While Mika Hakkinen believes Red Bull are the Formula 1 team to beat in 2022, he added they must get on top of their reliability woes if they are to taste success come the end of the season.
The Milton Keynes outfit have won seven of nine races in 2022, including the last six, which has helped them pull out a 76 point lead over Ferrari in the Constructors’ Standings. Max Verstappen has accounted for six wins.
However, that success has also come at a cost, with Sergio Perez‘s recent retirement in Montreal bringing the team’s total number of DNF’s this season to four. Given how strong the RB18 has looked in 2022, Hakkinen believes reliability is the team’s only concern.
“The only problem for Red Bull appears to be reliability,” Hakkinen wrote in his column for Unibet. “Once again we saw an issue in the race for Checo Perez.
“That must have made the team nervous on a day when Max really needed to take advantage of title rival Charles Leclerc starting from the back of the grid, so the great result will have been a relief for them.
“Reliability seems to be the only thing Max, Checo and the team need to worry about.”
Ferrari are quick but fragile
As for Ferrari, Hakkinen believes not all is lost for the Scuderia.
The team seemed to have the fastest car on raceday in Azerbaijan before suffering a double DNF, while Carlos Sainz looked faster than Verstappen following a late Safety Car in Montreal despite failing to find a way past.
Hakkinen expects Ferrari to continue challenging Red Bull, though the two-time World Champions admits they’ll need more than just wins to close the gap in both championships.
“Ferrari has a quick car but it’s fragile,” Hakkinen wrote. “Team boss Mattia Binotto is right to say that it’s better to have a fast car with some reliability issues than a slow car which finishes.
“If the team can get on top of their reliability problems, Charles and Carlos can definitely challenge Red Bull again, although that 49-point gap between Max and Charles is not going to be easy to close down.
“Not only do Ferrari need to win some races, they also need Max to hit trouble.”