Red Bull’s dominant 2022 campaign could easily be labelled as the Austrians most successful in Formula 1, with the team having claimed both the Drivers’ and the Constructors’ Championship with relative ease.
17 wins from 22 races really does highlight just how immense Red Bull and Max Verstappen in particular were during the most recent season, with the side having clearly gathered the best understanding of the new aerodynamic regulations.
The team’s secret weapon, chief technology officer Adrian Newey, can be thanked for the team’s incredible RB18, which was the best car consistently across the year.
Interestingly, Newey wasn’t happy when the new regulations were initially announced, after claiming in 2021 that the change of regulations wasn’t “right”.
“I think if you come up with completely new regulations, we should make sure it’s right. And these rules just aren’t,” Newey said in 2021.
Perhaps as a result of their success, Newey has had a dramatic change of heart.
The incredible engineer has actually revealed his surprise at how much “freedom” there was to improve the car, something he believes is visible through so many teams having gone a different direction with the new regulations.
“When I first read the rules two years ago, I was really frustrated,” he said.
“They looked extremely restrictive. I have to admit that I had to change my mind.
“The chassis and the front wing are in a very narrow framework, but then there are areas with a surprising amount of freedom. These include the sidepods and the floor.
“The different sidepod shapes are also easy for fans to distinguish, which is a good thing.”
Whilst Red Bull did ultimately cruise to both titles, they were at times challenged by Ferrari and occasionally Mercedes.
All three interpreted the new regulations differently, with Mercedes having opted for the revolutionary ‘zero sidepods’, something that Newey found as a “real surprise”.
“It means none of us is absolutely right and there has to be something better,” Newey said, in regard to each team’s different interpretation of the regulations.
“The Mercedes was a real surprise,” added Newey.
“We had overlooked that loophole and they got better and better over the year.”
Despite so many different designs, Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes were the three leading teams.
Whilst it was the usual culprits at the front of the field, Newey was expecting the gap to the midfield to have been bigger, something which it wasn’t thanks to predominantly Alpine and McLaren.
“In the beginning, with us and Ferrari, there were two teams at the same level, and towards the end of the season Mercedes was getting stronger,” added the 63-year-old.
“To be honest, I was expecting bigger gaps.”
With Mercedes “getting stronger”, as noted by Newey, some might assume that 2023 will see an increased number of teams taking the Germans approach to the regulations.
Newey doesn’t see this happening just yet, with the budget cap meaning that a team can only switch their “concept” once they know it will be a “lasting success”, something the W13 certainly isn’t.
“We didn’t have the time to look at the Mercedes concept in detail,” he said.
“Under a budget cap you can no longer afford this luxury.
“With the Mercedes, it will be the case that everyone will only copy the concept when it becomes a lasting success. We will continue to develop our concept because we know it best.
“But I don’t dare to say whether our way is the best. It is quite possible that someone else with a better idea is just around the corner.
“Think of the double diffuser. That loophole was always there. It just wasn’t discovered.”