Max Verstappen backs Red Bull despite ‘draconian’ penalty

The RB-18 was dominant in 2022, leading Max Verstappen to a record shattering 15 race wins.

Red Bull could not have wished for a better start to the new era of Formula 1, as the team ended 2022 by comfortably winning both championships.

The major changes in regulations gave teams that chance to start from square one all over again and get creative as they try to outwit their rival’s designs.

The RB-18 initially outshone by Charles Leclerc and Ferrari, as the energy drink giants suffered with an overweight and unreliable car.

After reducing the weight of the RB-18 however, Red Bull were able to capitalise on Ferrari’s strategic blunders and unreliable power unit to cruise to both championship titles.

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Mercedes got off to a horrific start under the new regulations, getting their development pathway completely wrong which resulted in the W13 lacking the pace of their rival’s cars and it harbouring a major porpoising problem.

The Silver Arrow’s inability to properly understand the new regulation changes straight away put them almost immediately out of contention for the championship last year and Max Verstappen has suggested that it could take them even longer to return to top form.

“Once you hit it spot on and you know what you are doing, you more or less work from there and you make small steps [forward],” the Dutchman told Viaplay.

“But when you get it wrong, you really have to reinvent and try again and you’re always behind and then you have to try and catch up.

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“You saw that with us in that it took a few years [to challenge Mercedes]. We didn’t have a good engine but once we had that sorted out, we worked on the car and once you bring all that together, you are finally more or less there, but it took us a few years.

“Maybe with these regulations, it is less complex, but you are still on the backfoot and need to catch up.

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“But while they tried to catch up, we’re also trying to improve, so that’s what we have to try and keep doing and hopefully show that again [this year].”

Red Bull will have to battle with ten percent less testing time in 2023, as punishment for their breach of the 2021 cost cap, which they were found guilty of late last year.

Ferrari will also need to adapt to their change in management following the appointment of Fred Vasseur, potentially giving Mercedes a window to return to winning ways, should they make the W14 competitive.