ADVERTISEMENT
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: 6th placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks to the media in the Paddock after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Is the Red Bull and Verstappen dominance of Formula 1 ending?

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: 6th placed qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing talks to the media in the Paddock after qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Red Bull’s dominance of Formula 1 could be ending if the recent Miami Grand Prix and Saturday’s Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix are anything to go by, as Max Verstappen struggled his way to P6 on the timesheets while Sergio Perez fared worse and will line up P18 on the grid.

If Verstappen struggles, poor Perez is totally lost as the Q1 exit proves. This Adrian Newey & Co. concocted RB20, has quirks that are viciously exposed at circuits like Monaco, where efficient high downforce is required. This Red Bull does not like the finicky, point-and-squirt tracks with no high-speed sections.

The showing by the F1 World Champions all weekend this far in Monte-Carlo suggests all is not well in ‘Camelot’ and F1 winner turned pundit Johnny Herbert picked up on it too: “It’s a head-scratching worry for Max.

ADVERTISEMENT

“They’ve been harder to get those wins and now it’s become hard to get into the top six. It’s going to be a big worry. He’ll be looking at a podium but realistically, I don’t think he’ll be confident about winning here on this track in that position. The weather is going to be fine,” Herbert told the BestPokerSites.ltd media team.

“Red Bull have usually had a smart strategy but it will have to be a miracle for them to get a win now. We heard him from the radio where he wasn’t happy, particularly with how the car was in the corners and that’s Max, he’s a perfectionist.

“I know it’s Monaco and it has its quirks, results don’t always come your way but he’s had an interesting last three races. I’m not sure if it’s been a drop in performance or if it’s the other teams that have sprung into life at the same time,” Herbert explained.

Herbert: Tsunoda should be at the top of the Red Bull list

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing, Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB, Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB and Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing pose for a photo in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Adding insult to injury on the other side of the RBR garage is the fact that for two races in a row Sergio Perez has been outqualified by the two VCARBs (aka Red Bull F1 Junior Team) and the Q1 exit will hurt the Mexican veteran on all fronts.

Herbert continued: “Perez’s performance hasn’t been good enough. The guys that are going for race wins and championships, it’s about being consistent. Max has had a bad day but he’s sixth. Sergio has had a bad day and he’s 18th, he’s twelve places back. That’s a poor showing.

“It’s not the performances you’d expect from a second driver for the best team over the last few years. It’s a massive disappointment for Sergio and for Red Bull,” reckoned the 59-year-old Englishman.

Herbert has a solution for Red Bull’s driver situation: “I feel sorry for Tsunoda, his performances have been impressive. If there’s a slot there next to Max at Red Bull next season, Tsunoda has to be considered.

“He’s a bit of a firecracker, he can be fiery on the radio but we also hear that from Max. If Red Bull need to choose someone, Tsunoda should be at the top of the list,” insisted Herbert.

Of RBR’s ‘prodigal son’ Daniel Ricciardo, Johnny added: “Daniel has been able to perform on the odd occasion but the odd occasion isn’t enough. If Daniel was beating Tsunoda, everyone would be going ‘what a great job Daniel has done’ but Tsunoda has been brilliant and he’s been consistent but I don’t hear people praise him.

Herbert: Daniel Ricciardo is underperforming

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 19: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares in the garage ahead of practice of the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 19, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

“Dan has had race wins but it’s disappeared for the last five years or so,” recalled Herbert. “But he’s not been able to spark back into life. We’re still waiting for Daniel to kick on, he thought that would be the case in Miami but we’re still waiting.

“There’s a point where sometimes, you’ve got to say ‘it’s not there anymore’. Ricciardo is being outperformed and if you’re being outperformed, you’re in a bad spot,” concluded Herbert, a three-time Grand Prix winner is an F1 career that included 161 GP starts in a career that began at the 1989 Brazilian GP until his final F1 race at the 2000 Malaysian GP.

While it is early days to sound the alarm bells, the warnings are there for the Champs. Compared to last year Red Bull are far more vulnerable as the season progresses, no matter how you look at it. Nevertheless, Verstappen is comfortably ahead in the 2024 F1 title race ahead of Round 8 in Monaco today.

The Dutchman has 161 points thus far, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is P2, albeit 48 points behind. Red Bull top the Constructors’ standings with a 56 points advantage over Ferrari. Last year Verstappen won the race from pole position.

Big Question: Is the Red Bull and Verstappen dominance of Formula 1 ending?