After a disastrous start to the season with three DNFs between their two drivers from the opening three rounds, Red Bull Racing have gone on to become title favourites once again in 2022.
The Austrian team have an 80 point lead in the Constructors’ standings, whilst Max Verstappen leads the Drivers’ championship by 21 points.
It comes after Red Bull have won the last four races, with Verstappen winning three of the last four; Sergio Pérez winning the other one.
To make things even sweeter for Red Bull, Ferrari have suffered three DNFs from the last three races themselves.
Charles Leclerc has retired from two of the last three, whilst leading; Carlos Sainz has retired once in the last few rounds too.
Both Ferraris retired from the recent Azerbaijan GP, with the Scuderia’s reliability continuing to worsen.
It’s seen Ferrari go from being the championship favourites early on, to now playing the ultimate game of catch-up.
It means that Verstappen and Leclerc have both retired twice this season due to reliability problems, with Dr Helmut Marko saying it’s now a “draw”.
“We’ve had two DNFs due to technical issues. Leclerc has had those too, so it’s kind of a draw now,” said Marko.
Ferrari are currently the only team fast enough to challenge Red Bull, with Leclerc having complete dominance when it comes to qualifying.
When it comes to overall race pace, the two teams have been on more equal terms.
Ferrari’s biggest concern now will be the penalties which they will all but certainly face later on in the year, as they’ve already suffered a number of power unit failures.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is confident Ferrari will “sort their problems out”, but that “inevitably” the Italian team will face penalties.
“I think they have a very fast car, certainly on a Saturday,” Horner stated.
“I think on a Sunday, we’ve been equal to them at pretty much every race that we’ve been to this year. And I think that was the case again [in Baku] from what we can see in the early laps.
“They will sort their problems out. I’ve got no doubts about that. But inevitably, I guess it means that there’ll be penalties further down the year in the back end of the year.
“Of course, there is a long, long way for this championship to play out. We’ve seen big swings in points over the last four or five races, and it just shows how quickly things can turn around.”
Last weekend’s Azerbaijan GP was building up to be a thriller, as Leclerc inherited the race lead after pitting under the Virtual Safety Car, brought out to recover his team-mate’s F1-75.
It would’ve given fans another chance to see Verstappen and Leclerc go head-to-head, alas it wasn’t to be after Leclerc suffered yet another PU failure.
It meant that Red Bull capitalised on Ferrari’s reliability problems once again, ahead of the Canadian GP which should be on paper a happy hunting ground for the Austrian side.
Horner labelled it as a “shame” that Leclerc was met with another PU failure, after being excited to see a battle unfold.
“It’s a shame in many respects that the race didn’t pan out, because I do think we had a good race car,” he said.
“I think we would have beaten Charles strategically with the route that we picked as well. But we won’t know that.
“But the important thing was that with their misfortune we capitalised on it and we banked the points, because obviously the championships look healthy at the moment. But we can see how quickly that can change.”