“Bullshit” comments from Wolff says Verstappen – The usual war of words between Red Bull Racing and Mercedes has yet to boil over this year. The Formula One bitter rivalry developed during the years Mercedes dominated the sport and came to a head during the epic 2021 season which was decided on the last lap of the last race.
The ticking time bomb which may yet explode in the paddock is awaiting the FIA’s announcement revealing which teams are compliant with the cost cap regulations and who is in breach.
Paddock niggles continue
The FIA once again has failed to deliver the results of its financial audits in a timely fashion and for now there is no indication they will be revealed at the Italian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton has caused a certain amount of intrigue amongst F1 observers with his comments this week stating “we’ve been caught off guard with the cost cap.”
Yet the seven times world champion did not explain further exactly what this means for Mercedes. Toto Wolff told assembled media in June that the FIA have visited Brackley repeatedly with “tonnes of questions” implying this year the regulatory body has stepped up their deep dive into the team’s finances.
Despite no explosion to date, the niggles between the two F1 teams continues though mostly at a low level for now. Most recently Wolff stirred the pot by questioning whether Red Bull were favouring Max and providing him with the car designed exactly to his driving requirements.
Wolff suggests Perez nobbled
Of course the implication was Sergio Perez is at a disadvantage which would go some way to explain the huge gulf between the performance of the two Red Bull drivers over the races this season.
“Checo’s not an idiot,” observed the Mercedes boss. “We have seen in all these years Checo is a Grand Prix winner, multiple Grand Prix winner, and he was at Racing Point, so I cannot comprehend.
“We’ve seen that Max has destroyed every single team-mate that was with him, whether it’s his ability to create a car around himself, that is just very tricky to control but fast if you can, and that creates those gaps. But I haven’t heard any obvious explanations. But yeah, odd.”
Of course the F1 team’s design engineers must take into consideration the feedback they receive from the drivers when considering how they create their prototype racing vehicles.
Hamilton demands design considerations
Lewis Hamilton famously attacked his own Mercedes engineers earlier this season claiming they didn’t listen to him when the W124 was conceived.
”Last year, there were things I told them. I said the issues that are with the car,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve driven so many cars in my life. I know what a car needs. I know what a car doesn’t need. I think it’s really about accountability.”
Hamilton continued in what many felt was a call for heads to roll by calling for someone to be held responsible.
“It’s about owning up and saying, ‘Yeah, you know what? We didn’t listen to you. It’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.”
Verstappen calls Wolff’s comments “BULLSHIT”
However, the suggestion from Toto Wolff appears to suggest Red Bull have a more nefarious agenda and knowingly have built a car that Sergio Perez is incapable of driving well. The flip side is the RB19 is perfectly suited to Verstappen’s needs and is the reason he is so far ahead of his team mate and the rest of the F1 field.
Max Verstappen this weekend has taken exception to Wolff’s intervention insisting the Red Bull car is not specifically designed to suit his driving style despite the suggestions from the Mercedes’ boss.
“Bullshit comments!! It’s not like that,” retorted a clearly irritated Verstaoppen.
“I just drive the car the fastest way possible. I’m not there to tell the guys ‘give me more because that’s how I like it’.
Vettel counter intuitive driving
Verstappen’s modus operandi is reminiscent of Red Bull’s first multiple world champion, Sebastian Vettel. There was a continual debate over how he could drive a difficult car design in Milton Keynes while his team mate Mark Webber often struggled in the same equipment.
During the Vettel championship years (2010-2013) Red Bull with Renault designed a clever engine management setting which required the driver to take the corners in a counter intuitive driving style.
By applying partial throttle when a driver would usually be braking, the Red Bull Renault delivered exhaust gases which sealed the diffuser and created additional downforce.
Red Bull have clearly designed in the RB19 a car which is difficult to drive in a natural fashion as Verstappen reveals.
Max changes how he drives
“I just say to design me the fastest car and I’ll drive around that because every single year, every car drives a little bit differently.
“People ask ‘what is your driving style?’. My driving style is not something particular. I adapt to what I need for the car to go
quick. For me, what is very important is that you are able to adapt your driving style to what the car needs.”
The current generation of Formula One cars obtain around 50% of their downforce from low pressure created under the floor of the car. To a certain extent this is a ‘dark art’ in that it is difficult to see what the F1 teams are doing exactly unlike when they fit a new front or rear wing.
A number of theories have been propounded as to what Red Bull have done to develop such a dominant car capable of obliterating the field most weekends.
RB19 not easy to drive
One suggestion is Adrian Newey and his engineers have created a method which manages the centre of pressure under the car as it moves forwards and backwards during the braking phase.
This would clearly change the feel of the car’s balance mid corner and may be something Perez just can’t get to grips with and Verstappen has mastered.
The popular belief is Sergio started the season particularly well and then his performances have dropped off since he won two of the first four races.
Yet Verstappen recently admitted he struggled with this years RB19 earlier this year and it “took some time” for him to understand how best to drive the car.
When asked about his team mate as the Monza drivers’ press conference, Perez admitted he could not match the “100% consistency” his world champion team mate was delivering week in week out.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 31, 2023