Christian Horner: Brazil driver drama ‘only a blip’ in 2022 Red Bull dominance

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, scratching head next to Sergio Perez. Suzuka October 2022. Credit: Alamy
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, scratching head next to Sergio Perez. Suzuka October 2022. Credit: Alamy

Reflecting on the 2022 campaign, Red Bull principal Christian Horner says Brazil was merely a “blip” in an incredible year.

Red Bull were the dominant force of Formula 1 in 2022, winning 17 of the 22 grands prix on offer.

Fifteen of those went the way of Max Verstappen, a new record for most wins in a single season as he strolled to a second World Championship, Red Bull also winning their first Constructors’ title since 2013.

It was not the smooth campaign which the stats alone pointed towards though, Red Bull faced with the fallout from their minor breach of the 2021 cost cap, earning them a $7 million fine and 10% wind tunnel time reduction.

Then in Brazil, Verstappen’s refusal to yield to team-mate Sergio Perez left Red Bull battling questions about the future of their driver line-up and whether the relationship of the duo was salvageable. The team was adamant that it was and had been sorted.

And this was an incident which Horner believes did very little damage in the context of their season.

“It has been an incredible year, with Brazil only a blip as far as I can see it,” Horner told GPFans.

“Because when you look at the season as a whole, if you think it was the biggest regulation change in 40 years and coming off the back of the biggest fight we have seen probably in 40 years between two drivers and two teams.

“So the way the team adapted to the new regulations, despite turning up at the first race and having a double DNF, we were competitive.

“From there, we were able to build some momentum, we won the second race out in Saudi Arabia and we got going.

“We never gave Ferrari a chance to make a big lead and get into a comfortable area.

“It has been an incredible year when you consider we won [17] races, had two sprint race victories, five one-two finishes, defended the Drivers’ Championship and retook the Constructors’ Championship after eight years.”

Red Bull could face more than a blip in 2023

While Red Bull were firm in stating that Verstappen and Perez were back on the same page after Brazil, it feels like we will only know if that is actually true in 2023.

Perez may say that he would leave Red Bull if he was categorised as the number two driver, but alongside Verstappen that is very much how he is viewed and utilised by the team.

So, the next time that Perez is asked to yield position or drive in a way that benefits Verstappen, then we will see just how strong that relationship is.

And since Ferrari and Mercedes will be out to right the wrongs of 2022, Red Bull may not have the luxury of such healthy leads to fall back on this time.

Read next – Lewis Hamilton’s warning shot to F1 2023 rivals: ‘We’re still the best team’

 

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