(GMM) Red Bull and Max Verstappen are back in the fight for the 2022 world championship, after dominating on Ferrari’s home turf throughout the Imola race weekend.
As reigning world champion Verstappen cruised to victory on Sunday, having also won Saturday’s sprint race and pole position on Friday, championship leader Charles Leclerc made a critical error by spinning.
“It is painful, but I think he doesn’t need to hear that from me,” Verstappen, who closed the points gap to Leclerc to 27 points, said of the top Ferrari driver.
However, it was Ferrari and Leclerc who totally dominated just a fortnight ago in Melbourne, prompting Dutchman Verstappen to admit: “They are still very fast and Miami can be very different again.”
Dr Helmut Marko credited Red Bull’s resurgence to the team having taken a “risk” by introducing key car upgrades and weight-saving measures, even though the first sprint weekend of 2022 left precious little practice time.
“It was important for us to show the courage to install our upgrade despite having only one free practice session,” he said.
“That’s why an Aerodynamicist was on the podium at the end. This was the right answer to Melbourne.”
The 78-year-old Austrian – a top official at Red Bull – insisted he never thought the championship was essentially lost to Ferrari, even after Melbourne.
“We always knew that everything was still open,” Marko said. “We have two strong drivers. Perez is getting better and better so we’re slightly optimistic about the future.
“We always had confidence, but the reliability of the car was our biggest problem. Hopefully we have solved that.
“We knew we had to put the pressure on Ferrari. Leclerc spun several times on Friday and again in the race – he was very lucky to continue,” Marko added.
“That’s how we have to keep attacking them.”