At the start of the previous decade, shortly after Red Bull’s first drivers’ and constructors’ titles with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton questioned the footprint the team might leave in F1 over time.
« Red Bull is not a manufacturer, it’s a drinks company. It’s a drinks company against McLaren, the story of Ferrari. I don’t know what their plan is » he said, when he was driving for McLaren at the time.
Eleven years later, Red Bull dominated three more seasons with Vettel and then won the 2021 drivers’ title with Max Verstappen. This season the Dutchman and the Austrian side are on course to win both crowns, and Hamilton offered a mea culpa on his statement from 2011.
« Anything I could have said in the past about the team, I didn’t mean it in a negative way » he remembers. « I think years ago I said something about them being a beverage company and things like that. »
« It was really just to point out that we would have been more inclined to bet on a car manufacturer, more than on this team. But they proved me wrong and everyone and they did a great job. . »
Red Bull is doing ‘a fantastic job’
The seven-time world champion is full of praise: « They’re a great team. They’ve had really good cars for a while. They used to have really high ride heights and had more front drag. »
« I believe they realized and experienced this year that their engine is actually not slower than the others, it’s more that they had a lot more drag in previous years. They did a fantastic job. «
« They have great aerodynamic balance. They have great chassis quality. [Verstappen] never has problems with bumps. When you have a stable platform like that… And they had a great car last year as well. »
And Hamilton to salute the work of the designer of the Red Bull single-seaters: « Adrian Newey doesn’t usually design bad cars. He’s built some amazing cars over the years. The car I won my first championship in was an evolution of one of his cars. »
« Adrian did his thesis on ground effect cars in college, so it’s no surprise that what he’s done and created this year is impressive. He’s one of the only people drawing at the hand. His understanding was an advantage for them and they did a great job. But I believe that the youngsters in our team will help us. »
‘High chance’ of long Red Bull dominance
He now fears Red Bull will easily dominate the next few years, and believes only Ferrari and Mercedes F1 can prevent that from happening. According to him, the other teams are already out of the race to aim for world titles in this regulatory phase.
« Chances are that this has already happened. They are already on this path. It is going to be very difficult for the teams to close this gap. »
« If your car is fast one year, it evolves into a faster car the next year, so the gap they have now will be very difficult for anyone from third to last in this cycle of car design. »
« But we have won the last eight world titles. We have amazing and talented engineers. I have no doubt they are capable of it. There are limits with budget and wind tunnel and CFD time, we have to be very clear and precise in the direction we want to take, and very efficient in our time. »