Mark Webber believes his former team Red Bull and Max Verstappen could wrap the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship way before the 22-race season ends, simply because they relish the heat of competition, deliver under pressure while keeping it simple.
In four races, Verstappen has turned around a 19-point deficit to Charles Leclerc in the 2022 F1 championship standings before Barcelona to a handy 46 points lead over second-placed Sergio Perez such has been the dominance of Red Bull.
Meanwhile their main rivals for this year’s title – Ferrari – fumbled and stumbled with their lead driver Leclerc now 49 points behind Verstappen.
In a pre-British Grand Prix interview, Webber told The Guardian: “Red Bull will continue to dominate this championship. They have a car that is very good on downforce levels, on all compounds of tyre.
“It’s like a tennis player on all surfaces or a golfer on all holes, short, long, chipping, putting, driving, the Red Bull can do everything. Red Bull have pretty much an answer for anything at the moment, Max could wrap it up with three races to go.”
Webber, who drove for Red Bull from 2007 to 2013 as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate – and number two – will sense some deja vu in the Red Bull garage as Perez assumes the ‘support’ role for Verstappen’s charge.
The Blues will never say it, but it’s common knowledge that the team’s favourite is Max, and will always be as long as he is in Blue. A familiar template for success, the Red Bull way which Mark knows only too well. Remember Multi-21?
Mark: I know deep down they like the heat, delivering under pressure
“I like Sergio a lot but over the course of the season,” explained Webber. “But over time, Max will just find a way to start accumulating bigger points. In Azerbaijan, Max drove away down the road, it was a very emphatic victory. Then in Canada, it’s raining, it’s dry, it’s cold, it’s tricky and Max all weekend was phenomenal.”
Knowing the team well, Webber ventured why Red Bull have been so potent in the wake of last year’s hardcore battle with Mercedes, which still has the reigning constructors’ F1 World Champs on the ropes while their rivals canter ahead.
“I know deep down they like the heat, delivering under pressure,” explained Webber. “Strategically they are brave, they are quite free, even with the trophy cabinet they have, they don’t have paralysis by analysis. Give them a job and they just get on with it.
“Hanna Schmitz, the race strategist, she was there when I was there… The same people have been through the tough times and the great times, that’s something I really admire,” declared Webber, a nine-time Grand Prix winner with Red Bull.
F1 now heads to Silverstone for this weekend’s 2022 British Grand Prix, where last year’s race ended on lap one for Verstappen, after the infamous collision with Hamilton who went on to win the race for an unprecedented eighth time.
This year, Hamilton will struggle for a podium, maybe even points on home soil this next weekend, while Verstappen is the outright favourite to take top honours, and make it seven wins from ten starts come next Sunday evening at Silverstone.