Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Singapore, 2023

Red Bull’s missed clean sweep of wins leaves “something to strive for” – Horner

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In the round-up: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner isn’t regretting the one grand prix the team failed to win this year.

In brief

Singapore defeat keeps Red Bull “humble”

Red Bull’s 21st victory of the season on Sunday meant they ended the 2023 championship having only failed to win a single grand prix: The Singapore round in September. Horner said that sole defeat “leaves you humble” in a year when the team and world champion Max Verstappen had achieved unprecedented success.

“There’s still something to strive for,” Horner told media after Sunday’s finale. “It is a useful lesson that things can change quickly. Singapore was a stand-out weekend.

“We never dreamt – you guys have been asking me this since about race three do you think you can win all the races this year. But to win 21 out of 22 races is insanity. For Max to have led over a thousand laps, for him to have won 19 races, to have broken McLaren’s record from ’88, to have broken Seb [Vettel’s] – our own record from 2013 – the win ratios, all the percentages that he’s hit, this car will go down in history, certainly for I think a considerable period of time the most successful car in Formula 1 history.”

Tost fumes over strategy in final race

Outgoing AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost criticised his team’s strategists for their handling of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Yuki Tsunoda started sixth, led the race, but finished eighth.

“I’m pissed off because we were too stupid to choose a proper strategy,” Tost told Sky Germany.

“I had discussions on the pit wall and said that we should get Yuki in. I was told that it would work out. This is pure arithmetics – I realised that it probably wouldn’t work out.

“Seventh place was realistic for Yuki. Sixth place wasn’t, because Perez was behind us and simply faster. The fact that Alonso would overtake us is a simple no-go. We messed it up because the technicians who sit in front of the computers for hours couldn’t figure out the strategy that would ultimately work.”

Final day of official F1 action

All 10 F1 teams are due to take part in a post-season test at the Yas Marina today. Each will run one car for Pirelli tyre testing and a second for a rookie driver.

Bortoleto, Crawford and Maini settle their F2 futures

Three current Formula 1 juniors announced on Monday who they will be racing for in Formula 2 next year.

McLaren’s FIA Formula 3 champion Gabriel Bortoleto will drive for Virtuosi Racing in his rookie F2 season. His team mate will be Kush Maini, who recently has become an Alpine junior, and is a protege of Mika Hakkinen as well as a and reserve driver for Mahindra in Formula E. Maini came 11th in F2 this year.

Jak Crawford has signed with DAMS for his second F2 season, having taken a win and a pole with Hitech GP en route to 13th in the 2023 standings. Although he is currently a Red Bull junior, he will depart its ranks next year. All three drivers will be in action in F2 testing at Yas Marina circuit later this week.

Aron confirms Mercedes exit

Paul Aron, who finished third in the FIA Formula 3 series this year, has confirmed he is no longer part of Mercedes’ young driver programme. “It was a a pleasure to work with such a group of people and I am thankful for their contribution throughout these four-plus years,” he wrote in a social media post.

Aron made his Formula 2 debut in the season finale at Yas Marina last week. He contested the Macau Grand Prix the week before, running as high as second in the final before suffering a major crash.

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Comment of the day

The Red Bull RB19 was used by Verstappen to break records this season, and he often had a comfortable pace advantage over his opposition. But how much of an improvement was Red Bull’s 2023 car on its immediate predecessor?

Interestingly enough, the “mighty” RB19 was only 3 tenths quicker than the RB18 at Abu Dhabi over a qualifying lap. I doubt if the race pace is significantly better than the RB18 either — last I checked they were a marginal improvement.

I see it two ways:
– lap time isn’t easy this cycle with regulations being so prescriptive and that Red Bull is close to the limit of the regulations.
– knowing what to do with these regulations is probably not easy as the other nine teams have shown.

McLaren is the most consistent of them lot and I hope they find these “three tenths at Abu Dhabi” and more.

Mercedes might be an interesting team to look out for — they are throwing the current car completely into the bin. Maybe Ferrari will do something about this deficit as well.

Of course they all need to find gains in race trim and not just pure pace — as has already been seen this season, pure pace advantage of Red Bull is far from dominant in the dry conditions.
Robert Henning

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On this day in motorsport

  • 60 years ago today the 1951 Indianapolis 500 winner Lee Wallard died. He only started one other world championship race, giving him a record 50% win rate.

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...

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15 comments on “Red Bull’s missed clean sweep of wins leaves “something to strive for” – Horner”

  1. Re: COTD: Indeed, the pace advantage of RB19 isn’t that great (compare with, say, Mercedes in 2014, when they could do something like 2 seconds per lap on the field in Bahrain when they started racing). I think the strengths are more to do with tyre management and consistency: how many times did we see this year Max just slowly eking out the gap at the front? It seemed that they always had a small pace advantage, and they could turn it up ever so slightly before the pit stops (when other teams had already used their tyres). It is this consistency over the race distance that (I think) demoralises the opposition.

