Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Amid accusations, Red Bull resume “business as usual” with crushing one-two

2024 Bahrain GP report

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These precious winter weeks, as February gives way to March, should be one of boundless excitement and optimism for any Formula 1 fan. The promise of a new championship, new narratives to be told, new excitement.

All anyone connected with Formula 1 wants to do at the start of a new season – from the drivers and team personnel to the sport’s administrators and especially the fans – is focus on and enjoy the racing. But no sport exists in a vacuum.

The allegations against one of the most well-known and powerful figures in the paddock – Red Bull team principal Christian Horner – hung like a dark cloud over the sport throughout February. Horner consistently denied any wrongdoing and the Red Bull parent organisation dismissed the complaint against him. But many involved in the sport were concerned it brought the wrong kind of attention on the eve of the new championship, even more so after an alleged leak of material from the investigation on Friday.

Through it all, Horner insisted it had been “business as usual” for his team. And for the world champions, that business is winning.

Start, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Verstappen closed out Leclerc at the start
So when Max Verstappen stuck the brand new RB20 on pole position at the first attempt at the Bahrain International Circuit, it seemed everything he, Sergio Perez and the team had insisted about being utterly unaffected by it all was true. But with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari being fastest of all on Friday – just not when it mattered most – there at least seemed hope that 2024 may not start with another 2023-style cruise to victory for Verstappen.

Sadly, for Leclerc, Ferrari and many of the millions watching, the eight metres that separated him from Verstappen in their grid slots was about as close as he ever got to the Red Bull. When the five red lights faded for the first time in 2024, so did any hopes of Verstappen being challenged over the opening race of the season.

Leclerc pulled to the outside into turn one as Verstappen secured the inside line, then made sure the Ferrari driver did not attempt to squeeze through in turn two. The Red Bull was comfortably ahead at the exit, while George Russell retained third largely thanks to Leclerc’s compromised exit delaying Perez, otherwise there could have been two Red Bulls in the top three heading down to turn four.

The season’s first collision came at the first corner: Lance Stroll was nudged by into a spin by Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas at the apex, while Valtteri Bottas also got involved. But with Stroll able to pull away and continue, there was no interruption to the racing as Verstappen led from Leclerc, Russell, Perez, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Fernando Alonso and the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

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DRS was activated on lap two in a grand prix for the first time ever, and Leclerc was still within a second of Verstappen, so had the chance to activate it. But that was the only lap in which he had that privilege as he fell out of range by the start of lap three, causing him to fall into the clutches of Russell behind. The Mercedes moved to the outside on the brakes heading into turn four and simply drove around the Ferrari through the right-hander to take second place.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Grappling with brake problems, Leclerc lost three places
But Leclerc was grappling with a problem in his Ferrari. One of his front brake discs was running over 100C hotter than the other. He struggled to keep the car straight while braking for the many slow corners – especially turn ten. Eventually, Leclerc dropped behind Perez on lap seven, then team mate Sainz demoted him to fifth five laps later.

But Leclerc’s brakes were not the only thing overheating. After messages to both Williams drivers about their critical power unit temperatures, Logan Sargeant triggered a brief yellow flag when he locked his brakes and stopped off-track on the outside of turn four. However, any thoughts of a Safety Car were quickly dispelled when he managed to get his car out of the run-off and back on track. He headed to the pits where Williams replaced his steering wheel.

All 20 drivers had chosen soft tyres for their first stint of the season with the top nine starters opting for used sets. At the end of lap 11, both Russell and Leclerc made their first stops for hard tyres, kicking off the first round of stops for the evening.

With his knowledge of the hards gained from Friday’s final practice in addition to the previous week’s test, Perez pushed hard from the moment he left the pit lane and successfully executed a tidy switchback manoeuvre on Russell exiting turn four to take sixth place – a net second. Pitting first allowed Leclerc to undercut Sainz after he had passed him earlier, but his braking imbalance was not getting any better.

“My car is fully going to the right when I’m braking,” an exasperated Leclerc informed his team. Soon, Sainz was back up behind his team mate and overtook him for the second time in 17 laps with a forceful lunge under braking for turn one. He then went on to put himself up into a podium position by sweeping around the outside of Russell’s Mercedes at turn four.

