Why Red Bull, fresh off making history, now looks to avoid repeating it

Red Bull made Formula 1 history last weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, winning their 12th race in a row. That string of victories set a new standard in the sport, breaking the mark set by McLaren when they won 11 races to open the 1988 season.

But having made history, the team is now looking to avoid repeating it over the course of the rest of the season, according to Adrian Newey, the team’s Chief Technical Officer.

Speaking with the F1 Nation podcast in the wake of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Newey discussed how the team is staying focused on their goals for 2023, despite running away with things this year. Max Verstappen has a dominant lead in the Drivers’ Championship at the moment, sitting 110 points clear of teammate Sergio Pèrez atop the table.

As for the Constructors’ Championship a second-straight title for the Bulls looks all but assured, with Red Bull currently 229 points clear of Mercedes.

While that has led to speculation that Red Bull is going to focus their efforts on developing their car for 2024, that is not the case. The team brought some upgrades to the RB19 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, and Newey told the F1 Nation podcast that the team is hoping to avoid what befell him and McLaren in 1999.

Newey joined McLaren for the 1997 season, with his first focus the development of their car for the 1998 season. That car, the MP4/13, was the dominant force during the 1998 campaign, as McLaren won the Constructors’ title and driver Mika Häkkinen won the Drivers’ Championship, with teammate — and current F1 analyst David Coulthard — finishing third.

The following year, McLaren again looked in good shape for a pair of titles. Early in the year Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher were locked in a tight battle atop the Drivers’ standings, as they were during the 1998 season. But Schumacher suffered a broken leg in the British Grand Prix, costing him his season.

Many believed that would allow Häkkinen and McLaren to coast to titles yet again, but that was not to be. The team struggled the rest of the season, as Häkkinen suffered a retirement of his own at the British Grand Prix, as well as retirements in the German Grand Prix and the Italian Grand Prix.

As for Coulthard, his year came to a close with three-straight retirements, first at the European Grand Prix, then at the Malaysian Grand Prix and finally the Japanese Grand Prix.

That meant the titles came down to the season finale in Japan. While Häkkinen held off Schumacher — who had recovered and returned for the Malaysian GP — to win in Japan and secure his second-straight title, Ferrari was able to nip McLaren by four points to secure the Constructors’ Championship.

McLaren had an eight-point advantage in the standings with two races to go, but Ferrari was able to catch them.

It is a mistake Newey does not want to relive.

“I remember very clearly in 1999 when Mika was leading going into Silverstone,” Newey told the F1 Nation podcast.

“Michael had his accident, broke his leg obviously, and, as a team to be perfectly honest, we fell asleep for the rest of the year and it ended up going down to the wire between Mika and Eddie Irvine and we lost the Constructors’.”

The conclusion, from Newey’s perspective?

Red Bull cannot rest yet.

“So it’s a salient lesson that, no matter how good things look, you have to keep pushing, you have to keep on your toes.”

This post was originally published on this site