Red Bull ‘feeling pressure’ after challenging start to Emilia Romagna GP weekend

Red Bull were the third fastest time in FP1 at Imola after Ferrari and Mercedes brought upgrades. Are they feeling the heat?

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Red Bull‘s technical director revealed that the team are feeling the pressure from their Formula 1 rivals as they bid to add performance to their car after a very challenging practice session at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Pierre Wache made the admission following a Free Practice 1 that saw an out-of-sorts Red Bull fail to get their car under control during the one hour session on the same weekend that their rivals put the pressure on by bringing waves of upgrades.

They finished the session as the third fastest car behind Ferrari and Mercedes, with Sergio Perez being fourth fastest overall but a substantial three tenths off the pace of Charles Leclerc in their first Grand Prix without the calming guide of Adrian Newey, who quit the F1 team in early May.

It resulted in Max Verstappen being slower than Sergio Perez throughout FP1 on Friday and made a plethora of unforced errors as he kept going into the gravel at Turns 11, 12 and 13.

The frustration grew so much for the world champion that after his last mistake, he was spotted punching his steering wheel in anger, but the news gets worse for the championship leaders.

“We feel pressure to put performance on the car,” Wache told press after FP1. “I think all people here feel the pressure to put performance in the car.

“It would be a dream to think that we can sleep on it and think we can wait and wins the championship like that, in this business you have to go ahead otherwise you go backward.

“We are we are looking to performance on the car, it doesn’t matter if in the last race [Miami GP] we won or not.”

Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull during 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull during 2024 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Is Verstappen struggling without Newey?

It’s not very often that Max Verstappen fails to have his eye locked in around an F1 circuit, and it’s even rarer that he fails to replicate blistering consistency, but on Friday he lacked both of those qualities at the Imola Circuit.

The Dutchman particularly struggled with Acque Minerali, where he kept running wide into the gravel, but he also made a major mistake at Turn 14 too when he had to catch oversteer and bail out over the grass.

So, in the first race without Newey present to be able to guide the set-up direction of Red Bull and to use his intimate and expert knowledge of the workings of an F1 car, is Verstappen and his engineers struggling without the 65-year-old’s careful hand?

“I think with knowing Adrian,” Wache began. “I know everybody in this business knows Adrian is a big, big man in. Maybe the most successful engineer in F1.

“I think he’s had a big effect for us, but, the team was prepared. It’s not like we expected him for 20 years more. We have to build a team around and make sure that we are prepared for this eventuality [resignation].”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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