Horner admits RB18 ‘won’t look very much like’ launch car, as Red Bull prepare to defend drivers’ title
The Red Bull RB18 broke cover for the first time on February 9, as the team – including reigning world champion Max Verstappen – launched their new challenger. But Team Principal Christian Horner said he expected to see the all-new breed of cars evolve “very, very quickly” over the course of the 2022 season.
The RB18 shown off to the public on Wednesday appeared to be a subtly reworked version of the 2022-spec Formula 1 showcar revealed last summer. And speaking at the car’s launch, Horner admitted that fans should expect the RB18 to look very different by the time the five lights go out at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.
“Because it’s new regulations, it’s going to evolve very, very quickly,” said Horner of the new RB18. “I think by the time we get to the first race, the car’s not going to look very much like this and I think the evolution will be very, very quick as we progress through the season.
“You’re always improving,” added Horner. “You can always learn from previous experiences. But of course, the complete new set of regulations is going to be all about the development; how quickly the teams get on top of the set of new regulations.
“It’s the biggest regulation change for probably 30 to 40 years in Formula 1, so development is going to be thick and fast, and of course with the cost [cap] it has to be efficient.”
Horner went on to praise the job done by Verstappen in 2021, when he claimed his first ever World Championship at the season finale in Abu Dhabi – with Horner adding that Red Bull’s chief aim was to defend the Dutchman’s drivers’ title in 2022, a year that will see the newly-formed Red Bull Powertrains take responsibility for the running of the RB18’s Honda-derived power units.
“Max was phenomenal last year,” said Horner, “an outstanding season for him. He dominated the amount of laps led, and 10 Grand Prix victories, and the World Championship. His confidence is going to be sky-high, and he'll be looking to build on those performances in 2022.
“Checo [Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez] in his first year, winning that race in Azerbaijan, other podiums, he is going to be stronger and taking a step up I am sure in 2022.
“We are aiming to build on what we achieved last year,” added Horner. “The target is to try and retain the title, and the big unknown is, have we missed something with these regulations, has another team stolen the march because of the focus and effort that went into 2021.
“We believe that we have a good car. RB18 is coming to life. Seeing it today is fantastic. It is a culmination of a huge effort from the team. I’m looking forward to seeing it out on the track in anger.”
The ‘seeing it out on the track in anger’ part should come at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 23, as F1’s pre-season running begins.