While all this played out, Verstappen had been content to do his own thing out front. Eventually he came in later than all 19 other drivers at the end of lap 17, emerging from the pit lane with a fresh set of hard tyres and a five second advantage over team mate Perez. Although both Red Bull drivers were encouraged to manage their new sets, Verstappen’s lead over his team mate had doubled by the end of lap 24.

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By now, the race had settled into largely the same rhythm it would run until the chequered flag. All throughout 2023, Verstappen’s key strength had been his ability to metronomically maintain his at a level no one else could touch. By half distance, he looked supremely comfortable – just as he had done many times last year.

George Russell, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Russell led the Ferraris at one staged but fell bending them
A third and final round of stops for the leaders was triggered by Russell on lap 30, with 27 laps remaining. Hamilton and the two McLarens were first to react, followed by the Ferraris, who kept their respective positions largely intact. All again chose their second sets of hard compound tyres for the final stint of the race, but Red Bull were sitting on untouched sets of softs for both their drivers.

The team decided now was the best time to use them, bringing Perez and Verstappen in for the final time on laps 36 and 37 respectively. Although Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase encouraged his triple world champion to be “easy in the first couple of laps” with his new rubber on the run to the flag, Verstappen had other things on his mind.

“Do let me know what the fastest lap is, if someone goes for it,” he directed Lambiase.

“Fastest at the moment is a 1’34.0, but that was on the hard tyre,” Lambiase explained. “Don’t forget, there are 20 laps to complete on this tyre, Max.”

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Just over half a minute later, Verstappen blitzed Leclerc’s previous best lap of a 1’34.090, lowering it to a 1’32.608. Around 17 seconds behind him, Perez was out of the equation when it came to the fight for victory. He was still running with Sainz’s Ferrari in his mirrors, though it posed no threat of getting within DRS range.

Daniel Ricciardo, RB, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
Tsunoda fumed over radio call to let Ricciardo by
The closest battle near the front of the field was between Russell and Leclerc for fourth place. Leclerc’s braking difficulties has lessened, and the Mercedes driver was the one to lock up into turn ten and run wide, allowing the Ferrari to out-drag him down the back straight and relieve him of fourth.

With ten laps remaining, the top ten positions were already set. The biggest battle in the field was between Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and the two RBs of Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo. Despite being three positions and almost ten seconds out of reach of points, the RB pit wall chose to ask the hard-shod Tsunoda to make way for Ricciardo and his softs behind. After some resistance, Tsunoda eventually complied. “Yeah, thanks guys,” he said, sarcastically “I appreciate it.”

There was no danger of such a situation occuring at RB’s sister team, such was the scale of Verstappen’s lead over Perez. All the pre-season anticipation for whether anyone could hope to challenge Verstappen this year had vanished into the Bahrain night sky.

At the end of 57 well-managed, uncomplicated and uneventful laps, the world champion took the chequered flag and, with it, a maximum haul of 26 points. But despite it being such a familiar story, Verstappen insisted this was an exceptional performance from the team.

“I think today everything just went really well,” he said after the race. “The balance, the feeling for myself in the car. That is not always like that. Sometimes you win races, but you’re maybe not very happy with how you were feeling with the car or the balance of the car. But today that was all very good.”

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Perez was 22 seconds behind his team mate at the finish – double the gap between them at last year’s season opener. In third, Sainz drew encouragement from how close he was to Perez rather than dwell on the yawning gap to the race winner.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024
The 2024 season looks like being a repeat of last year
Despite struggling with his uneven brakes which affected him throughout the race, Leclerc held onto fourth to cement Ferrari’s position as Red Bull’s closest rivals in the early season. Russell was fifth ahead of a satisfied Norris in sixth, a disappointed Hamilton in seventh, while Oscar Piastri, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll secured the remaining points. The latter had recovered well following his early setback given the absence of Safety Car periods.

All 20 drivers that started the first race of the season finished it for the first time even in Formula 1. But after the chequered flag, there was almost contact between the two RB team mates. Having failed to pass Magnussen, Ricciardo was not told to allow Tsunoda back through. At the start of a critical season for both RB team mates, this was felt even more acutely by Tsunoda, who dived by Ricciardo at turn eight on the cool-down lap in an obvious gesture of frustration.

