Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2023

Red Bull domination ‘could take away some magic of F1’ – Coulthard

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In the round-up: Former F1 driver and Red Bull ambassador David Coulthard admits that the world champions’ domination of the sport could hurt it.

In brief

Red Bull domination ‘takes away some magic’- Coulthard

After Max Verstappen won 19 of last year’s 22 grands prix, Coulthard warned too much domination of Formula 1 by world champions Red Bull could have a negative impact on the sport.

The former Red Bull driver remains heavily involved with the team as show run driver, but he admits he has concerns about how their constant winning could have a negative effect on the sport.

“That expression ‘familiarity breeds contempt’? If you adapt that to sport, the same thing goes,” Coulthard told The Telegraph.

“Too much success kind of takes away the magic. With sport, we look to be inspired, to grow, to move forward, and if one team is doing all that, then it doesn’t give enough hope for everybody.”

Pirelli begin tyre testing in Barcelona

Pirelli’s tyre testing programme for the 2025 season began in Barcelona with Ferrari yesterday.

Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc shared driving duties over the day, in which the pair logged a total of 139 laps around the Circuit de Catalunya in last year’s Ferrari.

Pirelli will have an increased allocation of 40 days of tyre testing available to them in 2024. Leclerc and Sainz will run again today.

Ferrari name 2024 challenger

Ferrari have confirmed the name of the new car they will compete in the upcoming Formula 1 season with.

The new car will be officially called the ‘SF-24’, following the same naming system the team has used since 2015.

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Comment of the day

Can Lando Norris win a world championship with McLaren? There’s only one team who can fight toe-to-toe with Red Bull, argues Tifoso1989

As a Ferrari fan, I’d like to convey to Norris that winning the world championship requires more than just a competitive car. This assumption is based on the belief that McLaren will match Red Bull’s competitiveness over an entire season, which I highly doubt. Progressing in the right direction this year doesn’t guarantee the same leap forward the following year. Gaining lap time becomes exceedingly challenging once you’re near the top.

Besides, Red Bull haven’t shown all of their potential. It’s evident that once they secured the championship, their attention shifted towards the 2024 project. Additionally, the RB19 has demonstrated competitiveness on all sort of tracks, in all conditions, and with all tyre compounds. This versatility is not yet mirrored by McLaren, which still has a considerable distance to cover in that regard.

Furthermore, I doubt McLaren can equal RBR in terms of operations and strategy. Not to mention, Max Verstappen is even more effective than both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel when it comes to delivering results in a competitive car. It pains me to say this, but for the moment the only team that can match RBR over a season and mount a serious championship challenge is Mercedes.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Sridhar Gopalkrishnan!


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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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49 comments on “Red Bull domination ‘could take away some magic of F1’ – Coulthard”

  1. Couldn’t disagree more with Coulthard. Admittedly Covid helped give people the time to turn their attention to it, but F1 was already on the rise in popularity before that despite Hamilton and Mercedes’ domination. Let’s get that far again before decrying the magic of F1.

    There’s only 2 years until 2026 when there’s more than enough hope for every single team to put their thinking caps on and produce something special. If in 2026 one team comes out of the blocks with something that far outshines the competition like 2014 and that gap doesn’t close in the following years, then that’s a different story.

    If this tack of shared components and limited regulations doesn’t achieve the public stated goal of tightening the competition in the next era, then one has to question whether it’s worth continuing to on it and “turn into a spec series” or whether the regulations shouldn’t rather be opened up and allow for more opportunity to discover avenues for teams to find their own advantages.

    I miss the hope that Brawn provided in this regard when he was hired by Liberty… He seemed to have solid plans in that regard of working to find that solid sporting base through the regulations rather than kneejerk comments provided here by Coulthard.

    1. Nah David is right. Also Merc dominance was never as bad as red bulls current dominance so far. Not even 2020. if no team is able to mount a title challenge over the season then id rather see a repeat of 2023. Maybe that’ll force something.

      Also convergence is a myth. A widely accepted coping mechanism but a myth nonetheless.

  2. David is right. What makes Red Bull dominance worse for non Red Bull fans is they don’t even have those few races where Hamilton or Vettel were just off pace or made errors that others could capitalize on, unlike the previous era. In races where others are close they falter unlike Red Bull and Verstappen especially during the dominant Mercedes era.

