Horner says running #1 on Verstappen's car has 'energised' Red Bull
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said the satisfaction of running #1 on reigning champion Max Verstappen’s car has spurred the team on to fight in 2022.
Verstappen has made no bones about his desire to run the #1 on his RB18 contender this year, a privilege afforded to the reigning drivers’ champion but last enjoyed in a full-time season by Sebastian Vettel in 2014 – for Red Bull. Horner spoke about the catalytic effect his driver’s success has had upon the outfit.
“I mean, sticking that number one on the car after all the pain that we went through last year, the fight that it was in 2021, and now the fight is to make sure we retain it on the car... it’s just energised everyone in the team,” he said.
“You can see a spring in everybody’s step and it gives people confidence as well, which is such an important thing in any sport – which is to not have arrogance, but confidence – and I think that runs through the organisation.”
Red Bull completed their three-day Barcelona programme with 258 laps and a best time of 1m 19.556s set by Sergio Perez on the final afternoon. Their boss was clearly optimistic, calling it an “encouraging start” – and expressed his anticipation for the battle that lies ahead with Mercedes and, perhaps, Ferrari and McLaren.
“Yes, so far it’s great to be back on track – these new cars are very, very different, so it’s sort of a ‘get to know you’ process with this new car, the RB18, and so far, the feedback’s been good. It’s behaving as we expected and as our tools predicted. So, it’s been an encouraging start,” he continued.
The campaign starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20, which takes place after the Official Pre-Season Test on March 10-12.
“It’s what everybody wants to see. You want to see the best drivers in the world, fighting wheel-to-wheel, and I think Ferrari could be in there this year, McLaren looking strong, so you might have a few candidates – and don’t forget George Russell. I think he’s going to be a key component in this championship, as well.”