There was no such frustration at Red Bull. Their dominant one-two not only dispelled any thoughts of them being challenged by their rivals in the near future, it had been achieved in the eye of a media storm that has not abated.

With 23 rounds still to go, including one next week in Saudi Arabia, it is still much too soon to write off an entire season on the basis of one weekend. But it is clear that whatever consequences follow from Red Bull’s investigation into Christian Horner and the developments that have unfolded since, the talented workers at the heart of Red Bull’s F1 team who have made all their success over recent seasons possible will continue their business as usual. They look no more likely to be beaten than they did 12 months ago.

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Author information

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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69 comments on “Amid accusations, Red Bull resume “business as usual” with crushing one-two”

  1. This wasn’t a good race for F1. More or less a continuation of last year.

    I’d like to see less racing and more testing. I never thought I’d say that but push has come to shove. This result was entirely predictable, 3 months off, testing at the same venue as the race, 3 days of testing new concepts was always going to end in status quo. Combine that with the same driver line up and it’s a 50 race 2023 season.

    I’d like to see 9 days of testing at 3 circuits, then 2 in season tests. The argument against excessive testing was that it favoured the big teams who could afford it and improved reliability. Reliability is 100% now, and the budget cap keeps all teams more or less profitable.

    The product is oversaturated, less racing would make each one more important and with more testing we may have new ideas or bigger progress jumps. Frankly, this race, with very limited overtaking, has been a long time coming and if we continue to add sprint races it’ll turn off more viewers than it’ll bring in.

    1. I agree with this idea.

      1. @rbalonso

        Totally agree with what your saying. The product is way over saturated and underdeveloped, the quality is lower than it has been in the past. The new tight budget cap & reduction of testing was the idea to stop rich teams from running away turning it into an arms race. Well now, the same tight budget and heavily restricted testing seems to be doing the same thing. The teams who already have the lead are able to keep it because teams are not allowed to test their packages more and teams are not allowed to develop more because of cost caps and very tight design restrictions. This only allows a small percentage of typical gain from previous season. Red Bull obtaining the same percentage of speed found during the off season as the other teams gives it again the lead. Game over before it started.

        Less racing, more testing and development, so when we do have actual races, it’s a much better package and more of a true race than a parade with the same predictable results, year after year.

        Quality over Quantity!

    2. I agree with solutions that would improve the level of competition, I don’t agree with reducing the amount of races.

      If a season has a 2023 or 2024 competition level, whether it has 10 or 100 races, I won’t watch, simple as that.

      On other hand, if a season is interesting, it’s better to have 25 races than 16!

      1. I suppose the counter point to that is – how many interesting seasons have we had of extreme length? 1 in 2021? At the very least I think we should go back to the 1980s ‘drop a result’ model and say the best 18 races count for the title. Something to introduce a bit of drama into the title fight.

        I’ve seen this “Max walks it” GP before. It’s been the majority of races for the past season and a half. I’m despondent that the prediction is he’ll win another 15 this year. With sprint events, F1 are looking for 5 or 6 hours of my attention in the middle of my afternoon, more weekends than not, for the next 9 months. That’s a hard sell for the completionist die hards like myself who’d like to take it all in.

        I honestly believe fewer GPs and no sprints will keep the audience hungry. We’re on the crest of a wave at the moment, DTS and Netflix gave the sport a huge boost, covid helped solidify that audience before a superb 2021 season. With 2022 starting romantically (good looking youngster leading in a Ferrari), the sport looked in great shape. Can I see that fanbase sticking around to watch this? I’m not sure – one predictable, boring event once in a while is fine – a boring formula is something else entirely.

    3. Remember that Red Bull have the least amount of testing of everyone at the moment, and are still comfortably ahead of the entire pack. Giving them more testing won’t make them slower.

      The team/s at the front are there not just because they have the ‘best’ resources and most money – but because they are making the best use of their time.

      And less racing….? When there was less, people said they wanted more…
      If you want to watch less, you know what to do.

      1. “watch less” is a complete strawman argument. I want to see a quality product. 10 great races are better than 20 Bahrain 2024s. We’ve watched cars get bigger, lazier, less exciting. The races are more predictable, with drivers waiting for DRS. The least we can ask for is that the team give the best account of themselves on track.