    We are in an era where where it’s unlikely that without a car advantage no one is even fighting Verstappen and Red Bull till the end of the season, unless they have a significant point swing.

    F1 has always had dominant eras but this one is worse especially given fans enjoyed only one season of competition at the front after 7 years of non competitive. Moreover it is also a bit boring that in many races Verstappen had only a tenth or two advantage and still didn’t drop the ball, because he’s very consistent and also because the others are simply incompetent.

    1. F1 has always had dominant eras

      Well, F1’s had dominant seasons – but we couldn’t really describe a dominant streak as an ‘era’ until relatively recently. Certainly not by the current (hybrid era) definition, anyway.

      1. Indeed, even periods where teams won multiple titles rarely had two seasons in a row of outright domination, and three was practically unheard of before 2014.

      2. José Lopes da Silva
        30th January 2024, 11:57

        McLaren: 7 Constructor titles between 1984-91
        Williams: 5 Constructor titles between 1992-97
        Ferrari: 6 Constructor titles 1999-2004
        Red Bull: 4 Constructor titles 2010-13

        1. If that’s supposed to disprove something, I’m not sure I agree.
          They won lots of championships, sure – even lots of races in each season – but none of them won basically everything during that time. There was a relatively decent amount of variation in results from race to race throughout those years – be it due to reliability, more open strategic options for teams to trip over themselves, cars/tyre manufacturers suiting some tracks and not others, drivers making more errors, etc.
          While we could reasonably often successfully bet on the race winner (drivers and/or constructors) in advance – it wasn’t a certainty

          Then along came Mercedes in 2014, and rewrote the definition of dominance – and Red Bull have since refined it even further.

        2. Are you missing Mercedes 2014-2020 ?

          Red Bull during 2010-13 is not dominance. They had the better car but they always had competition (ask Alonso). Williams during 1992-97 had Schumacher as a competitor in 94 and 95 and then taking the WC decider until the last race.
          McLaren was dominant but still Williams won in 87 and there were races in which other team could eventually win.
          Ferrari was dominant from 2000 to 2004. 1999 Hakinnen won …

          1. Ferrari was dominant from 2000 to 2004.

            Ferrari was definitely not dominant in 2000 and 2003. Maybe one can include 2001, but not the other two.

            The Schumacher-Häkkinen battle wasn’t decided until the penultimate race, and was a great season. Similarly, the 2003 season was a great three-way battle between Schumacher, Monotya (Williams) and Räikkönen (McLaren). Only at the very end was Montoya too far back, and then the title was decided by a mere two points in the final race.

        3. Sure, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Most of those seasons were quite close and entertaining. McLaren only properly dominated the 1984, 1988 and 1989 seasons – and in all but the last of those had solid battles between teammates. Similarly, Williams won in style in 1992, 1993 and 1996 – but the last of that still had a pretty good battle between the teammates.

          Ferrari’s dominance is often overstated. Only in 2002 and 2004 did they outright dominate, and in 2001 they were made to look much better by Häkkinen mentally checking out, leaving Coulthard to mount a challenge for McLaren, something he was never able to do.

          Red Bull only really dominated from the get-go in 2011. The 2010 saw a great five-way fight for the title until the last two or three races. The 2012 season was pretty great (if you can overlook the contrived Pirelli shenanigans), and 2013 was shaping up to be another good one until the disastrous English GP forced Pirelli into introducing a face-saving compound, and a mid-season surge from Lotus and Mercedes cost Ferrari a lot of points relative to Vettel (Red Bull).

          1. José Lopes da Silva
            30th January 2024, 21:11

            and @Ankita I suppose you’re right, framing it that way.
            I personally do not oppose outright dominance from a team as long as we have an intra-team battle. Mercedes gave us that in 2014 and 2016.
            Then, 2017 and 2018 was surely not Mercedes dominance for that matter.
            Since the mid-eighties, regulation stability is allowing longer periods of a single team domination. Unless something quite structural schackles that, this will continue. We are 2 months away of celebrating the 15th anniversary of Brawn GP 1st win.

