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Red Bull tested 2022 car to address Verstappen's struggles

Red Bull tested 2022 car to address Verstappen's struggles
© Reuters
Red Bull has confirmed that Max Verstappen was given a private session in the championship-winning 2022 car earlier this week to serve as a "reference" for addressing issues with this year's model.

Red Bull has confirmed that Max Verstappen was given a private session in the championship-winning 2022 car earlier this week to serve as a "reference" for addressing issues with this year's model.

Following his test at Imola, the Dutch driver managed only fifth place with the 2024 car in Friday's practice session in Barcelona, yet Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko was more optimistic than he has been in recent weeks.

"That was one of our best Fridays in a long time," he commented.

"It's not going as badly as fifth would suggest. We didn't use full power, so it's not that alarming and the long runs were ok."

The Barcelona circuit seems to be more favorable for the 2024 Red Bull compared to previous races at Monaco or Canada, possibly aided by the "reference" test in the 2022 car. "We wanted to give Max a reference of a previous car," explained chief engineer Paul Monaghan to the press in Spain.

"If you try to determine the weak and strong points of the current car, it's possible that he thinks 'Ah, in previous years it was like this or like that'.

"Max was able to give us good feedback, and now it's up to us to decide what we do with it. We're just giving him a different reference point," Monaghan elaborated.

Marko pointed out that the upcoming races in Barcelona, Austria, and Silverstone will be crucial for evaluating Red Bull's championship aspirations this season.

"If you are at the top in these three races, then you have almost all of the permanent race tracks under control," he told Kleine Zeitung. "This is where the true balance of power will be revealed."

However, there are additional concerns at Red Bull, particularly as Verstappen feels the pressure of aiming for his fourth consecutive title while his teammate Sergio Perez is noticeably struggling.

"We have to look at Perez and see what the problem is," Marko mentioned, referring to Perez's disappointing 13th place in Friday's practice. "The gap is too big."

Former F1 driver Christijan Albers believes that Perez's new contract for 2025 might be heavily conditional.

"I think they have learned from last year and the year before that," he told Viaplay. "They surely have clauses in that contract."

Albers also noted that Perez's difficulties are becoming starkly evident now that Red Bull does not dominate as it once did.

"The situation is really exactly the same as in all previous years," he observed. "But with a gap of three or four tenths, he's suddenly thirteenth now."

In a discussion with El Mundo Deportivo in Barcelona, even the 34-year-old Perez acknowledges the precarious nature of contracts at Red Bull.
"Definitely," he said. "Here at Red Bull you have to earn everything that comes to you. You have to earn it right there on the track."

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Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko is seen before practice on March 8, 2024
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