The biggest lesson Red Bull learnt during Mercedes’ F1 dominance

The need for a competitive engine was the key lesson Red Bull took away from Mercedes’ prolonged spell of F1 dominance. 
(FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power, 2nd place Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ
(FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power, 2nd place Lewis Hamilton (GBR)…

Mercedes enjoyed a sustained period of superiority in F1 at the start of the V6 hybrid era, going on to win 15 of the 16 world titles on offer between 2014 and 2021, including an unprecedented eight consecutive constructors’ crowns. 

During that time, Red Bull struggled for success with an uncompetitive Renault power unit, before they gambled on a switch to Honda engines from 2019. 

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Under Honda power, Max Verstappen claimed Red Bull’s first world title since 2013 in his controversial 2021 triumph over Lewis Hamilton, before the Milton Keynes took both world championships in a dominant 2022 campaign. 

Asked what he learnt during the period of Mercedes’ dominance, Red Bull’s technical mastermind Adrian Newey said: "Have a decent engine. 

“We went into the hybrid era, and Renault got it wrong, so that was pretty depressing because you realised that in your foreseeable future if you do a spectacular job, you might snatch the odd win, but you're never going to win a championship. 

“That was a reset. I think one of the strengths of the team is that we put our heads down and got through that period so that when once we had a good power unit again with a partnership with Honda, we were able to respond.”

George Russell (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 and Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21,
George Russell (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1 and Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull…

Responding to the same question, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “The most important thing was keeping the team together, focusing on the things we could control. 

“We had great loyalty during that period. Honda shared the same passion, we took that risk, and we were then able to really start to get the foundations in place for a championship challenge.” 

And Horner praised Newey’s influence behind Red Bull’s F1 success, describing him as the “conductor of the technical orchestra”. 

“Adrian is the only bloke that can see air,” Horner added. “He lives in The Matrix, and he's been the conductor of the technical orchestra for all these years now, but he's still very hands-on and at his drawing board. 

“I had to argue with Ron Dennis to wrestle him out of McLaren. We've obviously had highs and lows during all these years, but it's always been fun. 

“We've always had great support from the group, from Dietrich [Mateschitz] and from Helmut [Marko], and that's enabled us to just focus on being the best race team that we can be."

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