The superiority of Red Bull, in the first half dozen races of the 2023 Formula 1 campaign, has prompted speculation that Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez could win every Grand Prix this season but, team boss Christian Horner, is not so sure they can bag the next 18 wins.
Six wins out of six races if including the Sprint Race won by Perez along with two Grands Prix victories he bagged, with Verstappen on three wins, the last in Miami a comprehensive one amid his teammate’s tenacious advances up until then. As F1 flew to Europe everyone new who was the boss, Max did his talking on track
Barring Fate, Luck and Karma (FLK) winning them all is do-able. Stats show a gap of about a full second to their closest rivals Aston Martin, and even more so to their traditional title rivals Mercedes and Ferrari who (along with the rest of the grid barring Fernando Alonso in the Aston) may need reminding the F1 season has already started and that they need to get to the party ASAP.
Such is Red Bull dominance only FLK can really throw a spanner in the works
Otherwise, 23 wins out of 23 is not unrealistic, in an ideal world which, of course, is devoid of the abovementioned FLK. The latter trio are sure to play a role at some point in this long and varied season, perhaps alone, or as a triumvirate, and scupper RBRs ability to do a clean sweep in 2023, with a plethora of street circuits capable of breaking a Bull or two.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, despite his team’s rampant form, is playing down the scenario of winning them all: “I think that’s a massively tall order. You’ve got 23 events, many street circuits, there’s going to be the weather that turns up, at Silverstone probably, and there’s going to be reliability, strategy, an element of luck…
“To win 23 races is unimaginable. I’m sitting here after five races and we’ve won the first five, it’s by
far the best start we’ve ever had to a Grand Prix season so we just want to keep that rolling as long as we can then take one race at a time and not think about trying to win 23 races,” added Horner.
Heading to Round 6 this weekend, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, weather is almost sure to be a factor, if not in the race, qualifying and Friday practices could be wet as floods and heavy rains create havoc in the area.
Ferrari and Mercedes are nowhere with Aston Martin best of the rest with Alonso
Weather impacts everyone on the grid the same, what differs greatly from team to team is the update packages each one brings to the race weekend, in this instance, the first race in Europe, expect most to have a raft of upgrades, with Mercedes reportedly set to unveil a radical new design of their ineffective W14.
Ahead of Imola, Horner is wary of what could be unleashed by rival teams: “The competition will start to come through, I think it’s still early days and very easy to get carried away with what’s going on here and now. I’m sure, there are developments coming in the pipeline for other teams that will only converge the grid.”
Perhaps Horner takes comfort in being overly cautious as the first six races show that Red Bull rivals have made little progress relative to their lofty benchmark, in fact, it could be argued they have gone backwards.
After 17 months of flogging and trying to understand their dead-horse concept, Mercedes are embarrassingly behind Aston Martin, the only team to improve this year, benefitting from those around them who were simply caught with their pants down.
Ditto Ferrari who struggle to understand anything and everything during this transitional stage, in their history, under the new man at the helm Fred Vasseur. They’re fourth in the pecking order, when last year after five rounds The Reds led both titles, with Max and Red Bull chasing.
Horner: Max and Checo have a responsibility, they represent every team member of Red Bull
This leaves it to the two Red Bull blokes to fight for this year’s crown while the F1 teams scramble to catch up, while willing FLK to take action against the crushing dominance. Inevitably, the smart money is on Verstappen doing the business, claiming his third title in three years come the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with Perez chasing hard all year with occasional wins but not enough to take the tile.
As for the ‘civil war’ that might erupt, Horner can dig into his closet for the notes he made at the time (a decade ago) when Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber did not like each other much, creating challenging management issues for Red Bull at the time.
Horner told the Financial Times he would do: “What’s interesting this year is the dynamic between the two team-mates. Max has won three races, Sergio has won two races, and there’s 14 points difference between the two of them. It’s going to be interesting to see that inter-team dynamic.
“It is about being transparent and talking things through, going through the expectations and reminding them they drive for a team. Max and Checo represent every team member when they are driving their cars and all our partners. It is not just about them,” explained the Red Bull boss.
As for the headline: Can Red Bull win every Grand Prix this F1 season? Yes, very much so, barring FLK of course. Although it is very early days, this is how it already stands five rounds into the 2023 F1 World Championship: