In the first few races of the season, there was a lot of concern about whether the Red Bull cars were going to be plagued by excessive reliability issues after a number of disastrous DNFs experienced by both drivers.
The common consensus in the paddock at the time was that the Red Bulls were fast and would be a dominant force on days where they could finish a full race distance, while the Ferraris might have a better balance of speed and reliability than would allow them to walk away with both championships. This certainly played out in the first few races.
Ahead of Monaco, Max Verstappen won every race that he finished, but he’d only made it to the chequered 66% of the Grands Prix thus far. Charles Leclerc, on the other hand, managed to pick up decent points in all of the first five races before retiring in Spain.
However, with a few more races run, Verstappen has built up a sizable margin at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, with his teammate, Sergio Perez in second place.
Ferrari, meanwhile, has one driver in third, and the other in fifth, playing the role of the bread in a George Russell sandwich. Is this the start of the Austrian team’s charge off into the distance as the other teams scrap for the position of best of the rest?
Fixing the Reliability Issues The initial concerns that Red Bull would be an all-or-nothing team this season have faded as its drivers have won every Grand Prix since Imola and all but two races so far this season. They’ve also picked up more one-two finished in the first few months of 2022 than they have in the last few years.
It seems, therefore, that the reliability problems plaguing Red Bull early on have now been fixed. This will be key to their ability to build a large points haul and prevent their scarlet and (to a lesser extent) silver rivals from doing the same.
Cost Cap Concerns?
One way that Red Bull has been able to pick up more points and fix its reliability problems has been to bring a constant stream of updates. In previous years, they’d have been able to maintain this rate all season, continuing right until the last Grand Prix if it was necessary. However, in 2022, the cost cap will prevent Red Bull and the other front runners from outspending their rivals to achieve success.
This means that, despite Red Bull signing new sponsorship deals with global brands like PokerStars, Oracle, and Bybit in 2022 alone, the team is unable to spend more on development than any other team as the FIA enforces a strict limit.
Team boss, Christian Horner, has been very vocal about wanting the cost cap raised due to increasing shipping and fuel costs that teams are being forced to bear. Even if this happens, Red Bull will need to stop bringing new updates for its car much earlier than its rivals.
However, this may not be a concern, since they will all hit the same limit. Although they may bring updates later than Red Bull and eventually close the gap, the Austrian team will have got the march on the rest of the field and picked up more points by that point, giving them a clear advantage in both championships.
New FIA Directive
Most teams have been plagued by bouncing this season as the stiffer suspensions and ground- effect aerodynamics come together to create an incredibly uncomfortable ride for the drivers.
Mercedes has been most affected by this, with its drivers visibly struggling through pain during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Ahead of Canada, the FIA announced a programme of measures to prevent the safety issues that this could cause from occurring.
This includes closer checks on the cars’ skids and plank, forcing teams with bouncy cars to raise their ride heights. Larger ride heights will hamper Mercedes in its quest for performance, meaning it’s going to be even further behind in the championships.
Ferrari are not expected to be affected as much as the Silver Arrows, but they too could lose a small amount of performance.
As a result, the stable Red Bulls could ride off into the sunset with the 2022 titles.