      3. Thank you. That would be the right way to phrase it.

        1. Obviously you say thanks to one who agrees with you but don’t address the comments saying several of the years you mentioned were not dominant at all and had 2 cars almost equal.

    2. I think there is little doubt that DC is correct. Red Bull’s feat of winning all but one race has only been achieved once before. I don’t think it’s good for the sport though and it is just a bit dull, especially with so many races.

      If a sport is not competitive then it is just not entertaining. Let’s hope it is a bit better this year.

    3. I’m always confused reading comments like this saying the Merc era was 7 years of non competition lol. Maybe this is drove to survive fans? 4 title fights, 2 which went to the end and a 5th season that was competitive for many races but Mainly in reverse. Not to menetion the worst 2 years still have a decent bunch of competitive races or upsets.

      A consistent result is not a sign of no competition.

      I mean if those 7 years were not competative then surely the last two seasons are almost erased from memory lmao.

    4. I disagree, 2017 and 2018 were quite competitive.

  3. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    30th January 2024, 3:54

    The new car will be officially called the ‘SF-24’, following the same naming system the team has used since 2015.

    The system would presumably be “SF + last two digits of the calendar year in which the car will compete.” Fun fact: During 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022, Ferrari didn’t actually use that system – unless the term “system” refers only to the prefix “SF,” and nothing else (in 2022 they didn’t even use the prefix).

    This means that during the decade that they’ve been using that system, they’ve actually only used it four times, making the term “system” kind of a misnomer. I’d be interested to know whether Ferrari themselves have been referring to their not-a-system as a “system.” If they have, I guess it’s on-brand for them.

    Also, yes – I’m fun at parties.

    1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
      30th January 2024, 4:02

      they’ve actually only used it four times,

      That was supposed to be five times – not four.

    2. This is the complete list since 2015:

  4. Red Bull domination ‘takes away some magic’- Coulthard

    No kidding…
    Who looks forward to a ‘competition’ with a likely known result before it starts? It doesn’t just change the reality of the competition, but also the perception of it. Audience numbers declining during Schumacher’s, Vettel’s and Hamilton’s dominant periods is indisputable evidence, and now it’s happening again.

    F1 commentator David Croft confirmed for Adelaide Motorsport Festival (Speedcafe)

    Who wants this???

    1. Not me. Since late 2019, F1 has become a silent movie sport – Mute Button Croft is his nickname here.

  5. Did Mercedes domination in the 50’s turn people off the sport? Nope. Did Lotus domination turn people off in the 60’s? Nope. Did McLaren domination turn people off in the 80’s? Nope. Did Williams domination turn people off in the 90’s? Nope. Did Ferrari domination turn people off in the 00’s? Nope. Did Red Bull and Mercedes domination turn people off in the 2010’s? Nope.

    I trust I’ve made my point, which is that dominant teams come and go across all eras and the sport has continued to grow. This era will be no different. To use David’s own words from, and I’m going on memory here so forgive me, the 2004 season review DVD “It’s not [Team X’s] fault they are winning everything, it’s the other teams fault for not doing a good enough job to challenge them”.

    Finally, I’ll never understand why dominance in F1 is bad, but a football team can win everything season after season and no one cares….

    1. No your point is false; it is a non linear argument. For there is a great unknown in your equation. How much larger would the audience have increased if there was an all out, tooth and nail, title fight between three or four teams? You are counting the diehard fans not the POTENTIAL increase a close competition could have bought in.

      Football is not a good analogy, very few if any (that I can recall) ever dominated year on year for 5 or more seasons. Even the giants like Barcelona, Manchester City or United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Roma, Inter Milan, etc. ever win more than 3 on a trot.

      1. If people are in for “crash, bang, wallop” racing, they should watch IndyCar, F2 or FE. F1 didn’t pander to kids like me in the early 90’s and millions of kids like me became die-hard fans. There is no reason that this won’t continue as it has for the last 7 decades.

        Also, Bayern Munich have currently won their league 11 times in a row. :)

        1. Who said competition has to consists of “crash, bang wallop” racing. That is a long and a completely erroneous straw to draw.

          Bayern Munich are the exception that prove the rule. Bundesliga interest is dropping.

