The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021, aside from the controversial end, was the spectacle that every Formula 1 fan dreams of, with two world class drivers going into the final race of the season level on points, making it a straight shootout for the title.
An unorthodox safety car procedure saw the title handed to Max Verstappen, much to the heartbreak of Lewis Hamilton, however the fact that Red Bull even managed to take the fight all the way to Abu Dhabi speaks volumes about the hard work done by the team.
Most teams usually stop developing their car towards the latter end of the season in an effort to get a head start for the following year, for example Mattia Binotto has claimed that Ferrari have been fully focused on creating their 2023 challenger for a number of weeks now.
In 2021 this was not the case for all teams however, as Red Bull continued upgrading and tweaking their car right until the very end, as they looked to get the better of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, which looked significantly stronger that the Red Bull in the closing stages of the season.
While the team’s decision paid off in the end, Red Bull’s engineers have revealed that they were initially worried that it would hinder the development of the RB18, rendering them uncompetitive in 2022.
“We were quite worried, because obviously we can for a final race shootout, so it was a massive pish with [continuing to develop] the 2021 car, which didn’t help,” explained Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan.
“Resource that would have been on the 2022 car remained on the 2021 car longer than we had originally planned. Given regulation changes, finite resources, then we were worried we had damaged the 2022 car.
“It’s an indication of the diligent work and the skilled work that went on within all the disciplines of the factory. So research, design, manufacture, realisation, all of it. We were at least as efficient as anybody else, and we were very privileged to have a very good car from the outset.
At the start of the 2022 season it looked like Monaghan and Red Bull’s worst fears had been realised, as a double DNF in Bahrain due to reliability issues saw the team walk away from the season opener with zero points.
It took a couple of rounds for the team to overcome this issues, but once they did they never looked back, as the team stormed to both championships without too much competition, with Max Verstappen winning a record shattering 15 races on his way to his second consecutive world title.