        Here’s an article for 2013 when there were 19 races, with Alonso rejecting a 20th. So there wasn’t always support for more. We’re 20% more than that now, 10% more than any other season ever.

        1. I want to see a quality product. 10 great races are better than 20 Bahrain 2024s.

          I totally agree – but reducing the season down to 10 races doesn’t raise the quality. Quality is independent of quantity here. There could (theoretically) be 24 great races on the calendar this year – but it’s extremely unlikely because of the underlying lack of quality of this (racing) series.

          I didn’t say support for a larger calendar was universal – it never was and never will be. Some people said 16 was too many back then, too.
          You can’t account for such diversity in desire, other than to supply enough to satisfy everyone and let them individually decide how much of it to consume.

          1. I think it depends on the factors which determine ‘quality’. For me, a huge element of any sport, but particularly our sport, is predictability. Assuming the teams don’t stand still, and there are opportunities for them to test, we could have a change in the running order month to month. That can only happen if there are gaps in the schedule which the current calendar restricts. For example, are you expecting a huge change in performance levels from any team over the 5 days between Bahrain and Saudi?

            Furthermore, if the calendar was smaller, teams would tailor their strengths and weaknesses to track types rather than a one size fits all approach necessitated by volume. So quantity and quality can and are linked.

            With regard to calendar length, those criticising 16 races were doing so in an era of testing every free weekend. Ferrari brought 14 engines to Suzuka one year – it was madness and needed to stop. There was a happy medium around 18-20 races pre Liberty which felt manageable for teams and fans. The current volume is a marked increase which including sprint races has led to a poorer product than we ought to have for the sake of greed. We’re exploited as a fan base and the solution is not to simply give up on decades of support – it’s to call for meaningful change.

    4. 9 days of testing surely cannot be supported under this budget cap. Testing is expensive and the development after that is expensive. Teams will need bigger budgets and gaps between races for it. Because testing squads are not a thing anymore the same race squad will end up being the testing team.

      1. If you’re going to 4 less races you can afford to go to 4 more tests.

    5. Very good points.

  2. Rant aside and actual GP analysis.

    Red Bull are enormously impressive, and Max is unbelievable. Ferrari made a poor set up choice, going too aggressive with cooling I think. Mercedes have made a step forward – a lot of doom and gloom because of comparison with quali but with a new car, what was the expectation? McLaren were a bit further back but don’t really like it here and Oscar was closer on race pace. Aston struggled, but Fernando gave me the impression on lap 3 that he knew he’d finish 9th no matter what he did and just drove around as part of a test session.

    Still a big gap from the top 5 to the rest. Williams were a bit disappointing but with a new concept they’ll take time to get up to speed. RB was a lot slower than most predicted. Haas seem to have improved their tyre wear and Hulk impressive in quali again. Zhou did a good job for Sauber and Alpine are a disgrace.

    1. Max is unbelievable.

      I wonder if Max would be as unbelievable if he felt any kind of challenge from his team mate.

      1. Coventry Climax
        3rd March 2024, 11:14

        That would mean Checo would be unbelievable, and indeed he is. Too bad it’s not on track, but only his words.

      2. Unfortunately for us I don’t think Max was pushing at any time, except for his fastest lap. The winning gap could easily have been 40 seconds.

      3. I suspect that he would. Michael was still unreal with Irvine as his team-mate, when he won Hungary 98 or Spa 97, no-one asked if he’d be capable of it with DC in the other car. A good performance is a good performance.

      4. Who, as his teammate, do you honestly think would beat him?

    2. notagrumpyfan
      3rd March 2024, 9:35

      Fair review, and better than the ‘rant’ above ;)
      Overall (excluding Alpine) there were a lot of positives to be taken from this race.

    3. “Max is unbelievable”
      What’s so unbelievable? He has the fastest, easiest to drive car. He has no team internal nor external competition.
      He is not getting tested in any way.

      1. He’s utterly unbelievable when he says he has absolutely no interest in the behind the scenes rows involving Horner, now that daddy has opened his big mouth again.

