Following a successful evening at the Autosport awards on Sunday, it appears that Red Bull have already switched their attention to 2023, where they certainly aren’t expecting to cruise to both titles in the same manner in which they did in 2022.
At the awards evening in London last Sunday, Max Verstappen claimed the International Driver of the Year award, following a truly dominant campaign.
Verstappen broke the record for most wins and most points scored in a season, on his way to a second consecutive Drivers’ Championship.
Red Bull’s celebrations didn’t end there, as the team’s RB18 picked up the Racing Car of the Year award, after claiming 17 wins from 22 races in 2022.
With this in mind, it should come as no shock that the Austrians sealed their first Constructors’ Championship since 2013 with relative ease, following the demise of Ferrari and Mercedes.
Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko is expecting to see Mercedes back towards the front in 2023, though, but that ultimately nobody will be able to get close enough to their imperious Dutchman.
“Mercedes fought their way to us over the year,” he told Sport Bild, “and although they are not yet at eye level, they have more time in the wind tunnel to develop the car.
“But I’m not too worried. We are on the right track for 2023 and with Max we have the best driver in the field.
“Checo (Sergio Perez) can certainly win a race or two, but at the moment I don’t see that he can challenge Max for a whole season,” Marko added.
“In general, I don’t see that anyone can currently do this.”
The only time when Verstappen appeared to be seriously challenged was after he’d sealed a second consecutive title, something he did at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Interestingly, team principal Christian Horner revealed that the team noticed that the 25-year-old put on weight after claiming the title, perhaps suggesting that he took his eye off the ball a little.
“They’re a little bit like jockeys where they have to come in under a certain weight,” said Horner.
“And we saw that weight starting to creep up a little, through the steakhouses in Austin and the taquerias in Brazil.
“He’ll be back on weight, I’m sure, by the time he gets back in the car in February next year.”
Presumably, all the drivers put on weight ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, after Lewis Hamilton gathered all the drivers together to attend a farewell meal for the now retired Sebastian Vettel.
As incredible as it was to see pictures of all 20 drivers together and having a good time, Horner joked that the same will never be done with the team principals, as the “love isn’t shared” amongst them.
“Unfortunately, the same amount of love isn’t shared around the team principals,” he smiled.