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Why did Red Bull have such a difficult weekend in Australia?

Why did Red Bull have such a difficult weekend in Australia?

19-04-2022 15:58 Last update: 17:17

Red Bull Racing had a difficult weekend in Australia. That was especially true for Max Verstappen, as Sergio Perez fared quite well at Albert Park. The weekend ended with a retirement for the Dutchman, but things weren't great before then either. What was the cause of this?

Given the high top speeds the RB18 achieved on the straight, the general assumption was that the revamped Albert Park would suit the Red Bulls quite well. For Perez, this proved to be the case indeed, as he was able to keep up with his usually faster teammate excellently throughout the weekend.

Verstappen, on the other hand, was searching. There was no setup that gave him the confidence he needed to compete with Charles Leclerc, but during Sunday's race the problem for Red Bull proved even greater. The pace of the Ferrari F1-75 was simply too much for the RB18.

Problems for Red Bull in tyres and balance

Where was the reason for these problems? In part, the cause was to be found in tyre degradation, which Red Bull Racing was particularly troubled by in Melbourne. This in contrast to Ferrari, but also Mercedes and a number of other teams.

The same can be seen in the telemetry of the race: both Verstappen and Perez set significantly faster lap times after the change to the hard tyre than on the mediums. In the laps before his retirement Verstappen even crept closer to Leclerc. Perez also managed to match Leclerc's lap times on the hard tyre on several occasions.

On top of the problems with the medium tyres, Red Bull could not find the right balance. For the Austrian racing team this proved to be a much bigger task than for Ferrari, who almost immediately get the right set-up in all circumstances.

Will Red Bull fare better in Imola?

In 2021 Red Bull Racing was rock solid at Imola, enabling Verstappen to win his first race of the year. However, the new rules have completely shaken up the playing field and it may be clear that Ferrari goes into the weekend as the big favorite. Still, such a big difference as in Melbourne is not in the cards.

Red Bull may not bring any significant updates - although the team remains vague about that possibility - but according to Marko, the RB18 should already have lost a significant portion of its excess weight. If the engineers led by Adrian Newey have indeed done that, there may be a big time gain for Verstappen and Perez.

Characteristics of Imola

Then there are the characteristics of the circuit. Engine power plays a big role at Imola given the amount of time at full throttle. This may be an advantage for Red Bull Racing, mainly in the fast first sector. At the same time, the rest of the track consists mainly of medium and low speed corners, where Ferrari is very strong.

Everything points to another exciting duel between Red Bull and Ferrari, as we have seen in the first two races of the season. Both teams have a totally different car, each with their own very strong and less strong points.

However, those points may prove to be of lesser importance if the weather forecast comes true: rain is expected in Imola, especially on Friday and Saturday. This means that the teams will have to reckon with a dry race, which will pose an extra big challenge for Red Bull in particular.

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