Russell ‘wondering if Red Bull are running full power’ after Miami GP dominance

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ George Russell questioned whether Red Bull showed the true potential of their car in their dominance Miami Grand Prix win.

Max Verstappen came from ninth on the grid to win the race by 5.384 seconds over his team mate Sergio Perez, who had started on pole. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso finished third, 26s behind Verstappen.

Russell was almost seven seconds further behind in fourth, having started sixth. His team mate Lewis Hamilton was another 18s back in sixth.

However Russell was pleased with his result following a difficult start to the weekend for Mercedes. “P4 in those circumstances we probably wasn’t expecting,” he told media including RaceFans afterwards. “Really quite a satisfying race.

He passed Carlos Sainz Jnr, who started third, to secure his fourth place in the race. “Good overtakes on the Alpines, good overtake on Carlos,” he said.

“The pace for us, relatively speaking, was strong. We couldn’t have done more today, so I’m proud of that, but of course we want more and we want races like this to be for the win.”

Russell “wasn’t very surprised” by Red Bull’s pace, as the team scored its fourth one-two finish from five races this season.

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“That’s where they are at the minute,” he reflected. “We said at the start of the season they’re so far ahead they’ve got it easy at the moment. I wonder if they’re even running full power or anything, they’re just so far ahead.”

Red Bull’s dominance is “a bit of a shame for the sport,” Russell believes. “But kudos to them for the good work that they’ve clearly done and shown what is possible when you get it right. So that’s what we’re going to be chasing, and see what we can achieve.”

The next track on the calendar is Imola, where Red Bull also won last year. Their Miami Grand Prix win was their 15th in the last 16 races, Russell’s Brazilian Grand Prix victory being Red Bull’s only defeat during that time.

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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63 comments on “Russell ‘wondering if Red Bull are running full power’ after Miami GP dominance”

  1. sethje (@seth-space)
    8th May 2023, 12:24

    Red Bull’s dominance is “a bit of a shame for the sport,” Russell believes

    Mercedes hypocrisy after dominating the sport for 6 consecutive years with the fastest engine by far

    1. And people complained every year then too

      1. Cutting Russell’s next sentence which addresses that it is no fault of the Red Bull team they did such a good job but instead something the others have to aspire to (the same thing they said before, when they themselves were dominant, and when Russell wasn’t actually a driver for that team yet) does perhaps show hypocrisy, but not where you are claiming it @seth-space

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          8th May 2023, 13:09

          @bosyber well, the circumstances under which Red Bull gained its advantage are not without controversy. They are without a doubt incredibly good at developing cars and they should since they have the benefit of developing 4 cars and trying out 2 sets of chassis and engine upgrades to determine which one works better.

          In terms of evolution, their odds of survival are double that of any other team.

          1. Are you referring to the cost cap? R-B has some rubbish bookkeepers, Mercedes provided an excellent one to the FIA, it seems. One with the private number of Toto on speed-dail. :)
            Last time I checked, A-T and R-B have their own designers, rather strictly separated. If not, I don’t understand why A-T is fighting to get into Q2. Same can be said about Ferrari and their customers.
            On Engine dev: Mercedes had 3 customer teams to help them with engine developement, Ferrari has 2 customers. I guess only Mercedes is beaten by one of their customers.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            8th May 2023, 15:17

            Well, there’s no way to know how Alpha Tauri and Red Bull operate and if they are completely independent but they have always been meant to be the 2nd team. It’s quite unlikely statistically speaking that Red Bull would have gotten it right over all the years they’ve been in F1 and Alpha Tauri wouldn’t.

            Red Bull seem to struggle less than any other team and Alpha Tauri more than they probably should – look at McLaren’s struggles and how difficult it is to get out of them.

          3. The FIA F1 rules around design and the intellectual property (IP) that goes along with it, are quite specific and strict.
            Red Bull can not directly influence the design or another teams car, even if they want to. Each team is required to do all of this themselves.
            There are some components that can be bought and shared between teams, but there are limits. Gear boxes, suspension components and some electronics. But each team is required to design their own car, mechanical, aero and layout.
            I believe that Hass gets around this with Dalara through the process of taking ownership the IP. No one else can use it and Hass owns it.
            In the case of Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, they aren’t even based in the same country. At least currently.
            There was a comment from F. Tost back in March (or so) that they could and wanted to use Red Bull for design and manufacturing suspension components. Something that is permitted. He said that they couldn’t take advantage of this because Red Bull would delay final design and manufacturing longer than Alpha T. could tolerate. Net advantage to Red Bull that permitted them a longer design process while still getting parts onto the car in time.
            In the end Alpha T. had to design and build the parts themselves.
            Yes it must be frustrating and disappointing that the Red Bull sister team is so far behind. H. Marko even commented that the net cost to run Alpha T. was higher than the main team. Now that is the sort of thing that would drive the accountants batty.

