Red Bull chief tells team ‘we failed’ in peculiar compliment to Verstappen title

Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache has revealed that he believes that the team ‘failed’ on one front this season despite their immense success as they produced a car that only Max Verstappen felt comfortable behind the wheel of.

The Dutchman won 19 of the 22 Grands Prix in 2023 as he broke record after record en route to his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship title. However, on the other side of the Red Bull garage, the form was far less consistent.

Sergio Perez looked well set for the best season of his career after he won two of the first four races, marking his territory as a title contender. However, after being beaten by his team-mate after starting on pole position in Miami, the Mexican driver started to crumble, while Verstappen went on to win a record-breaking ten races on the bounce. 

According to Wache, Checo’s struggles are a symbol of one of the faults of the team’s 2023 season. In an interview with Formule1.NL, he said: “A fast car is a car that allows the driver to perform to the maximum. 

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“We failed in that respect because only one driver, Max, in this case, could handle it well. That is Max’s talent, that he managed to use the car well throughout the season and under different conditions. On the other hand, we in turn may not have properly understood Checo what he needs to get the potential out of the RB19.”

Perez’s struggles with the RB19 became so extreme after the summer break that losing second place in the Drivers’ Championship to Lewis Hamilton started to look like a genuine possibility. However, the 33-year-old clawed his form back with three consecutive top-four finishes to confirm Red Bull’s first-ever top-two lockout in the standings.

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According to him, that turnaround can largely be attributed to a major deep dive that he and Red Bull performed after the Qatar Grand Prix. “I had a really deep [hole] in Qatar, where I went back to the factory for a week and went through in very much detail with all the engineers and we understood a lot of things that we were doing to compensate the weaknesses that we had,” he explained.

“We were probably taking the wrong approach with the car, trying to compensate them too much with car set-up. I felt at that time that I needed it. We were just getting lost weekend in, weekend out, so it was just important to step back and really look in detail. And I think since then our season has transformed completely.”

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