Red Bull’s rivals may not be able to catch up with Max Verstappen and his dominant Formula 1 team until the next rule change in 2026, so say Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Monegasque was overall runner-up to the Dutch driver last year but since then Verstappen has won 10 of 12 races and is heading for a record-equalling ninth in a row at his home grand prix on Sunday.
Red Bull are on an unbeaten run of 13 races dating back to last season’s Abu Dhabi finale and have triumphed in 21 of the last 22.
“They have a really big margin and it’s going to be very difficult to catch them before the change of regulations (in 2026),” Leclerc told reporters at Zandvoort.
Mercedes’ star Hamilton feared Verstappen might be unbeatable in the remaining 10 races of 2023: “There is a high chance that he will win every race. They might win everything.
“Hopefully later on in the year, we’ll get closer, maybe. The fact is they are far ahead and most likely have started developing next year’s car already… so it’s very, very possible that Charles could be right,” reckoned Hamilton.
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell said Mercedes, second in the constructors’ championship, hoped to be in a position to cash in if Red Bull did slip up, and took hope from past experience.
Russell said: “I think going into this second half of the season we can be there to hopefully pick up any pieces that fall our way. Last year we had the mentality that Singapore would probably be our only opportunity in the second half to win a race and when we didn’t win in Singapore there was a bit of disappointment.