          4. Merc knowing about the v6 hybride engine years before the rest did is also at least questionable.

      2. At least there is no rule on closing the gap now, other than the cost cap.
        Remember the Engine Token system?
        But please, Mercedes, Ferrari, kick your developement in gear, will ya?

        1. Doesn’t really matter if you forbid development via a token system or make it unaffordable via a cost cap, the end result is conserving the lead of the existing front runners even if anyone else understood where and how they went wrong.

        2. This is Ferrari developing their car in the highest gear possible. Results might not show it… they never have for Ferrari.

          1. Ferrari did come back from the rubbish Barnard F310 in 1996. ;-)

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th May 2023, 12:59

      @seth-space but Mercedes’ dominance led to some of the best rivalries in F1 and are they really dominant if Ferrari and Red Bull are nipping at their heels?

      The Mercedes was fast but it wasn’t capable of overtaking 2 cars on a straight. This is something else. We’ve never seen overtakes before corners. There’s no way of even defending against a Red Bull – you can’t hold them up for a single lap. Alonso held up a much faster Mercedes 2 years ago forever as have so many other drivers.

      1. The Mercedes was fast but it wasn’t capable of overtaking 2 cars on a straight.

        You are misremembering things.

        1. couldntstopmyself
          8th May 2023, 15:19

          And the best part is that @freelittlebirds even ‘misremembered’ that the most recent double overtake for Mercedes was in 2022 when they were struggling ;)

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          8th May 2023, 15:27

          @proesterchen perhaps but it’s not just me – Red Bull’s pace has left a lot of people speechless including Brundle in one of the races where the Red Bull just overtook coming out of a corner as if it was a Porsche overtaking a sedan on a street. Same category cars don’t get overtaken like that – it still takes a bit of skill as opposed to “you’re just blocking the way! please move”

          But I do recall both Rosberg and Bottas having a hard time overtaking with Bottas some years struggling worse than Leclerc did yesterday. On the other hand, Perez was like PacMan last year taking out each one and saying “who’s next?”. Verstappen has had crazy overtakes over the past 2 years – I call them overtakes but it’s more like driving by a bystander.

          And, like Russell, I believe they have more and are just wary of the cost cap penalty coming back to bite them through a regulation change.

          1. Fred Fedurch
            9th May 2023, 0:12

            Same category cars don’t get overtaken like that – it still takes a bit of skill as opposed to “you’re just blocking the way! please move”

            Find some IMSA races from 1988 on YouTube when Audi showed up with their devastating 2.3L AWD Turbo 100s (which were eventually banned). I went to the street course race in Niagara Falls, NY. Rohrl and Heywood lapped the field then put on a show doing divebomb passes on each other for the rest of the race. The difference in speed on the gradual double curved Rainbow Blvd. was comical.

          2. Luckily there is data that presents clearly the advantage of the RB is not to the same degree/level the advantage the Mercedes had in the V6 hybrid era. This debate is media fed. What you see is Mercedes playing the media to get some kind of favourable regulatory change. In reality the car is quicker but not as much as we’ve seen in the past with Mercedes and the Max effect is also not taken into account. Judging the RB by Perez the gap is even smaller.

          3. Mayrton, while I agree the gap is not always at the same level as mercedes in their dominant years, we’re talking 30 seconds in a full race, that’s really significant, and if I recall, often vettel in the 2014-2016 years ended up 3rd behind the 2 merc drivers and was 30 sec behind.

    3. RB look like they can 1-2 every race, Mercedes never got close to that.

      Verstappen has won from 14th, 9th, 7th and 10th in the last 24 races.

      Hamilton, nothing like that.

      And yes it is mainly the car that allows for that to happen.

      Mercedes had a dominant car for some years but nothing on the level that we are seeing from RB now, maybe breaking the cost cap was a wise move.

      1. RB look like they can 1-2 every race, Mercedes never got close to that.

        As recently as 2019 Mercedes scored a 1-2 in the first five races of the season, which is better than Red Bull have managed here.

        1. While this is true, it was aided by circumstances, I can say for sure merc 2019 wasn’t as dominant as this red bull on performance, consider bahrain: ferrari had the fastest car in quali and race and was on course for at least a victory, cause hamilton had caught vettel, who then spun, leclerc was the fastest driver and had enough margin and had a mechanical problem, so a merc 1-2 there doesn’t represent the performance situation correctly, they should’ve been 2nd and 3rd, even 2nd and 4th if not for vettel’s mania of spinning.

