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How can Red Bull improve in the battle with Mercedes and Ferrari?

Although Red Bull dominated the competition with the RB18 in 2022, there is still room for more performance in a few areas.

Red Bull broke a lot of records in 2022 with their dominant RB18, breaking records previously held by Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari era. But as with all top sports teams, they strive for perfection. So what would have made that a perfect season for Red Bull in 2022? And what needs to be improved to ensure they keep on top of their main threats Mercedes and Ferrari?

Close to the weight limit

Red Bull is among several teams that produced a car at the start of 2022 that was overweight. This was a byproduct of the new regulations, with weight reduction now a lot harder and most costly than it used to be. The team managed to get close to the 798kg limit during the course of the season, but Technical Director Pierre Wache told RacingNews365.com that they are still around 12kg over that limit. In 2023 the cars must be two kilograms lighter, which makes it an even tricker task for Red Bull. But should they manage to get under the weight limit, it will be a significant tool against the opposition.

Qualifying performance

Historically Max Verstappen has never been the best qualifier in his seven-year F1 career, achieving just 20 pole positions to his name - the first being at Hungary in 2019. Likewise, Perez only scored his maiden pole at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2022. Even though the RB18 produced 17 wins, they couldn't beat Ferrari in qualifying who produced 12 poles between Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Points are distributed on Sunday, but at some tracks it's important to have the track position early on to ensure a win. Qualifying will no doubt be a weakness they aim to rectify in 2023.

Pit stop mistakes

Red Bull is still one of the fastest pit crews in F1, winning multiple 'Fastest Pit Stop Awards' during the 2022 season. But things did not always go smoothly for the team during their stops, with mistakes often costing them track position - much to the dismay of their drivers. At the US Grand Prix a stuck wheel nut was the standout issue for Verstappen, who nearly lost the shot at a win and sealing the Constructors' Championship. Verstappen could rectify it with his pure performance on track, but Red Bull should be wary of any issues that need improving going into 2023.

Getting rid of the 'second driver' label

It was a solid performance from Sergio Perez in 2022, however more could be done from the Mexican to finish on the podium more regularly. Given the pace of Red Bull relative to the Ferrari towards the end of the season, the question of whether Perez could secure second in the championship should not have been difficult to answer. Looking at the average gaps throughout the season, Perez was 0.331s slower compared to Verstappen in qualifying. That same gulf was around 0.125s for Ferrari and 0.012s for Mercedes. Perez has shown on occasion that he can beat Verstappen on pure pace since joining Red Bull, with this arguably his last shot at being in a championship-winning car. More should be done in 2023 to get rid of his 'second driver' label, especially if both Mercedes and Ferrari end up closer.

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