Formula 1

Pre-Japan GP Season Highlights for Oracle Red Bull Racing & Scuderia AlphaTauri

Honda’s participation in Formula One as a power unit supplier ended in 2021. By requesst from the Red Bull Group, the new HRC has been supporting Red Bull Powertrains from the 2022 season.

Pre-Japan GP Season Highlights for Oracle Red Bull Racing & Scuderia AlphaTauri

Two teams (four F1 machines) are powered by Red Bull’s power units: two for Oracle Red Bull Racing, and two for Scuderia AlphaTauri. Oracle Red Bull Racing is represented by the defending world-champion Max Verstappen, who brought Honda F1 its first drivers’ title in 30 years, and Sergio Perez, ranked fourth in 2021. Scuderia AlphaTauri is represented by Pierre Gasly, and the only Japanese full-time F1 driver, Yuki Tsunoda. Both teams’ drivers are unchanged since last season.

The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20 was a tough race for both teams. Verstappen, Perez and Gasly, all fighting at the front of the race, retired in the closing stages due to mechanical issues. Tsunoda managed to gain points by finishing eighth, but it was a bad start to the season.

The results were better the following week in Round 2, Saudi Arabia, where Verstappen fended off a challenge from Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) to win the race. But in the next round in Australia, Verstappen’s car could not complete the race once again. This gave Leclerc such a comfortable lead in the drivers’ standings, that Verstappen commented “We’ll need about 45 races to catch up.”

The F1 cars built according to this season’s new regulations had a bad start to the season, but showed sudden improvements in Round 4, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 22 - 24. Verstappen tops the qualifying sprint, and goes on to win the race. Perez finishes second, giving the team its first 1-2 victory of the season. Verstappen wins at Miami and Spain, taking him to the top of the standings, ahead of Leclerc.

Round 7, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the three most prestigious races in the world. Passing on the Monaco street circuit is next to impossible, and although Perez and Verstappen started on the second-row, a superior pit strategy gave Perez the lead and his first grand prix win, which was also the first for a Mexican driver.

Oracle Red Bull Racing‘s momentum continued into Round 8, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Verstappen and Perez finished 1-2, the third time this season, at the high-speed Baku City Circuit. Verstappen won the next round in Canada, extending his championship lead. Ferrari won rounds 10 and 11, but Verstappen was back on top in Round 12, the French Grand Prix. At the Hungarian Grand Prix, Verstappen’s engine issues sent him back to 10th on the starting grid, but thanks to solid pre-race preparation, he went on to win what he called, “One of my best races.” The F1 season then went into its one-month summer-break.

On August 2, during the summer-break, HRC announced that it would continue to support Red Bull Powertrains until the 2025 season, instead of finishing its support in 2022. The partnership was made even stronger going into the second half of the season. In Round 14, Belgium, Verstappen and Perez clinched their fourth 1-2 finish of the season. Verstappen then won his home race in the Netherlands from pole, and Round 16, Italy making it five straight victories. Although he came in seventh at the Singapore Grand Prix, 11 wins for the season to date gives Verstappen a lead over Leclerc of over 100 points. There is a chance that Verstappen will win the drivers’ title as early as this weekend in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Oracle Red Bull Racing is having a good season so far, with Perez on Leclerc’s heels in the standings. Scuderia AlphaTauri, on the other hand, has not been on the podium all season, with Gasly currently 13th and Tsunoda 17th.

Tsunoda, a graduate of the Suzuka Circuit Racing School, knows the Suzuka Circuit better than any other driver, and aims for his best result this season at his first home grand prix, and to gain points for the first time since Round 6.

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