      2. 2016 was a year which almost all were Mercedes 1-2 (except Spain) while i am sure of the Nr 1 not sure about the second spot.

      3. Mercedes had a dominant car for some years but nothing on the level that we are seeing from RB now

        That is simply not true but a repeat of the media narrative. The RB does not hold the advantage Mercedes had in the v6 hybrid era. Not with Max and not at all with Perez.

      4. RB look like they can 1-2 every race, Mercedes never got close to that.

        They did more than get close, they did even better in 2019 than Red Bull has done so far, as @red-andy noted.

        And they would have in 2014 had Hamilton not, ironically, started the V6 era with a DNF.

        Verstappen has won from 14th, 9th, 7th and 10th in the last 24 races.

        Hamilton, nothing like that.

        Hamilton also won from 10th (Brazil 2021) and 14th (Germany 2018).

        But you can’t win from 8th if you start from pole, so this particular stat (one frequently used in the past to disparage Vettel) needs a lot of context.

  2. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    8th May 2023, 12:41

    Yeah this very much feels like 2014, where Mercedes were often in cruise mode.

    Back then tokens kept their advantage, these days it’s the budget cap mixed with Red Bulls superior catering budget

    1. It would indeed make no sense for Red Bull to show all their performance. Both because it is a sporting liability (they have the same limited number of components as everyone else) and because doing so would steer the narrative away from ‘they’re doing a good job’ to ‘what are they even doing?’. Mercedes knows this, as they admitted to never really running their 2014 car at maximum performance. It’s just good team management.

      Back then tokens kept their advantage, these days it’s the budget cap mixed with Red Bulls superior catering budget

      Indeed, and the fact that Red Bull has four cars.

  3. Mercedes is one of the best at playing these mind games, this is one of their old games, it’s called-CRYING WOLFF. HA HA
    Russell never complained about this in years past, while driving for Williams.

    1. Yes, Sounds like some rhetoric that Toto is giving his drivers.

    2. Mercedes is one of the best at playing these mind games

      Horner has been known to do the same, as have the various principals of Ferrari and any others who have been at the top. Mercedes are no worse and no better than any other.

      Russell never complained about this in years past, while driving for Williams.

      That’s because it would have had no benefit to him or his team then. Williams were consistently near the back. In fact, quite the opposite: Complaining about a front-running team could well have hurt them, as needing a change in car design could easily have cost them a large part of their tiny budget.

      It’s the same reason cars at the back, even when they are in a position to do so, rarely put up much of a fight with the front runners: It isn’t their race.

      1. Horner has been known to do the same, as have the various principals of Ferrari and any others who have been at the top. Mercedes are no worse and no better than any other.

        @drmouse For sure, politics is always a part of it and you can’t be successful in F1 by just making fast cars. Ask Binotto how well that went last year. Better or worse isn’t necessarily a value judgement; it’s more a case of being effective or not.

        Wolff is generally better at playing this game because he masters the art of spinning tales of ‘concerns’ and insinuations. The FIA loves righting wrongs, and they dislike being bamboozled. Wolff pushes their buttons in a very clever way. Horner is a bit too much of a Red Bull man for that; he’s too blunt and his tales lack finesse. He’s too blatantly in his attempts to manipulate.

        Wolff did make two big errors; he failed to appreciate the effect of the 2021 floor regulations on his team’s cars, and he again misinterpreted the 2022 floor regulations. Though in the second case his lobby to get the FIA to intervene had the desired effect, this mostly harmed Ferrari rather than, as was no doubt intended, the faster Red Bull.

        1. Fully agree with this, they are both characters but Toto is just way smarter in playing the game, especially in playing ‘the safety card’. That’s why I tend to be just a bit more annoyed by Mercedes than by RB. On top of that Mercedes was the party coming out of 7 years of dominance (in which they consistently downplayed their performance) and then threw everything but the kitchen sink at their competitor at the first hint of some competition. That to me does really not go down well and kind of gives away you are a PR machine for Mercedes and not a passionate racing team. It will take a long time for me personally to like them again or to ever take them seriously again.

  4. Electroball76
    8th May 2023, 12:59

    Soon they’ll let A.I. design the cars. That’ll save on costs and there will be no ‘design advantage’ to complain about.