          Worth a read to the problems that domination by one team has on competition;


          “Not only is the German Football Association (DFB) in the firing line after the women’s national team suffered the same fate as the men at the World Cup, the German Football League (DFL), which operates the Bundesliga, is trying to ramp up interest in a competition that, at least for many observers, is less attractive than ever.”

    2. @geemac we actually don’t know quite what effect most of those period of domination had on the audience at the time, given the lack of data for those periods. It’s possible that there were dips in interest during that period, but we can’t say either way whether that was the case.

      Furthermore, the fact that Formula 1 was trying to expand it’s coverage into new markets during the 1980s and 1990s means that, even if there were declines in some markets, the expansion into others could mask some of those effects and make the picture less certain.

      That said, on a global level, there may be some evidence of viewers switching off during the period of dominance by Vettel in the period in the 2010s and Mercedes thereafter. Global viewing figures are available from that period, and there is a noticeable drop in viewing figures from about 2010 through to 2017, and there is some evidence from Google that searches for news on F1 did also show a similar trend of decreasing activity, suggesting a possible link, albeit there is also the factor of whether the sport was also easily accessible to people during that period.

    3. Did Mercedes domination in the 50’s turn people off the sport? Nope. Did Lotus domination turn people off in the 60’s? Nope. Did McLaren domination turn people off in the 80’s? Nope. Did Williams domination turn people off in the 90’s? Nope. Did Ferrari domination turn people off in the 00’s? Nope. Did Red Bull and Mercedes domination turn people off in the 2010’s? Nope.

      People like to complain, and failing that, the like to repeat the complaining of others. And some even use that to make statements to allow others to complain.

      Let’s be honest since the first year there have been people who were turned off by the sport, and not all of them only when they died.
      And the more people that are turned on, the more can be turned off.

    4. Did Ferrari domination turn people off in the 00’s?


    5. Did Ferrari domination turn people off in the 00’s? Nope. Did Red Bull and Mercedes domination turn people off in the 2010’s? Nope.

      It absolutely did. Even the figures reported by F1 itself show this.

      They didn’t come up with all these shenanigans to spice things up because the numbers were strong. Thanks to Liberty taking F1 online in an often very well done way there have been improvements, but there’s still a long way to go to get back to the numbers from the early 2000s.

  6. When one team openly cheats to gain an insurmountable advantage of course the magic is going to get torn away. The worst part is not only that they likely didn’t need to (I could see RB still having won just to a less severe extent) but people are desperate to dismiss the fact and will deliberately twist past successes to be less then they are.

  7. Never call a dog “Lucky”.
    Or a car – Ferrari have been in this game a long time, hence another boring name.

  8. I thought Ferrari would use SF-75 for this tyre test, given cars from two years prior are the most recent machinery allowed for unlimited running outside race weekends & official group testing.

  9. My main issue with Coulthard’s words is not that they’re wrong, per se, but that they’re premature.

    Red Bull have won two Constructors’ championships in a row. That’s a quarter of the length of Mercedes’ winning streak, and only half as long as their own record of domination. It’s way too early to start talking about it damaging the sport – it’s like saying that F1 was in danger of killing itself off in 2015, when in fact the sport was about to undergo a considerable explosion in popularity.

    1. it’s like saying that F1 was in danger of killing itself off in 2015, when in fact the sport was about to undergo a considerable explosion in popularity.

      Yes, but they can’t take F1 online in a modern way twice. Reaching the people who are potential viewers but who weren’t attracted in the last ten years is a huge challenge. There has to be something to convince them, and more Red Bull dominance is not the way to do it.

      1. Depends if you’re talking about the actual last 10 years or the fantasied 10 years that some people want to believe where there was no competition. There’s been some amazing races in this “Mercedes era of dominance” that people like to dismiss it as, just as there was during the “Vettel era of dominance”.

    2. Even with it being only 2 years it’s perfectly reasonable a comment considering the level of dominance these past 2 season. Infact no mercedes season really compares, only 2020 could be an argument. This is why his point is true and perhaps more than ever given the rise in following. Has there ever been a worse stretch with such a void in competition? I don’t think so. Name one.

      1. You’re right to say the level of dominance doesn’t compare – Mercedes were much more dominant 2014-20 than Red Bull have been these last two seasons. As an example, look at podium hit rate – 68% for Red Bull last season. Mercedes were in the 80s in 2014-16. 68% is comparable to the 65% Mercedes achieved in 2017, which we’re always told was quite a competitive season actually.

