Former Top Gear ‘Stig’ warns Red Bull could be hit hard by 2022 shake-up

Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battled for the championship in 2021, and took 19 race wins between them.

Top Gear The Stig

Former Formula 1 driver Perry McCarthy has said that both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen deserved to win the world championship last season, and hopes the battle continues into next year, but he has warned that Red Bull could be weaker in 2022.

Verstappen beat his rival in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December following an extremely controversial Safety Car restart.

The 37-year-old had led for much of the race, and for all intents and purposes look set to seal his record-breaking eighth championship in superior fashion.

However, race director Michael Masi’s decision to allow a limited number of lapped cars past the Safety Car meant that Verstappen, who had gone onto fresh tyres, passed the Briton on the final lap.

Lewis Hamilton criticised for snubbing Max Verstappen.v1

The manner in which the title was decided has been criticised by many, including McCarthy himself, who labelled the Australian’s handling of the final lap “a joke.”

READ: Ex-F1 driver denies Masi tried to sabotage Hamilton but criticises ‘rushed’ decision

However, Verstappen did manage 10 race wins and 18 podiums in what was a tremendous term for the Dutchman.

As a result, a frequently posited perception has been that Verstappen deserved the championship, but Hamilton had earned the spoils in the final race at the Yas Marina Circuit.

McCarthy is not quite on board with this idea, insisting that both the title protagonists were well deserving of the crown in 2021.

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“I think they both deserve the championship,” he said in an interview with

“You know, I wouldn’t turn around and say Lewis deserved it; I wouldn’t turn round and say Max deserved it. You know, this is what made it so intriguing.

“You know, a lot of people say that Mercedes had the faster car, but that’s completely at odds with Adrian Newey, the designer of the Red Bull car, who actually was quoted as saying he believes over the course of the season, they’ve had the quicker car.

“So there’s been a bit of an ebb and flow sometimes, you know, sometimes we’ve seen that Red Bull had to run a lower rear wing because they believe they’re at a power deficit to Mercedes, which I’m sure constantly stating there has made their friends at Honda seethe a little bit!” he joked.

The former Andrea Moda driver is enthused by the fact that we rarely had a clear idea of whether it would be Christian Horner’s Red Bull or Toto Wolff’s Mercedes carrying the advantage going into each race.

“But yeah, there’s there has been an ebb and flow and to a degree the rulebook was torn up in a way of thinking about, okay, this is a Red Bull track, and this is a Mercedes track.

“Well, we often saw that prediction turned on its head, sometimes, where actually Merc would win on what was a Red Bull track or Red Bull when what you thought was a Merc track.

“So it was that unpredictability,” he added.

The 60-year-old hopes that this unknown element persists in 2022 under the new regulations and would like to see more teams and drivers in the mix.

“If we can go into 2022 with that same unpredictability, and with even more drivers and teams joining the party then it’s going to be worth tuning into, it’d be fantastic to see a few different drivers in with a chance where we got multiple winners [and it] becomes more unpredictable like that,” he explained.

“Clearly, that’s what we all want from an entertainment position.

“You know, so, fingers crossed the new regs, maybe turn that.”

2022 will see the cars change radically in a bid to promote closer racing.

Their aerodynamic efficiency will be reduced and the tyres are set to become 18 inches, with the ground effect returning to allow cars to follow more closely.

Red Bull and their legendary designer Adrian Newey have become known for innovative and prodigious aerodynamic philosophies.

READ: Schumacher says Hamilton ‘not at all fair’ to Verstappen for skipping gala

With scope for development seemingly being largely reduced, McCarthy suggests that this may take some weapons out of the Milton Keynes-based team’s armoury.

“I wonder if the new regs may damage Red Bull a little bit because, you know, as they’re coming down on the arrows, or at least changing the aero, the aerodynamics, principally we’ve always felt that Red Bull are masters in the art of aerodynamics and their downforce may be better than anybody else,” he philosophised.

“Maybe if you take some of those toys away, they might not have that advantage to play on.

“So they might have to look at other things.“

The Briton sees the creative minds behind the best race cars in the world as one of the more beautiful things about F1.

“And all of these people – which is why formula 1 is so fascinating – Formula 1 is a collection of unbelievably bright people, incredibly bright people.

“So to see them go to work and make these cars faster and faster is fascinating in itself.”

The new season gets underway on 20 March in Bahrain.

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