Tagged in: red bull

Max Verstappen will run number one on car as champion in 2022

Max Verstappen has confirmed he will run the number one on his car in 2022 as Formula One world champion, something no driver has done in F1 since 2014.

There has not been a number one car on the F1 grid since Sebastian Vettel’s in 2014, when the Red Bull driver was a defending four-time world champion.

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Since then, Lewis Hamilton has opted to keep his career number 44, while Nico Rosberg retired after winning the championship in 2016, meaning he did not have the chance to run it the following season.

Verstappen, who normally races with number 33, wants to make the switch for 2022.

“Yeah, I will run it,” Verstappen said on the subject. “How many times can you do that? I don’t know, maybe it’s the only time I can in my life.

“I think it’s the best number out there. I will definitely put it on the car.”

Verstappen’s championship was confirmed late on Sunday evening after the FIA dismissed a protest into how the final laps of the race unfolded.

A late safety car period helped Verstappen pit for fresh tyres, with a controversial FIA call to let lapped cars unlap themselves effectively moving Verstappen right up behind Hamilton for the restart.

When that restart took place, Verstappen caught and passed Hamilton and held the lead to claim his maiden championship.

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Title battle too close for comfort, says Mercedes boss Toto Wolff

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff expects the Formula One title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull rival Max Verstappen to rage deep into the 2021 campaign, with the gap between the pair too close for comfort.

The 36-year-old Hamilton turned a five-point deficit to his 23-year-old Dutch rival into a two-point lead in the overall standings after racing to a landmark 100th victory in the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The duo have been engaged in a fierce battle all year long, with Hamilton aiming to become the first driver to win eight Formula One titles, as Verstappen hunts down his first championship triumph.

Thirty-two points is the widest the gap between the two has been, with the overall lead changing hands four times this year and three times in the last five races. There are seven races to go.

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“I think neither driver or neither team can have any comfort in the current situation because there is just no gap in terms of points,” Wolff, whose team is 33 points clear of Red Bull in the team standings, told reporters via video conference on Sunday.

“I think this is going to go very long.”

The 2014 Olympic Park venue that hosted Sunday’s race and Monza, scene of the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago, have traditionally been tracks that have played to Mercedes’ strengths.

While Hamilton seized back the overall lead in Russia and kept his team’s undefeated run in Sochi intact, he and Mercedes would have hoped to have come away with more.

The points difference between Verstappen and Hamilton was unchanged after the pair put each other out of the race in Monza.

In Russia, Verstappen concluded second, despite having started last after taking on a new engine.

Of the seven races to come, only Turkey, where Hamilton clinched his seventh title last year, appears to be a clear Mercedes favorite.

Hamilton may also need to take on a new power unit, which like Verstappen in Russia, would trigger penalties, sending him to the back of the grid.

“I’ve stopped trying to anticipate whether it’s a historically strong race for us or not because with the new regulation everything has changed so much,” said Wolff.

“But definitely we knew that Monza and Sochi would be coming more towards us and the reality is that we are where we are.”

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Hamilton plays down blow of another loss to Verstappen

Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton played down the pain of his latest defeat by Formula One leader Max Verstappen in France on Sunday and said the race was a real reflection of Red Bull’s pace.

The Briton had won at Le Castellet in 2018 and 2019, with no race last year due to COVID-19, but his hopes of a hat-trick ended when resurgent Red Bull out-smarted the champions on strategy.

The seventh race of the season was a reversal of the Spanish Grand Prix in May when Hamilton hunted down Verstappen, who stated then that he felt like a sitting duck, in the closing laps to win.

This time it was the champion who was on the receiving end as Verstappen made a second pitstop and used his fresher tyres to make up the time and overhaul Hamilton on the penultimate lap.

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Asked how gut-wrenching the feeling had been, Hamilton — now 12 points behind his Dutch rival — said it had not been at all.

“I think we did a great job today and it just didn’t work out,” he added.

“I’m not massively disappointed. I think I did the best job I could today. Of course, there were things we could probably have done slightly better but overall they have been quicker than us all weekend.

