Red Bull Racing have just delivered one of the most dominant Formula One seasons in recent memory, however Adrian Newey does not believe the RB18 will be his best F1 car design. With 17 wins from 22 races, the RB18 delivered the best winning percentage for a Newey car at 77%. Yet the Milton Keynes winning machine delivered just 8 pole positions from the 22 grand prix of the year.
By way of contrast Newey’s 7th design since joining Red Bull saw Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber take 18 of 19 pole positions together with 12 from 19 GP wins during the 2011 season.
Challenge to Red Bull fell away
On Sky Sports F1 end of season review Karun Chandhok. Noted that, “If you look at qualy averages across the year, Ferrari had the fastest car by 0.04%, but they underperformed for a variety of reasons.”
“I think Red Bull, for me, it was hugely, hugely impressive what they did because they fought last season right to the end. They put a huge amount of resource into winning for Max in 2021, yet developed a car that was quick out of the blocks, which Mercedes couldn’t do – they didn’t achieve that,” the ex F1 Indian driver went on to explain.
“Red Bull, they completely changed the concept of suspension, went to a pull rod front, pushrod rear, completely inverted from previous years, which most other teams didn’t do, and they got the aero package right as well. So to me, this was a massively impressive season from them.”
RB18 shake start
The RB18 won the FIA “racing car of the year” award though it can be argued that the package twinned with Max Verstappen was what made the 2022 Adrian Newey F1 car so exceptional.
Verstappen made history winning 15 races, yet his team mate I the same machinery managed just two wins during the 2022 season and after just 3 races the outlook for 2022 looked very different from the season ending finale in Abu Dhabi.
Newey’s RB18 had failed on the Dutch driver twice and he was facing a 44 point deficit to championship leading Ferrari driver Charles LeClerc. However, as Red Bull improved their reliability Ferrari appeared to drop the ball.
Ferrari engine designed for power not reliability
It seems with F1 engine design regulations frozen until 2026 Ferrari decided to risk it on a design that produced more power than its previous iteration but had a higher risk of failure. They did this knowing that reliability improvements can be made during the 4 year FIA engine development moratorium period.
This of course cost Charles LeClerc what he truly believed by race 3 was a genuine shot at the drivers’ world title. Ferrari engines blew up while LeClerc was leading the race in both Barcelona and Baku. This combined with the Italian team’s poor strategic and pit lane performance saw the monegasque driver’s hopes quickly fade as the mid season went on.
On the same Sky programme as Chandhok, David Croft revealed a conversation he had with Red Bull’s genius designer Adrian Newey.
F1 regulation change
“I was talking to Adrian Newey last night. Even though it is the winningest most car – and I really hate that phrase, but apparently it’s grammatically correct – Adrian still doesn’t think it’s the strongest car he’s ever engineered or been part of.
“He still thinks that a lot of the success Red Bull had wasn’t just down to what they did right, it’s what others did wrong.
“And I think that’s the big story of the season for me: Regulation change, Red Bull got it right, others fell by the wayside.”
Verstappen the key to RB18 success
The fact that the Red Bull’s success was due to the RB18 partnership with Max Verstappen is born out in a number of statistical measures.
In the entire F1 turbo hybrid era only 5 races have been won from starting outside the top 6 grid positions, yet Verstappen delivered 3 in 4 consecutive events during the 2022 season.
If the RB18 isn’t Newey’s best car design ever, then could it be the evolved and improved 2023 iteration dominates the field even more?
Our 2022 Wrapped… 😍 Coming soon 👀 pic.twitter.com/0kPBK4TOwK
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) December 20, 2022