      2. I think we know the level of Max’s genius that it’s not simply a case of “it’s the car”. He qualified a car which shouldn’t have been on pole there, was 10s up after 7 laps, got fastest lap and stretched out 15 seconds over his team-mate who was in a battle. All without a mistake or complaint. This level of consistent performance is not normal.

        Michael won 7 in a row once and 6 once. Lewis’ max win streak was 5. Max just won his 8th in a row and had a one race gap from 10 in a row. So 18 of the last 19, 34 of 42. This is unbelievable.

        1. It’s not w fair comparison. Hamilton had a better teammate when he was in his prime and driving the best car. That’s the whole point I am trying to make. Winning against Rosberg gives us more information than winning against Perez. That’s all.

          1. Rosberg was a very good driver but not great.
            You admit Hamilton was in his prime yet Rosberg beat him.

          2. Rosberg won 7 in a row when Hamilton was his teammate and ahead in the 8th when they made contact.

            Hamilton’s car was plenty dominant in the 5 years Bottas was his teammate. Lewis has 103 wins, his teammates 46 for the record. Was peak Valterri better than Chemo? Probably. By this margin?

            In any event, this is not a comparison between greats – Hamilton unquestionably is, Schumacher unquestionably is. Max is well in that category now though. It’s a glasshouse argument when comparing them to teammates.

  3. Usual RBR boredom. They tricked Merc and Ferrari into an engine freeze and now reap the fruits for the third year in a row.

    1. How those 2 agreed to an engine freeze after the Vettel years still boggles the mind.

    2. Boredom for the ones that only look at the top spot. The fans that also like the action in the field had quite some things to look at.

      Mercedes and Ferrari agreed to advance the engine freeze by a year because concessions were made compared to the originally planned engine freeze in 2023. Thus, some adjustments/changes to the engine were/are allowed under the guise of: “for the sole purposes of reliability, safety, cost saving, or minimal incidental changes”.

  4. Qualy was on Friday when most people were in work. I only found that out about two hours before it started. I discovered that the race was on the Saturday and not the Sunday at the same time as I realised qualy was about to start.

    Throw in the fact that the race was utterly, mind-numbingly boring and you’ve got a one very, very disappointing weekend!

    1. Mmm, I suppose missing the race would be a blessing in disguise in this case!

    2. You didn’t think to check at any point earlier in the week? Or the last 3 months?

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      3rd March 2024, 15:52

      Yeah, apparently next week is also on Saturday, right? What a strange thing to do.

      What’s next? Regular weekday races? I thought it was a Sprint Race weekend because they were holding practices on Thursday.

      1. It’s Ramadan.

  5. It took just two years of Ferrari domination to come up with new qualifying and point systems. Then after another, non-subsequent year of domination they overhauled the entire tyre regulations.

    It took just one year of Mercedes domination, and some bad rule writing on tyre post of the FIA to open the door, for the engine token system to be first overhauled and then all but scrapped. After the years F1 introduced one of the biggest aerodynamic changes in decades, widening the cars and introducing all new tyre dimensions.

    And so on.

    The time to act is now. The 2022 spec, especially after the Mercedes-requested floor changes that led to the infamous mid-season TD, are an abject failure.

    1. I noticed you didn’t mention Red Bull while criticizing F1 teams that have dominated.

      1. Probably because the previous red bull dominant era wasn’t as dominant, in 2010 and 2012 for example the car wasn’t significantly faster than the competition and on occasion not even the fastest car, nothing to do with the utter dominance of mercedes in 2014-2016 + 2020 and red bull now.

      2. Red Bull didn’t really dominate other than in 2011. Even then, it was against a backdrop of the FIA doing a lot of work to get rid of the blown diffusers. They didn’t sit by the sidelines and say ‘it is like that sometimes’. In 2013 there was a very clear reason (Pirelli) for their end of season run of wins, and there was no real appetite to make changes seeing as how 2014 was going to be a big shake-up regardless.

        The FIA has a responsibility to balance restrictions on development with the outcome. If they ban development in areas A, B and C they cannot let development in area D become so singularly important that it ruins the series. They also can’t let FOM write the rules; as we see now, the 2022 spec in which they had a huge hand are a big failure.