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th May 2023, 13:06

    So all the podiums will be Verstappen, Perez, and Alonso this year with the occasional Ferrari appearance and maybe a Mercedes cameo appearance.

    The way the Red Bulll overtook 2 cars, it’s something else. Like Russell, I’d be questioning if they are just messing with everyone because they clearly can run circles around on straights.

    I’m going to overtake as we come out of the corner, drop behind you in the middle of the straight because I can, and then overtake you again by the end of the straight for a double overtake. Red Bull can probably pull that off even on the Aston Martins.

    1. The way the Red Bulll overtook 2 cars

      TBH, I don’t think that was about the car. We’ve seen this before. It was VER taking advantage of two battling cars to sweep past them while they were distracted by each other. Sure, the car’s straight line speed advantage will have helped, but IMHO that wasn’t the deciding factor in that move.

      1. @drmouse
        I agree. By having a battle they were both disadvantaged. Probably using their battery too. It was a nice move to watch, sure, but I would not use it as an example to claim the RBR was quick enough to dispatch 2 cars one 1 straight

    2. Absolutely it’s not the car for this, I mean, you need a top car for the season to do that, but we knew that already, you don’t need to have a dominant car to do that, I remember hamilton doing this too, the italian commentators said “ne passa 3 in un colpo solo!”, so he actually overtoook 3 cars in the same straight, I don’t remember the exact race, but it was one of the times where drivers massed penalties for new components, I have a feeling it was even in a non-dominant season, like 2018, if it’s not that, it’s more recent.

  6. Bad, bad choice of words! if anything the others underperforming should be a shame for the sport.

    It’d be like saying Messi (or whoever, I’m Argentinean, don’t blame me! :P) is a shame to the sport because he’s so good

    1. It’s just politics. The pace difference is not even as big as back in the Hybrid V6 era when Mercedes had the upper hand. Just this season Perez is also finally at Bottas level, picking up if & when Max drops it. Last year he didn’t even finish 2nd in the WDC. It is hardly comparable to 7 years of domination. That’s just a Mercedes narrative channeled through British media. Brundle and the like take their part too. It is alarming to see how facts are twisted for someones political agenda. But it’s part of the sport unfortunately.

      1. Last year he didn’t even finish 2nd in the WDC

        Though he would have if Max had helped him out, which would have cost him nothing…

        1. Maybe, we never got an explanation on his ‘I have reasons’ :-). But still it wasn’t a given that Perez takes 2nd place every race behind the team leader, like Bottas did for many many years.

  7. There’s a simple difference to the Mercedes era of dominance which is that Red Bull’s rivals can’t just spend/innovate their way back into contention. Even if Ferrari and Red Bull took some years to properly compete with Mercedes, there was always a chance they could do so. Now we know there’ll be no dramatic catch up.
    Is Russell right that they have even more pace available if necessary? It would be strange if they didn’t. Why would they max out their car’s pace now? Unnecessary component stress and more pressure on FIA to do something to rein the team in. Plus hiding pace for if and when the other teams edge closer.

    1. Still, there is no way of knowing is there? Seems that everybody is certain that RB is holding back. I think they won’t go out at 60%, but start the race as fast as they can, and when the race allows it have their drivers preserve engine and tires.

    2. for if and when the other teams edge closer.

      Note how Horner is already positioning a potential late season convergence as the result of the “penalty” Red Bull incurred by che… miscalculating. Horner is trying to play the game Toto Wolff has for so long, but he’s just not quite as clever.

      In reality, we’ve always seen that the leading or dominant team loses some of its edge towards the end of the season. Not because they were all penalized, but simply because it can allocate time and money to the next season much earlier than the other teams. Their first place is then already all but guaranteed, while the others can still benefit from climbing one or two places in the constructor’s championship, making further investments in that season’s car worthwhile.

      1. There’s always the example of 2013 when Seb and RBR didn’t relent and turned the rest of Formula 1 into a sorry puddle of goo not participating beyond simply being there.

        1. Indeed, sometimes the gap is just too big to really matter in terms of race results.

          1. At the moment it feels likely there is literally no contest at all. On most circuits the Red Bulls can just cruise past an Aston or a Ferrari like it’s not there. The other teams hardly bother fighting it.

            I know it’s all happened before but with the major change in rules last year (to make racing more competitive), it seems especially disappointing. To me anyway.

          2. @phil-f1-21 Absolutely, and it’s refreshing to see quite a few commentators are moving past the ‘domination is boring, boo!’ phase and are starting to aim their questions at the other teams.

