Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull Racing has proven him wrong with the size and quality of Formula 1 team it has evolved into despite representing an energy drink brand.
Red Bull won four consecutive championship doubles from 2010-13, secured last year’s drivers’ championship with Max Verstappen, and comfortably leads the standings this season. Hamilton says the way that Red Bull has been able to build such competitive cars independent of the expertise within a manufacturer such as Mercedes is impressive and deserves praise.
“It’s more (being) impressed with Adrian Newey and his team,” Hamilton said. “I think it is a great team. They’ve generally had really great cars for some time. They used to have really high ride height and had more drag than before, and I think they’ve realized and experienced this year that their engine isn’t slower than others, it was more that they had a lot more drag in previous years.
“They’ve done a fantastic job and anything I’ve said in the past about the team, I didn’t mean it in a negative way. I think years ago I said something about them being a drinks company, and I was just really highlighting that you would bet more on a car company, but they’ve proved me wrong — and everyone.
“But also, knowing that Adrian did his thesis on ground effect cars when he was at university, it’s no surprise what he has done and created this year. It is impressive but I believe in the young guns in my team and that we will catch up.”
Despite Red Bull dominating this season’s championship fights and Mercedes lagging behind in third place, Hamilton insists he’s energized by the challenge of trying to catch up.
“I don’t see it is a chore — I generally love the work we are doing, whether we are fighting for first or wherever we are fighting for. I still love getting in a huddle with the engineers and mechanics, and I love that we have these back-to-backs because if you have a crap weekend you can get back on it quickly.
“I still love the challenge of fighting this car, because you get in it and it is a fight. Jeez, the amount of engineering that we do to dial it in is tricky and I would say that it probably increases your accessibility to improve your engineering side. So I’m enjoying that.
“I don’t ever want to wish time by, so I don’t want to wish this season goes by quicker. There will be a lot of information to gain in this second half of the season and as a driver I want to figure out how I can improve and make sure things like the last race (in which he crashed out on the first lap) don’t happen.
“Just now I am really focused on trying to articulate exactly what I am feeling in the car and what I want in next year’s car, and making sure it gets done. It all moves so quickly and they’ve already got to sign off the brakes or the front suspension now and the gearbox gets signed off now; everything gets done so far in advance, so it’s making sure you catch them before they sign off those things and get things in the pipeline that maybe in the past we have not had time to really focus on and get a better foundation for the future.
“I’m enjoying it, and we’ve won the last eight constructors’ titles — I have every bit of faith in my team that I will get there, just with the cost cap and wind tunnel time it is not as easy and simple as it was before. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get there.”