“It’s a true reflection of the pace they have.”

Hamilton had arrived at Le Castellet having scored just seven points from the past two races won by Red Bull and lagging Verstappen by four.

The 36-year-old recognized that another chance to win had e slipped through his fingers, his tally still stuck at a record 98 career victories.

“If we look in hindsight for sure if we’d have stopped earlier, before they stopped and come out ahead and just gone onto a two stop, we probably could have won the race,” he said.

“But it would still have been very difficult. Their pace was generally very, very strong.

“If he (Verstappen) had not made a mistake in turn one, they would have just led the race all the way probably.”

Verstappen started on pole but went wide at the start, letting Hamilton to take the lead which the Mercedes driver held until the pitstops, when the Dutch driver got back in front before taking a gamble and pitting again.

“Lewis’s tyres were really worn,” Verstappen said of the closing stages. “It was a fairly easy pass.”

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Horner sees great races ahead for Perez despite Imola blank

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner forecast great races ahead for Sergio Perez despite the Mexican failing to score from his first front row start in Formula One on Sunday.

The 31-year-old driver, now a veteran of 193 races, concluded 12th in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola while Dutch team mate and title contender Max Verstappen won from third on the grid.

Perez lost out at the start as Verstappen took the lead from Mercedes’ seven-times champion Lewis Hamilton, on pole, with the Mexican dropping to third and then fourth as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went past.

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He then collected a 10 second penalty for overtaking while the safety car was deployed but was fourth again by the time the race was halted halfway through. Following the restart he spun and dropped to 14th.

“It was tough for him, he had such a good Saturday. The race just didn’t go his way,” said team boss Christian Horner.

“A couple of little mistakes, particularly the spin behind the Ferrari. Tough for him because we should have taken a lot more points out of Mercedes.

“He had good pace in the race and there’s still a long, long way to go.”

Horner stated Perez, a winner in Bahrain with Racing Point (now Aston Martin) last year, just needed time to get used to the adjustment of car.

“It’s different to what he’s used to. He did a mega job to put it on the front row, only just missed out on that pole position,” he said.

“There’s great races to come from him in the future. We could see in clean air his pace was strong.”

The Mexican ended fifth in his first race for Red Bull in Bahrain after starting in the pit lane.

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Verstappen to stay at Red Bull until 2023

Max Verstappen has signed to stay at Red Bull until the end of 2023 in a clear vote of confidence in the former championship-winning team’s Formula One title potential and its Honda partnership.

The announcement on Tuesday leaves two of the top three teams with young driver talent secure for the long-term, with Ferrari announcing in December that Charles Leclerc was staying to 2024.

“I am really happy to have extended my partnership with the team. Red Bull believed in me and gave me the opportunity to start in Formula One which I have always been very grateful for,” Verstappen, 22, said in a statement.

“Over the years I have grown closer and closer with the team and besides the passion from everyone and the on-track performance it is also really enjoyable to work with such a great group of people.

“Honda coming onboard and the progress we have made over the last 12 months gives me even more motivation and the belief that we can win together…I want to win with Red Bull and our goal is of course to fight for a World Championship together.”

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Red Bull concluded third last year in the first season of a new partnership with Honda, which proved an immediate success after the Japanese manufacturer’s failed relationship with McLaren.

Verstappen was best of the rest behind Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

The rumour mill will now focus more on six-times world champion Hamilton, who is out of contract at the end of this year, and the future of Leclerc’s four-times champion team mate Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen won three races in 2019, and holds a career total of eight F1 victories, and is seen as a champion-in-waiting.

The Dutchman, who in 2016 became the youngest ever race winner in the sport’s history, had been linked to both Ferrari and Mercedes in paddock speculation.

Formula One is about to enter a new era in 2021 with sweeping rule changes and what owners Liberty Media hope will be a more level playing field.

“Max has proven what an asset he is to the team, he truly believes in the partnership we have forged with our engine supplier Honda, and we are delighted to have extended our relationship with him.”

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