    2. The other factor of course is that Liberty are in charge now. Making money has become the overwhelming driving factor in the entertainment product that used to be F1. The quality of the racing is probably of secondary importance.

      1. They could make much more money with a competitive season. The teams are far too powerful, and they never want to change anything – and if they do, they can never agree on what because they’re all run by people who are obsessed with technical minutiae that the average viewer neither understands nor cares about.

        I’m no fan of Mosley, but together with Ecclestone he knew that for F1 to remain relevant and exciting it needed regular shake-ups. And they may not have gotten all of it right, but at least they tried.

        F1 is already talking about 2026 as though a dumbed-down hybrid power unit will be a the big new thing for F1. That’s something that even today when it has some genuinely interesting parts most people couldn’t explain. Come on.

  6. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    3rd March 2024, 9:49

    I haven’t missed a race (obviously sometimes recorded) since 1996. I have huge respect for Max and what Red Bull are doing but you know what, this just isn’t for me anymore. I’m going to free up my spare time and just keep a casual eye on things from now on, unless there’s significant change. Sorry for self indulgent post but F1 has been a huge part of my life so it’s a big thing to walk away.

    I’m watching big heavy boats, with no inspiring sound, only DRS overtakes, a sport that’s selling its soul to the highest bidder, cars which are driven more like WEC than the F1 I knew, no refuelling, silly part change restrictions, Saturday races, awful sprint races, some horrific street tracks, an over saturated calendar, series that doesn’t drive in the wet and to top it all off very little competition.

    So I’ve admired domination in the past, I will hold my hand up and say Max probably is the best I’ve ever seen, massive respect but with the other factors above, it’s time to use all those hours a year more effectively.

    1. @rdotquestionmark

      Agreed, our own time is indeed valuable, especially during your weekend off when your free to do whatever and there’s a lot to do out there.

      Using that time to sit and watch spectacle parades is not so valuable as it use to be while watching racing. And yes, the cars are now very heavy wide boats being put on smaller and smaller tracks and expected to perform like they use to in the past.

      I happily can spend my time off doing others things more rewarding, like counting holes in the ceiling or chopping wood. Would be awesome when there’s a time again to put F1 on top of the list of things to do on weekends off, but not so much now. I love racing.

      PS: I also agree on Red Bull and Max, they’ve done a spectacular job dominating the other top F1 teams and getting it right. But I would like to see other teams being able to race as well.

    2. I agree. Liberty has ran the sport into the ground and replaced it with a cheap entertainment franchise, similar to an average real live soap. As was expected from a stock listed entertainment company. Bernie wasn’t exactly ideal but at least he had some tiny part of racesport love in him.

    3. Agree and good point about wet racing, another weakness of the current era compared to the 80s and 90s.

    4. Coventry Climax
      3rd March 2024, 12:07

      My history with F1 goes back quite a bit more, but still, I absolutely share the overall sentiment you wrote down here.

      The bottomline -for me- of all the wrong turns F1 have taken over the last years, is that F1 used to be a source of top level excitement, interest, fun, joy and pleasure, where practically all it does these days, is being a source of anger and frustration.
      Also for me, that includes the opinion of modern fans.
      Lots of people are apparently discontent with what F1 currently is; just read the comments here.
      However, most yell for even more rules to weed out all exotics and cut the remaining grass ever more even, all in the name of ‘fair competition’. (Shock news for all of them: With either no rules at all, up to having everything and anything regulated, or anything inbetween: The playing field is already always the same for everyone. Well, unless your name is Cadillac, apparently.) What’s next? Have drivers partially blindfolded in an attempt to equalise their Balance of Powers as well?
      They forget, or haven’t been around long enough to know, that it was rules and rules and more rules that brought us this misery in the first place.
      What changed over the years, that had F1 go from enjoyable to annoying?
      Rules, nothing else.
      F1 is ending up as one of those marble run tracks you see on YT: Yes, all marbles have the same chance, yes, it’s fully unpredictable, no it isn’t sports and even if fun once as a gimmick, it’s certainly not exciting enough to watch 20 differently coloured, yet otherwise fully identical marbles run 24 times a year.

