Adrian Newey: Max Verstappen was foolish to brake test Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey has acknowledged that Max Verstappen crashing into Lewis Hamilton in 2021 was a ‘brake test’. During Formula 1‘s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in 2021, Verstappen intentionally brake-tested Hamilton, something that Red Bull had categorically denied back then, as the pair fought for the world championship. “Probably what he did in Brazil last year was a bit naughty (taking Hamilton off the track by going straight to avoid being overtaken),” Newey told The Race.

“Saudi was silly but I think he got frustrated with Lewis not overtaking him but he still shouldn’t have brake-tested him. But Silverstone to me was a clear professional foul [by Hamilton] and people seem to have a short memory.

“They brand an individual and it takes time for that to go. He [Verstappen] is very easy to work with, very open. You ask him to do things and he’ll always try.”

Adrian Newey also pointed out what makes Verstappen such a good F1 driver.

“What’s great about Max is you always know what the car’s capable of because he always gets in it and wrings its neck,” Newey said.

“His feedback is good, he’s very aware of what the tyres are doing and how to manage them. I think his reputation for being wild is unfair.”

Adrian Newey expressed his thoughts on the new regulations and the ground effect in 2022, which, according to him, give a lot more freedom to the engineers to express their talent.

“I do enjoy reg changes but when I first saw these regs I was quite depressed by them,” he stated.

“At first sight, they appear to be very prescriptive. But as you dig into it more then – particularly in the area of the sidepod and floor – there’s actually a reasonable degree of freedom. More than you first think.

“The chassis is near enough designed for you by the regulations, the front wing quite prescriptive. Front and rear suspension, although there is some prescription on the angles, in terms of layout there’s still some freedom.

“As we got into it and realised that, then I’m not surprised there’s been a reasonable diversity of shapes. I certainly didn’t see the Mercedes sidepod solution coming. The other cars, the broad differences in sidepod shape have not completely surprised me.”

Red Bull ‘s RB18 is one of the cars on the 2022 grid that suffers least from the famous ‘porpoisong’ and Newey was one of the few people in the paddock who had been present in the last era of ground effect cars (1980s).

“We knew it was a potential problem. The LMP (Le Mans) cars had it for a very long time. It’s a very well-known problem,” he conceded.

“If you have an aero map which as you get closer to the ground generates more downforce eventually the flow structure breaks down and loses downforce, then it’s going to porpoise. With these regs you could see that was a possibility but whether they would and how you model that, was the difficulty.

“It was a bit of using experience as to what the causes of porpoising might be and trying to be mindful of that but at the same time we didn’t find a way of modelling it properly. In principle, you could do it in the windtunnel.”

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