Max Verstappen had not long retaken the lead of the Formula One 2022 British GP when he suffered what he thought was a puncture. The team pitted him to change tyres but on his return to the circuit it was clear the tyres were not to blame.
Red Bull Racing have revealed it was a piece of Debris from the Alpha Tauri car of Pierre Gasly had caused extensive damage to the floor of the world champions RB18
Gasly was being opportunistic at the start and trying to pass George Russell in an ever closing gap. He nudged the British driver’s Mercedes rear tyre, causing a chain reaction which saw Russell hook his front left around Zhou’s Alfa Romeo rear right wheel sending him flying into the barrier.
The Alpha Tauri driver then trundled around under the red flag, shedding parts of his car at various points of the circuit and it was one of these Max Verstappen ran over when leading the race after the restart.
It was the underside of the floor that was damaged but it was impossible to see how bad it was but Ted Kravitz revealed in ‘The Notebook’ one of the ‘Venturi’ channels had suffered from Gasly’s debris.
The new 2022 FIA car design regulations have forced the teams to use ‘ground effect’ to generate the downforce they’ve lost from parts now banned on top of the car. Ground effect channels air under the floor creating a negative air pressure which sucks the car down onto the circuit.
The Venturi channels are used to create the negative air pressure and are extremely sensitive in terms of the aerodynamics.
The team could see Verstappen had lost load and so knew his problem could not be rectified. One commentator suggested Max had lost 30 points of aerodynamic load resulting in about a second a lap time loss.
Charles LeClerc tangled with Sergio Perez at the start of the race, lost a wing endplate and was told he had lost 5 points of downforce. Clearly Verstappen’s loss was 6 times that of the Ferrari and he struggled to stay ahead of Alonso and Norris.
Ironically the Red Bull junior team lead driver probably cost Verstappen a race win and the chance for Red Bull Racing to stretch their lead in front of Ferrari in the constructors’ race.
Pierre Gasly’s comments prior to the 2022 British GP now seem fairly ironic.
”For now, we must be ready to seize whatever opportunities come our way, even if on paper, Silverstone will be tricky for us,” he admitted.
“It’s a home race for Red Bull Racing and, in a way, also for us as our aero department and wind tunnel are based not far from the track.
“The atmosphere is quite special here and I’m looking forward to an interesting weekend.”
Interesting indeed, but disastrous for Max Verstappen.