            Between the eight non-Red Bull teams they’re easily spending over a billion dollars on just these 16 cars, and at this stage nobody can credibly claim to be expecting any of them to be in the fight for a win, on any track. If this was a school project, eight teams would be getting an F.

            That said, some criticism also has to go to the FIA for introducing a formula squarely aimed at generating downforce with the floors of the car and then six months in going ‘guys we’re just going to raise the ride height so good luck with that!’.

          3. Raising the floor is probaly the secret that Red Bull is so fast it’s what Adrian loves ..

            When i heard that the floors had to be raised last year i put my money on Max for this year and it seems i wasn’t wrong.
            The FIA should have put sensors in and if porpoising was over a marge force the car in the pit for fixing it (even during the race) and i think we had a season more like last year where following cars was more easier.

    3. There’s a simple difference to the Mercedes era of dominance which is that Red Bull’s rivals can’t just spend/innovate their way back into contention.

      Well that’s not completely true is it? When Merc showed up with a ultra-dominant engine grid penalties for changing PU parts where already in place. And at the time F1 was very much an engine first formula, much more than today.

      1. And at the time F1 was very much an engine first formula, much more than today.

        Actually it was much more balanced, IMHO, than it is today.

        For many years before the hybrid era F1 was completely aero-dominated. Engine development was very restricted and engines had pretty much converged, so it didn’t really matter which engine you were running (except for reliability). The same is pretty much true now: the engines barely matter anymore, because performance has converged and now development is allowed. They may as well be running spec engines.

        At the start of the hybrid era, while the competition was engine-dominant, teams also needed to get the aero right. Ignoring the very beginning, where the factory teams had access to more performant engine modes etc, you could see that aero still made a difference by the relative performance of teams with the same engine.

        The best period, IMHO, was the few years running up to the aero regs change. The engines were converging but still in development, so still played a decent role in the technical competition, while aero was coming back towards the fore. A team with a weaker engine could make up for it with a good aero package, but a good step forward with the engine would also make a difference. It was pretty well balanced between aero and engine, and without the engine freeze it would be even better IMHO. It’s a massive shame we have an engine freeze to to the balance so massively back to “aero is the only thing which matters”.

      2. and there were development tokens which limited the amount of catching up as well

    4. did you forget about the token system? nobody could catch up with the engine because of that.

    5. @david-br
      I’m sorry but that is not true. Back in 2014 the other teams could not out-develop Mercedes because of the token system. The current budget cap does not work like the token system at all, locking in development advantages. The proof is Aston Martin. From a struggler to consistent runner up from one season to the next. If your statement would be true that could not have happened. It did happen though and although Aston Martin have improved (personnel, facilities) I doubt they’re the second best right now. They did a good job within the limits of the budget cap* and there is absolutely no reason why Mercedes couldn’t do the same.

      So I do agree there is a big difference in the Mercedes dominance and current RBR situation (where RBR is still not as dominant as Mercedes was). Just for the exact opposite reasons. Mercedes need to pull their thumb out and give us a fight, Aston Martin are making all the other teams look bad

      1. *) what they did last year will be under review so theoretically they could have overspent to get where they are now

      2. Remember, though, that even with the token system, aero development was completely unrestricted. Maybe they couldn’t develop the engines much, bit they could do anything they wanted aerodynamically (within the regulations).

        Now, no development is allowed on the engines at all, and aero is severely limited by the budget cap.

        Note I agree the token system was bad and locked in engine advantages/disadvantages, and I do support the budget cap. However, even if Mercedes and Ferrari had abandoned their concepts and copied RBR as Aston Martin did, they’d still be behind, playing catch up and limited in what process they could make by the budget cap.

  8. Mercedes drivers they do think about the show

  9. To me the most disappointing thing is that even though it was obvious that RBR had delivered a far better design in 2022, none of the other teams (with the exception of perhaps AM) seem to have made sufficient development on their 2023 to be even remotely competitive in 2023.
    One team in particular delivering their “our design will be really fast – our concept is great even though its way different to the others” is really a complete joke.
    Pretty sad state of affairs all round if no one can compete with Adrian Newey

    1. + 1

    2. This, its actually others doing a pretty bad job rather than RB doing some miracle. It was evident the direction the teams should have taken not to forget the TD also kinda screwed up Ferrari’s position as a competitor thanks to this exact Mercedes lobbying for changes.

  10. IndyCar is the cure for this boredom.

  11. If anyone is going to complain about this, it shouldn’t be Mercedes.

  12. I’m not sure the Merc is so far behind the RBR. I’d like to see what a lineup of real racers like Fred and Max can do in the Merc instead of the present chauffeurs.

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