How Red Bull’s F1 diet helped Verstappen and warded off Perez
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Max Verstappen’s path to his second Formula 1 title It went pretty well, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t bumps in the road.
The current performance of the car and its driver, who could already be mathematically champion at the next race in Singapore, makes it easy to forget the setbacks that marked the start of the season.
Indeed, at the start of the year, it looked as if his chances of contesting the world championship had vanished before it started, when a series of reliability problems allowed his main rival, Charles Leclerc, to take a considerable advantage in the drivers’ championship.
So much so that after leaving the Australian GPIn April, Verstappen appeared defeated when he said he was no longer thinking about the World Cup because he saw Ferrari too far ahead.
Then once Red Bull finally managed to solve the reliability of his RB18Verstappen continued to suffer with certain features of the car that were not to his liking.
For his part, the weak front end of the RB 18 seemed to be a perfect match for what his teammate Sergio Pérez likes, and there was a phase, around the Monaco Grand Prix, in which it seemed that the Mexican would even be the leader. of Red Bull. title contender.
But as the F12022 season progressed, it became clear that Red Bull Racing and Verstappen managed to find another gear, especially on Sunday.
While the Ferrari F1-75 still feels like a faster car over a lap, the progress the RB18 has made with its tire degradation has been impressive.
And it was this factor that worked perfectly in favor of the team, allowing Verstappen not to lose ground on the occasions when he had to start further back on the grid.
But most importantly, to help give him the current championship lead, was the fact that he seemed increasingly comfortable with the way the RB18 was developing, which also took the car further away from what it loved Perez.
This change led some people to say that the team developed the car in a direction that favored Verstappen.
However, the reality is that the car is more suited to Verstappen simply because of its natural evolution to improve it, and especially in the first moments of tuning, which was not available in the first weeks of the car’s life. car.
The real breakthrough for Verstappen wasn’t an aerodynamic development or a bespoke setup that helped him gain ground, just that when Red Bull shed weight on their car, the car just started performing as intended. .
First, losing almost all the excess weight they had at the beginning of the course (we were talking about 10 kg of excess weight), automatically allowed greater speed.
In Formula 1, it is said that each 10 kg of weight is three tenths per lap, so with a quick calculation it is concluded that they gained, just because of the “regime”, a few tenths.
But perhaps more important for Verstappen, a driver who prefers a more aggressive front end of the car, was the fact that shedding some extra weight allowed him to shift the ballast.
Even a few extra pounds moved to the rear of the car would have been enough to eliminate a lazy front end, bringing handling closer to what Verstappen prefers.
As he recently explained at Monza: “The car was very overweight, the extra weight was not in the right place, so it understeered a lot more and tended to lock up the front tyres.”
Red Bull technical director, Pierre Wacheexplained that by opening up the freedom to be more aggressive with the setup, Verstappen was able to achieve what he wanted from the car.
“At the start of the season we didn’t have the ability to move the weight, and that was part of the setup,” he said.
“But I think it’s all together and after finding some performance at one point, and even though it’s a bit difficult to set the car up, the wind has gone in Max’s favour.
“I think he is capable of driving any car. Now we have to find a way to give Sergio a car to perform and compete in.”
Red Bull seeks a solution for Pérez with its F1 2022
While Verstappen is completely comfortable in the RB18, there is work to be done at Red Bull to help Perez feel more comfortable.
Wache says the situation is easy to understand: Pérez isn’t as happy with his control of the car as he was earlier in the season. But the hardest part is finding a solution that doesn’t slow the car down.
“The main factor is clearly the balance of the car and the confidence with the car, compared to the start of the year when the car was a little more balanced for him and a little less for Max,” he said. declared.
“And after the development potential that we put into the RB18 over the course of the season, he’s moved away from that feeling. After finding a suitable setup for him, it’s quite difficult to get him comfortable enough. to beat or fight Max.”
Ultimately, Wache admits the only way forward might be to sacrifice recoverable lap time to make Perez happier.
“It’s always difficult when you try to theoretically evolve the car to improve performance, and then you are stuck at the level of the adjustment tools to rebalance it”, he laments.
“So that means you’re going to have to drop the performance a bit. To get the right counterweight, the one you want, I would say you’re usually going to drop a bit of the performance to improve it. It doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it’s that kind of direction, yes.”
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