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Exclusive: How Red Bull successfully adapted to F1's 2022 regulations

In an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com, Red Bull Chief Engineer Paul Monaghan explains how his team successfully adapted to F1's new technical regulations for 2022.

After a pandemic-induced delay of 12 months, 2022 saw the long-awaited arrival of a brand new set of F1 technical regulations aimed at making the racing more exciting. The new rules include tighter limits on bodywork, a move from 13-inch to 18-inch tyres, and the reintroduction of ground effect as a means of generating downforce. This ensured that teams had little to no carryover from their 2021 cars, forcing designers to start with a blank sheet of paper in penning their 2022 mounts. In the first season under F1's new rules, Red Bull emerged as the class of the field, winning both Drivers' and Constructors' titles with relative ease, with Max Verstappen setting a new record of 15 Grand Prix wins in a single season. But despite Red Bull seemingly having hit upon a winning formula in 2022, the team's Chief Designer Paul Monaghan says there were several hurdles to overcome in order to find the RB18's sweet spot. "Fundamentally, the aerodynamic demands of the 2022 car, in terms of how you operate it relative to the ground, are quite different to 2021 cars," Monaghan told RacingNews365.com . "At the end of 2021, everybody had a reasonable amount of rake in their car, with quite high rear ride heights. That's obviously changed with these [2022] cars. "How you generate the load is very different in a 2022 car, being effectively a ground effect car. The biggest thing is where you operate it relative to the ground, and how you extract your downforce from it. "If you want to run lower rear ride heights, your vertical travel in the rear axle is probably going to be less, and if you're making similar load at the end of a straight, clearly the stiffness will be high. There are your fundamental differences."

Red Bull's design proves the class of the field

Many within F1 thought that the restrictive nature of the 2022 regulations would result in a field of virtually identical-looking cars. In reality, however, there was a considerable diversity of design throughout the pit lane, with Mercedes' uniquely-tapered sidepods setting tongues wagging when they broke cover during pre-season testing. With Red Bull soon proving to be among the pace-setters, other teams seemingly looked to the RB18 for inspiration, with Aston Martin and Williams both introducing mid-season updates that seemed to echo Red Bull's chosen philosophy. Did the team have any doubts it had chosen the right path during pre-season testing? "Within your own four walls, you look at the results, and you make your own judgment on how you proceed to have a car that's good in all disciplines and on all circuits," says Monaghan. "We took our route, but you go to that first test and you think, 'Okay, have we actually made the right choices? Have we got to revise our choices?' Because it's only relative to the others that you're judged." "Were our compromises at the start of the year correct? Not all of them. Did we evolve with it? Yes."

Paying tribute to Red Bull's team

After three mechanical retirements across 2022's first three races threatened to derail Red Bull's title challenge, the drinks-backed team soon ironed out their unreliability problems to lodge a record-breaking season in terms of wins and championship points. With nearest rivals Ferrari also suffering from poor reliability and driver error at key moments during the year, Verstappen also converted likely second places into victories in Spain, France and Baku, and Monaghan paid tribute to Red Bull's sterling work during 2022. "With the skill of the team in its research, its design, its realisation and its operation, we accomplished a very competitive year, and with the results that came our way and the ones we won outright, we prevailed this year," said Monaghan. "Was our concept different from everybody else's? Possibly. Was our concept fundamentally good? I think it was."

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