    Here’s hoping for a more competitive 2024, but I fear we may have to wait until the new rules in 2026…

    1. It’s important to keep in mind that both Ferrari and Mercedes had a very compromised season. In Ferrari’s case, they carried the legacy of the most unsuccessful team principal Ferrari has had in decades into this season, whereas Mercedes outsmarted itself by misinterpreting their form in late 2022 as proof that they were on the right path with their concept.

      This in turn allowed Aston Martin and McLaren to close right up to them.

      I’d be surprised if Mercedes and Ferrari don’t do significantly better in 2024.

      1. I don’t usually like “what if” but we could have arguably a whole different season if Mercedes or McLaren started where Aston did. Of course, they wouldn’t make the same big gains as they did, but wouldn’t have to. While I’ve praised Mercedes development in the past, I’m not so confident this time as the end of season indicates they still don’t fully understand the car behaviour under this set of regulations.

        I’m still puzzled by these copies like Aston. Hard to believe it’s a like for like copy and that some understanding is necessary to make it work. But the development path shows that apparently the car wasn’t understood well. Makes me curious to understand how it works so well initially and why the development is so troublesome. It’s not the first time we see that trend.

    2. I think it is important to highlight that the ultimate QUALIFYING pace is not that amazing compared to the field (they are incredibly close for many races overall), but in race pace? Especially when driven to it’s potential it’s shown to be a leap ahead of the field in general.

    3. @kaiie yeah, but that 2 second advantage didn’t allow them to overtake the way that Red Bull did where Brundle called it a car from a different category. Horner is upset because he probably knows the real pace of the car. Verstappen’s greatest feat this year may have been driving slower than the car could go. In fact, for all we know and what we saw at the beginning he may be the only Champion in the history of the sport that was forced to not drive the car at its full pace for the majority of the season.

      We saw him joke that he could take a pitstop and make up the difference in 10 laps … over the 2nd Red Bull car. All races end by turn 1 over the qualifying car unless Max is kind enough to wait for the other car to sort of catch up and then say goodbye.

      I believe Red Bull discussed the possibility of winning all the races and maybe decided to give one away to avoid rule changes.

      1. It’s ofc suspicious because seeing how competitive they were at monaco it’s strange they were nowhere in quali in singapore, however I believe if rule changes depended on how many races a team wins 21 out of 22 race wins would already be plenty to trigger one, anything above 15 would, at least for a couple seasons, and remember 2022 was already pretty dominant in the 2nd half.

        1. @esploratore1 well, I think they covered that base up with the struggles that Perez had. If anything, Red Bull’s leadership is very clever.

      2. In fact, for all we know and what we saw at the beginning he may be the only Champion in the history of the sport that was forced to not drive the car at its full pace for the majority of the season.

        Except for Hamilton (which we do know).
        And probably many others, given the mechanical fragility teams faced decades ago.

  2. That restaurant seems to be the same as last year, although I notice that some drivers were absent this year.

  3. Heh, any other demob-happy quotes from Franz, now that he is toast?

    Do F1 drivers sit round a table opposite each other, or in grid formation?

    1. You got to respect the man – his last race and he’s still fuming about opportunities lost due to not ideal strategy Bullfrog!

      1. Yes, true, I like this, however he said it himself: 6th was not realistic, 7th was and that wouldn’t cut it for the championship position, so the suboptimal strategy only cost them some points, they would’ve needed ricciardo fighting for points as well to beat williams.

        1. … And they left Ricciardo out 3 laps too long so that when he pitted Stroll could then pit and come out ahead, instead of about 4 seconds behind and needing to use up his Mediums.

          Bloody strategists.

  4. I’d honest have liked to see Red Bull win every race this year just because it would have been something special to see which has never happened in my time as a fan & something that hasn’t been seen since the very start of the world championship.

    Of course I get that such domination isn’t very popular & perhaps not especially positive when F1 is trying to sell itself to new fans who want to see more competition.

    But seeing for me seeing everything come together so perfectly with a team producing such a magnificent car that also featured such a great engine with arguably the best driver of this generation driving it as brilliant as Max has with so few mistakes all year has been incredible to watch.

    The others simply need to do a better job to catch up.

  5. This is the Red Bull era – but to catch up other teams must stop copying them (Daily Telegraph

    Yes, Tom, and when they do and it fails (a la Mercedes’ side-pods) the team gets a side of insult to their injury. I see McLaren are the biggest threat to Red Bull in 2024 because Mercedes are more or less starting from scratch, which introduces risk, but McLaren are evolving their design and each bit they bring looks to be a positive part of a larger package. And McLaren are not far off from Red Bull in philosophy so in essence they are copying (as do all teams in F1) from Red Bull.

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