Jolyon Palmer on Red Bull’s team tactics

Jolyon Palmer on Red Bull’s team tactics

Jolyon Palmer, former Formula 1 driver and now an expert on the championship’s official website, discusses the tactics the Red Bull Racing team used in Barcelona and their possible consequences.

Neither a crash nor problems with the DRS system prevented Max Verstappen from winning the Spanish Grand Prix. With Charles Leclerc retiring and George Russell behind him, it looked like a showdown between Max and his teammate, Sergio Perez, was about to begin, but Red Bull Racing decided to use team tactics, which was somewhat surprising.

For Formula 1, such tactics are nothing new, in previous years there were several ugly stories when the drivers of the teams that claimed to win the championship were forced to give up the lead. Think Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa at Ferrari, or Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard at McLaren.

Usually riders, who sign a contract with top teams, understand that this is also one of the conditions and that you have to accept it. Last Sunday, however, Perez clearly tried to challenge this, and as a result his dismay is understandable.

Sergio was third in the individual classification before the Spanish Grand Prix and lost only 19 points to Verstappen. And while he is still inferior to his partner, he is already much closer to Max in terms of pace than last year.

In the eyes of many, it is Verstappen, the reigning world champion, who is once again really claiming the title, and so far he has only been hampered by equipment reliability problems, but this does not mean that Perez is ready to give up the dream of victories. Every driver believes in himself, especially when driving one of the best cars in the championship.

When we talk about the tactics Red Bull used in Barcelona, ​​each side has its own arguments.

First of all, all teams aim for maximum points and a winning double is an ideal result, so Red Bull wanted to make it easier for themselves. Therefore, they did not let their riders participate on the track, avoiding the risk of incidents and loss of points.

The team split the tactics and offered Verstappen a three-stop schedule that would allow him to fight for the win, but Perez, who would go the distance with two stops in the boxes, made it immediately clear that he could get ahead of Russell, who was behind whom Max was trapped at the time, as the DRS system on the Dutchman’s car was unstable.

But the team did not allow Sergio to do this and he was clearly unhappy. But Red Bull has its own arguments, because they certainly see Max as the main contender for the title, so he should be given the opportunity to earn as many points as possible. When choosing tactics, the team will always create the most favorable conditions for him.

But I’m not sure if there was a need for this in Spain. In addition, Red Bull could face avoidable problems in the future.

After the third pit stop, Verstappen had a noticeable pace advantage anyway and I think he could have easily overtaken Perez on the track. This is exactly what Carlos Sainz did in a three-stop race when he overtook Hamilton and Bottas, who were on a two-stop tactic, shortly before the finish.

It seems that the problems with DRS no longer bothered Max in the second half of the race – if this system still didn’t work, perhaps the team tactics would be more justified.

But the teams have to trust their drivers, believe in their ability to fight correctly on track, especially if they have fairly normal relationships, like Perez and Verstappen have now. There is no enmity between them, and this cannot be compared to the situations Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, or the same Hamilton and Fernando Alonso once found themselves in.

Max and Sergio are one of the best Formula 1 drivers and I’m sure they could fight on track without too much risk of collision. But in the end, it turned out that Perez was not in the best mood and did not hide it, communicating with the team on the radio.

On the one hand, he finished second, which gave the team a winning double. At the same time, however, Red Bull clearly outlined their priorities for this season and the Mexican is not happy about this so he wanted to discuss it after the race.

Last year he was clearly assigned the role of second fiddle, doing a good job. But if he is reassigned at the start of the 2022 season, will that affect his motivation?

The rider cannot ignore the orders of the team as she pays him a salary so he has to do what is asked of him. Especially if he is inferior to his partner in speed and sporting performance. The position of most riders in their teams is rather precarious, they have to follow orders or else they can be replaced.

But now another question arises: how will Ferrari act in the coming races if it finds itself in a similar situation?

Since Red Bull Racing is betting so clearly on Verstappen, the Scuderia also has to think about priorities. So far, Mattia Binotto has insisted that they allow Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz to compete, but given the form of both, it’s hard to imagine any other scenario than Leclerc fighting for the title.

It would be absolutely foolish for the partner to start taking points from him in this situation. So far it hasn’t come to that, but in time things can turn out like this, when Sainz manages to perform more successfully on one of the weekends. And then the topic of team tactics becomes relevant again.

Source: F1 News

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