Red Bull should stop development for 2021
Red Bull would be Better off focusing on 2022
Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton deal another blow to Max Verstappen and Red Bull's title challenge. Mercedes pulled off a repeat of Hungary 2019 by surprising Red Bull with an unexpected pit stop followed by Lewis Hamilton chasing Max down to take the win. The victory takes Hamilton 14 points clear of Verstappen and Mercedes 29 points clear of Red Bull. Surely, now it's time for Red Bull to start focusing on 2022.
Red Bull's main aim for this season was to close the gap to Mercedes. This in turn would help them secure Max Verstappen for the foreseeable future and prevent him from going over to one of their rivals. It is safe to say that both these objectives have already been achieved.
The first 4 races have shown that Red Bull are much closer to Mercedes, if not faster. The Honda engine is at par with Mercedes and the Silver Arrows' power unit only produces more power when turned up to qualifying mode. The progress made over the past year should also put to rest any doubts in Max Verstappen's mind about Red Bull's ability to develop a championship contender and this should secure his future at the team atleast until 2022.
Red Bull have had a strong start to 2021. Photo: Getty Images
With the next race being in Monaco, a track where Red Bull are expected to be slower than Mercedes, another win for Hamilton with a second-place finish for Max would leave the Dutchman 21 points behind. Since Sergio Perez still seems to be struggling to get to grips with the car, points are at a premium for Red Bull. Thus, Red Bull should leave 2021 and start the development of next year's car.
If they start development for 2022, Red Bull would have quite a head start over Mercedes. If they ask Honda to put all their resources into next year's engine, they should end up with a better engine than Mercedes. Since the engines will get frozen till the end of 2025 once the cars leave their garages for the first qualifying session of 2022, the engine advantage would be very significant and would be a huge advantage for Red Bull in the next 4 seasons.
A more powerful engine combined with Adrian Newey's aerodynamic brilliance should make the RB17 a very strong car if Red Bull can get a good head start over Mercedes and capitalise on it.
The 2022 car will be very important for Red Bull. Photo: Davide Chiappini
Red Bull have spent a long time without being involved in a direct championship battle and their lack of recent experience is apparent through the mistakes they have made in every race so far this year. They should use the remainder of this year to learn and gather as much experience as they can about being in a championship fight and be ready to take on Mercedes with a much-improved car in 2022 and beyond.
If Red Bull stop the development of the RB16B in the next few weeks and start working on the RB17, they will surely come out of the blocks in 2022 much stronger than Mercedes and might even steal the march over their German rivals.