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Red Bull first to launch?

NEWS STORY
03/02/2022

Clearly throwing down an early gauntlet, Red Bull looks likely to be the first team to unveil its 2022 contender.

Amidst media claims that, like Mercedes, the RB18 failed its crash test - a claim the German team dismissed by confirming the car’s official homologation - Red Bull has this morning announced that the wraps will be pulled off the car Max Verstappen will use to defend his title on Wednesday 9 March.

Previously, Aston Martin, which unveils its contender next Thursday, looked set to be on 'launch pole', but the 2021 constructors' championship runners-up have stolen their thunder.

The Austrian team's announcement comes at a time there is continued speculation over Mercedes line-up, with Lewis Hamilton yet to confirm his decision following claims by Toto Wolff that the even ts of Abu Dhabi had caused the seven-time world champion to lose faith in the sport.

Today's news leaves Williams and Haas as the only teams still to confirm their launch dates.

While the car seen at next week's launch will bear little resemblance to the car that takes to the track in pre-season testing, far less the season opener just a few weeks later, the early launch suggests that the down-to-the-wire battle with Mercedes last season didn't cause the Austrian outfit to entirely lose focus.

This season sees Verstappen and Sergio Perez powered by Honda engines that are no longer officially works units, though the Japanese manufacturer has agreed to continue supplying power units until the introduction of the new formula in 2026.

Whatever Hamilton's decision - and the smart money is on the Briton targeting his eighth title and preventing Verstappen claiming his second, the team will need Perez to be on the pace from the outset this season.

Like a number of drivers who changed berths over the winter of 2020 the Mexican took a while to find his feet, and while he put in some strong performance over the course of the season, particularly when most needed in Abu Dhabi, all too often he was not where he needed to be in order to give his teammate the support he needed, qualifying being a particular issue.

Though Mercedes claimed an eighth Constructors' Championship last season, losing out to Red Bull in the Drivers' Championship will have hurt, especially the way it happened.

While it is hoped the rules overhaul will open up the title fight to other teams, today's announcement of a particularly early launch is likely to be seen as a clear warning shot across the bows of Red Bull's rivals.

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1. Posted by kenji, 03/02/2022 12:05

"Nice timing...seizing the Bull [Red ] by the horns..."

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