Red Bull have given the world its first glimpse of the RB18, in which Max Verstappen will defend the Formula 1 Drivers’ title.
Verstappen’s car for the 2022 season is emblazoned with the number ‘1’ after he became the first non-Mercedes racer to be crowned World Champion since Sebastian Vettel, also for Red Bull in 2013.
The RB18 is an all-new challenger for the heavily revised regulations brought into Formula 1 this year, featuring ground-effect aerodynamics designed to make following other cars much easier – and the racing more exciting.
It will also have an engine that has still been built by Honda, who withdrew from the sport at the end of last season – the Japanese manufacturer not having severed ties completely and remaining available to offer guidance to the new Red Bull Powertrains operation that has been set up in Milton Keynes.
Following on from the RB16B which won 11 of the 22 races in 2021 driven by Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Red Bull decided to skip the number 17 in their evolution of cars because last season’s model was merely an upgraded continuation of the 2020 model, with the rules remaining static between those campaigns due to the pandemic.
Ready to send it 🔥 Bringing in a whole new era of #F1 with our fans 🤘 pic.twitter.com/jtpBptQmCJ — Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) February 9, 2022
Team principal Christian Horner had explained the rationale before last year’s launch of the RB16B, saying: “The next model for 2022 will be RB18. That is why there will never be an RB17.”
The launch took the form of a presented online show, featuring a welcome message from Verstappen at the beginning followed by a review of the remarkable 2021 season in which the Dutchman came out on top at the end of a titanic battle with Lewis Hamilton.
And as the show began, news was confirmed that the team’s official title is now Oracle Red Bull Racing, solidifying the partnership with technology experts Oracle Cloud Infrastructure in what has been reported to be a $500m deal over five years.
“I’m feeling recharged and ready to get driving again,” said Verstappen. “I feel good and it’s important you prepare yourself in the best way possible physically, particularly when things are changing with the shake-up in regulations.”
Verstappen and Perez, who won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in his first season with Red Bull, will have the first opportunity to put the RB18 through its paces in comparison to their rivals when what is a ‘pre-season track session’ – not officially a test – takes place in Barcelona from February 23-25.
The official test takes place in Bahrain the week before the opening grand prix of the year, also at the Sakhir circuit, on March 20.