Verstappen expects Red Bull developments to maintain “quite big” lead over rivals

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Red Bull are continuing to press ahead with their development programme despite enjoying a substantial performance advantage over their rivals, says Max Verstappen.

The team has made a dominant start to 2023, scoring one-two finishes in four of the first five races. However it is permitted less development time than any of its rivals, partly due to its victory in last year’s world championship and also because its testing allocation was cut as part of its penalty for exceeding the budget cap in 2021.

Verstappen won last Sunday’s race in Miami with a 26-second advantage over the team’s closest rival. Although other teams such as Mercedes are expected to bring significant upgrades over the coming races in an effort to catch Red Bull, the world champion believes his team will be able to uphold their lead.

“We have a decent advantage, especially in the race. Over one lap in some tracks, definitely some cars will be close or in front, like you could see in Baku. But that race pace advantage I think is quite big at the moment.”

He indicated Red Bull will be ready for their rivals’ development push. “It’s not like the others are bringing new bits and we’re just standing still,” he said. “So hopefully we can just keep it going like we’re doing now.”

Red Bull’s race pace advantage meant Verstappen could afford to be patient in traffic in the opening laps of the Miami Grand Prix.

“I was just really staying out of trouble at the beginning because the people around me tried to gain positions as quickly as possible on lap one. But knowing that you have a quick car, then once it all settles down you just try to pick them up one by one.

“That worked out quite well. I had even a three-wide on the straight, which was quite entertaining.”

Verstappen quickly rose from ninth on the grid to take second place, then chased down team mate Sergio Perez to win the race.

“We had good pace, I could look after my tyres,” said Verstappen. “Once I was in clean air, it was just about getting to that lap number we targeted. That’s why in the middle of that stint, I was not entirely sure if I was going to make it.

“But then I was getting close to the number and I said ‘okay, this is good’. So then I started pushing, I could extend the gap again, which really made my race today, because once we pitted then I had the fresher tyres to the end.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Verstappen expects Red Bull developments to maintain “quite big” lead over rivals”

  1. Probably, yes, although the wind tunnel-CFD handicap will affect their absolute development flexibility versus closest rivals & show even more directly at the next season’s beginning.

    1. @jerejj

      Honestly.. I don’t think its ideal for Red Bull to have this development handicap, but their competition has dropped the ball big time, so they could still extend the gap on their rivals.

      Mercedes are clueless about their car concept, and even though they might not admit it, it will continue to be a dud just due to its poor baseline concept. Ferrari continue to fail in every aspect of motor racing.. especially car development.

      Red Bull lucked in to a year of penalties. If either Mercedes or Ferrari had even maintained the gap from the end of last season in to this season, Red Bull would probably not end the year with any major advantage.

      1. @todfod Valid points, I fully agree with you.

      2. Yeah, @todfod, @jerejj, it does seem like Red Bull won’t have too many issues to maintain their advantage despite their handicap due to the cost cap infringements.

        AM is close on race pace, but despite having Alonso in a solid car and on form, are clearly aren’t going to be a challenge for the championship

        Ferrari tried to solve issues with last years car, but while it behaves differently, this does not seem to have solved their issues with tyre wear while the car is slower and they just keep adding the mistakes like we are used of them.

        Mercedes indeed seem completely lost for direction and just puttering around with sometimes a bit of effect, then being clueless why things don’t work the next time. They might eventually get a grip, but they will be lucky if they manage to do it in time to have a competitive car for next year.

        1. I’d add to that the fact that RBR got their design right from the very beginning.

          Enhancing the right design takes way less development, wind tunnel and CFD time than trying to fix major shortfalls.

          I’ve no doubt they have enough in hand to stay well ahead for the remainder of this season, and most likely next unless someone has a major “eureka” moment at one of the other teams. Or manages to fall upon the RBR design specs accidentally left near the photocopier :)

          1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
            9th May 2023, 12:47

            The article suggests ORBR have less development time but that is not quite correct, there is still 24 hours in a day they can spend on what they like outside of the wind tunnel and using the simulation computers.

            Laughing at the opposition probably takes a good portion of the day!

  2. Currently, the only hope there is for other than a RBR clean sweep this year is if someone other than a Red Bull driver can snatch pole at Monaco and then hold them off.

    Mind you the speed differential is so big at the moment even there it’s likely the RBR cars will just cruise by anyone in front.

    1. Leclerc can definitely get a pole at monaco, I mean, it’s not obvious but he got poles before this year; if he does and doesn’t make mistakes (I rarely see mistakes in the race any more at monaco, mostly in quali) he could win as long as he doesn’t get jumped in the pits.

    2. Otherwise, I’m curious if red bull can do anything to overtake in the spot after the tunnell, it’s usually really hard but they seem to be very strong in straight line speed.

  3. Rather refreshing to have a racer in the best car out there say it fair and square – we are fast, and others will struggle to catch up – instead of trying to downplay the advantage all the time and hyping up how others have more scope to catch up.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      9th May 2023, 12:48

      Somewhere but can’t remember now Verstappen has called the car a rocket ship.

    2. Indeed, quite refreshing after years of risible Mercedes underdogging

    3. I totally agree, VER seem like a despicable guy most of the time, but he says things plainly, unlike some other PR-friendly driver who had a party time button, but still minimized his car advantage.

    4. Yeah, that is refreshing indeed. Fair point.

  4. If Mercedes get their new upgrades working then they should close the gap by lot for next car in 24.

    1. Daryl (@furkmyster)
      9th May 2023, 15:12

      I have 0 confidence in Mercedes understanding anything right now. Odds are their car will be slower at Imola.

    2. Fred Fedurch
      9th May 2023, 17:07

      Even narrower side pods? That’s worth a shot.

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