Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted his team will follow the lead of Ferrari and Mercedes in not bringing in major upgrades ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend. The decision comes after their rivals confirmed they would not be drastically adding to their car so early in the season.
Red Bull have had a turbulent season thus far in 2022, with reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen embodying their strange start to the season. Verstappen, along with teammate Sergio Perez, failed to finish the season-opening race in Bahrain before bouncing back to win in Saudi Arabia.
However, the Dutchman once again suffered mechanical issues at the Australian Grand Prix as he retired the car while Perez secured P2 behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. As a result of their reliability problems, the Milton Keynes-based outfit have now slipped to third in the Constructors’ Championship behind bitter rivals Mercedes.
Horner’s team will hope for greater success in Imola, which will be the site of the first Sprint event of the season. With only two practice sessions rather than three, there will be less time for teams to prepare – which is why Horner declared no large updates would be added to the car.
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“I wouldn’t say [we are bringing] a big package,” Horner told media members when asked about the Red Bull’s upgrade plans for Imola. “It’s all part of the evolution but, of course, being a Sprint race, you get very little time to evaluate these things.
“You’ve got one [practice] session and then you’re into qualifying, so you’ve got to be very confident about what you’re putting on the car.”
His comments come after Mercedes chief Toto Wolff insisted it wouldn’t ‘make any sense’ to bring in upgrades ahead of the Italian race this weekend, despite the Silver Arrows’ early season frustrations. He believes the octuple world champions simply need to unlock the car’s ‘aerodynamic potential’ after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell secured P4 and P3 respectively last time out.
As for championship pace-setters Ferrari, team principal Mattia Binotto played down reports that a major upgrade was being brought in ahead of this weekend’s race. The Italian team are reportedly focused on engine reliability until at least Miami at the earliest, with Binotto adding that Imola was never going to be a site to test new upgrades due to the restricted time on track amid the Sprint race.
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Binotto confirmed a few changes are expected as Ferrari look to address the porpoising issue which was clear at the Australian Grand Prix – but he suggested major upgrades won’t be brought in until ‘later in the season’. As for Red Bull, Horner is still confident the team can overcome the technical issues plaguing their season.
“I think it’s all part of the the evolution and development of these cars,” the 48-year-old said. “So as we learn more about the tyres and how the cars are performing, that gives you a development direction and I think, over the first few races, we’ve got some very good direction for the development vein for the rest of the season.”
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 24.