Double World Champion Max Verstappen has expressed how important the “weight of the car” is with the new aerodynamic regulations, with the Dutchman having struggled with the RB18 during its early life.
Considering how tightly fought the start of last season was, it’s incredible just how dominant Verstappen went on to be, with the 25-year-old having smashed the records for most wins and most points scored in a campaign.
The Red Bull driver claimed 15 wins and 454 points last season, a year which will always be remembered as one of the most dominant in the sport.
2022 didn’t start great for the Dutch driver, though, who actually retired from two of the opening three races following a fuel pump issue.
Ferrari were initially the team to beat, with Verstappen’s driving style having not suited the heavy RB18.
Red Bull entered the new aerodynamic era with a seriously heavy car, whilst Ferrari had designed a challenger which was already virtually at the legal minimum weight.
The RB18’s weight issue also “created an understeering balance”, which suited the style of Sergio Pérez considerably more than Verstappen.
However, as Red Bull introduced upgrades to the car which decreased its weight, Verstappen began to shine in the RB18, once it’d become “more agile again”.
“Well, now it was just related to the weight of the car,” Verstappen told Autosport.
“Being really overweight created an understeering balance and once we started to get rid of that, it started to be more agile again.
“Not just twitchy but more agile. You could really use the front end. At the end of the day, that’s also how you really drive a fast car.
“A car cannot be fast with understeer. It’s impossible.
“Especially with the tyres we had this year being a bit more understeer limited as well. You cannot have a car like that.”
Once the team introduced their first upgrades, Verstappen’s dominance truly began, with the reigning World Champion having been virtually unstoppable.
“To be honest, most of it came from the weight,” Verstappen added, when asked how he adjusted his driving style to the overweight RB18.
“But also the updates we did to the car [helped].
“[It was about] trying to learn the tyres, trying to really understand how we can preserve them better, which hasn’t been the easiest for sure.”