded with a mid-season extension that runs through 2024.
|2022 Drivers’ Standings||1st (454 points)|
Entering the season as the defending champion, Verstappen faced some unexpected early drama with the two retirements in Bahrain and Australia. But as Red Bull’s reliability improved, so did his form. And by mid-season, it had become crystal clear that the 25-year old Dutchman’s second consecutive title was a matter of “when” rather than “if”.
While his 2021 campaign was already impressive, Verstappen clearly took a massive leap in his development last year. Racing with maturity well beyond his years, the defending champion was the class of the field in more than one aspect.
His ability to control the race was absolutely impressive: the Dutchman knows exactly when he has to push and ask more out of his equipment, and when he has to sit back and save it. Verstappen arguably has the best tyre management in the field, which became evident on multiple occasions last year.
Can anyone challenge the two-time reigning champion in F1 2023? For now, Verstappen is a step or two ahead of the competition – and catching up to him isn’t going to be an easy job.
|2022 Drivers’ Standings||3rd (305 points)|
Perez enjoyed a career year in 2022. After playing an important role in helping Verstappen’s 2021 title bid, the Mexican expected to get himself in the championship mix. After winning at Monte Carlo and finishing runner-up at Baku, Perez was suddenly in the title conversation – 21 points behind his teammate and second in the standings.
A poor run of results between the French and Italian Grand Prix ended his short-lived championship aspirations. Perez complained about an unfair treatment within the team. Realistically, however, his pace wasn’t remotely close to Verstappen’s. The 32-year old did have some nice moments, including his Monaco masterclass, but still lacked the race-by-race consistency to mount an actual challenge.
Will Perez force an internal fight for the 2023 championship? Red Bull looks set to continue its dominant run this year, which could give them room to allow intra-team battles. That being said, it’s difficult to imagine Perez putting up enough of a fight to dethrone Verstappen. A runner-up finish in the standings, on the other hand, is definitely on the cards.
F1 Red Bull Car 2023 – The RB19
the moment we have *ALL* been waiting for… 🤩🤩🤩— Red Bull (@redbull) February 3, 2023
🔥 THE 2023 @redbullracing F1 CAR 🔥 pic.twitter.com/bfya2x0NSm
Although Red Bull was, officially, the second team to unveil its 2023 contender, the actual race version of the RB19 remained under wraps until the Bahrain pre-season test.
Red Bull’s 2023 F1 car has been described as a “subtle evolution” of the all-conquering RB18. The new challenger kept most of its predecessor’s concepts while introducing some small but significant changes.
With the 2023 regulations attempting to minimize porpoising, Red Bull made some changes to its already innovative sidepod design. In order to mitigate the potential loss in downforce, the RB19’s sidepods have a very compact shape, improving the airflow towards the diffuser.
Red Bull set the trend last year with its downwash concept, which most teams have naturally adopted for 2023. But with its “first mover” privilege, the Austrian team was able to further advance its design. Red Bull managed to reduce its cooling components, which in turn allowed it to reduce the size of its sidepods.
By moving the sidepods further inward, Red Bull successfully created more room to work with on the car’s underfloor. The RB19 has a very effective solution to make up for the higher diffuser placement determined by the 2023 ruleset. Once again, Newey seems to be one or two steps ahead of the competition.
Other than its aggressive sidepod and floor solutions, Red Bull also made some small adjustments to the front section of the car.
The RB19 enjoyed a successful on-track debut at Sakhir, comfortably topping the timesheets in all three test days. Red Bull was also the fastest car over long runs, indicating that the rest of the field will have some catch-up to do at the start of the season.
As a result of its cap breach penalty, Red Bull will lose 10% of its allocated wind tunnel and CFD time for 2023. Combined with the restrictions based on the previous year’s standings, the reigning champions will be limited to 63% of the maximum time. But considering that the RB19 seems to be a good 0.3s faster than its closest competitors, it’s fair to wonder whether the penalty will have much of an effect in hindering Red Bull’s progress.