        The biggest difference in my view is that Red Bull are generally the strongest team in all areas, so there are fewer places where they are guaranteed to struggle. By contrast Mercedes always had a weak point or two due to being a one-trick pony with the engine. But that didn’t make things any more exciting or less predictable when they did occasionally cede the top step.

        1. @red-andy this sounds like the sort of rhetoric that Red Bull might want to push to avoid the threat of possible regulatory change or closer scrutiny by the governing body.

          Many would say that the podium stat you have chosen seems to have been cherry picked to present a false picture, and would be more of a reflection of the failings of Perez than a reflection of the performance of the car.

      2. I have a different look on this. Technically I understand the only two years of Max/RB dominance comes across as intense, given Verstappen displays an enormous consistency; he is simply next level no matter where you put the combination of him and the RB on the grid. But the 8 years of Mercedes felt worse/more boring/processional as it was similarly predictable who was going to win the races and the season, but those came about less deserved in the sense that it wasn’t the driver/car combo that made the difference, but primarily the car (underlined by the Rosberg season and the Valtteri it’s James messaging and perpetual 1-2 finishes of the team). That I found more hurtful for F1 than a successtory that’s just two seasons in.

  10. This is by far the most uninteresting winter ever.
    Did ANYTHING happened at all other than Gunther getting the boot?

    1. + 1. Yes no driver changes is pretty unusual. The only thing that’s happened is that some teams have changed name.

    2. It’s been especially dire, much like the 2023 season.

  11. Constantijn Blondel
    30th January 2024, 12:31

    RIP “Lucky”.

    Being a highly paid racing driver doesn’t change the heartbreak <3

  12. The only people dominance turns off are those that weren’t true fans of the sport to begin with which is unfortunately 90% of who Liberty want watching now in order to justify them turning it into a show.

    And the more of a show it get’s turned into with more silly artificial gimmicks the more of the true fans of the sport get turned off which means they will have to keep going more & more down the silly artificial show route in order to maintain the fickle show over sport casual fans they are obsessed with replacing the true fans with.

    Rubbish like DRS, Comedy tires, sprint gimmicks, bonus points, a million races, horrid street circuit & car parks and all the absurdity like reverse grids will do far more to turn the genuine fans off than a team doing what they are supposed to be doing and beating the competition by as much as possible….. That is the very foundation of the sport, To win as often & by as much as possible & if you don’t like the sport and what it is then go watch something else so that those who do don’t have to suffer gimmick after gimmick to appease those who aren’t fans anyway!

    1. This should be comment of the day. +100

    2. Where is the line drawn that separates the wants of ‘true fans’ from the rest? F1 has for decades been shaped to be both entertaining, safe and interesting for the marketing purposes of manufacturers. It’s always a balance, and no matter which year one picks as the gold standard there’ll be people pointing out how it was better either before or after for this or that reason.

      F1 is a complex sport, so there’s going to be different ideas of what is a good way to go. Someone might not care that the engines are all frozen and mandated to be V6 Turbo Hybrids, but engine enthusiasts might find that a huge turn-off and perhaps prefer the approach in current sportscars, where pretty much everything is allowed and efficiency is the name of the game because only power output is capped. Similarly, others might love the (return of) street tracks as opposed to the very similar Tilkedromes that dominated in the 2000s, many of which have now been all but abandoned (Sepang, Istanbul, Buddh, Yeongam, etc.).

      And one can also appreciate that Verstappen and Red Bull did a great job last year (even if it was less impressive because of the engine situation), and also at the same time be bored by the lack of competition and not really tune in to watch.

    3. It’s not up to you or anyone else to determine another fans likes or dislikes.

    4. 100% agree but but true fans will be a dying breed. This now has become only a game about optimising revenue. And that is done through catering the needs of the casual fans. True fans, by far, do not deliver the revenue Liberty is after. We are only at the beginning of the gimmickry. My suggestion to true fans is to enjoy (and respect dominance) while we still can.

  13. I’ll still tune in to the races this season but usually right now every year I’m extremely anxious to get back to racing, at the current moment I could care less if we didn’t get racing back 6 months from now.

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