      I’m not amazed that such a show requires all the controversy it can get in order to be profitable and spark the ‘interest’ of fans. Done ‘right’ it’s apparently even more profitable than real sport. Fine, their choice.
      Like Roth Man, @rdotquestionmark , I’ll make mine.

  7. The race might be criticised, but at least the write-up is quality :)

  8. worst nightmare come true really. Max and even Checo stroll off into the distance! It is quite interesting behind, but even then the racing seemed to be about catching, and then once they had DRS it was all over. Or perhaps it was the coverage, flitting to and fro all the time and then just showing the pass in replay and only the pass not how it was set up one or two corners before. Bad first race to start the season, anyway

    But the Horner thing, lol now are talking about Jos being behind it, and Max being quoted saying Christian “has been” a great team principal! I think there is a Verstappen axis and Christian wants to get rid of Jos. Hope he succeeds!

    1. Don’t lie, Checo didn’t stroll off into the distance, did he? 2.5seconds over Sainz.

    2. @Zann
      “Has been” a great TP, is OK
      “Was” a great TP, would be bad news for Horner.

      1. yes ‘has been’ is better than ‘was’, but not as good as ‘is’

        and now the Daily Mail is quoting Jos saying “There is tension here while he remains in position, The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.’

        and talking about a blazing row between Jos and Christian

        1. It seems Jos is closer to the top man in Austria than Horner… plus Marko is a Jos ally!
          I dread what may come next.

          1. yes Helmut! But the ‘investigation’ was with Christian, so who knows. The Thai drinks empire co owner was in Bahrain apparently. Best case, FIA disqualify Max for behaviour detrimental to their self esteem, I mean the championship, and we would seriously have a season :)

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          3rd March 2024, 15:49

          This may explain why Red Bull didn’t settle as they should have. Was the Thai Drinks owner the man standing next to Horner cause that means he’s backing Horner? Marko and Newey were standing a bit too far from Horner.

          It’s a huge statement from Jos. Is that payback for the start of last season where Checo was competing with Max and Jos was visibly irked?

          1. while we’re guessing, @freelittlebirds, mine is that Jos wanted more say in decisions. More that just a dad would have. I’d say Adrian gets a lot of freedom under Christian so he’ll be on Christian’s side, and old Helmut doesn’t want the Brits taking over and also he naturally sides with a driver

            Dietrich used to back Christian and now he’s gone, so the balance is gone.

            The inquiry was a Head Office thing that sided with Christian, and now they’ll know what Christian said to the mystery staff woman, which I’m guessing was slightly assuming a relationship that wasn’t quite as close as he thought and was open to being interpreted different ways, then it got to Jos and he persuaded her to make a complaint, so that he could get rid of Christian instead of vice versa

            Dads can be a problem, especially if they’re into power the way domestic abusers are into power

          2. @zann That all seems plausible, though I’m not sure any such power play would be limited to ‘more say in decisions.’ What would that even look like in practice? Surely some (big) finance is involved?

  9. And the latest: BBC say Hamilton has been giving his opinion on the Horner saga, which isn’t very classy of him I have to say. He should zip that cake hole.
    Also, Jos V and Toto have been seen together. Seems thick Jos is receiving advice from snake Toto about how to make more trouble.
    Likely this mess will only get worse, which is what Woolf wants…

    1. Verstappen (the junior variety) also offered his opinion that Horner had clearly been ‘distracted’ from his job over the race weekend. Was that ‘classy’?

      1. No, you’re right. All non-involved parties should observe silence.

    2. Also: maybe the ‘solution’ is Verstappen switching to Mercedes?
      If so, that’s going to create a lot of cognitive dissonance for a lot of people…

      1. I can absolutely see that happening.
        Considering first Hamilton going to Ferrari.

        My (probably crazy) prediction for 2025:
        – Horner may get forced out of Red Bull
        – With Horner out, Newey also leaves Red Bull
        – Newey joins Hamilton at Ferrari
        – Horner goes to Aston (Aston likely to improve)
        – Sainz joins Aston
        – Verstappen goes to Mercedes
        – Perez stays at Red Bull
        – Albon rejoins Red Bull
        – Lawson comes in for Williams

        1. Well the rumour is that if Horner goes, Newey goes. Whether he’d stay in Formula 1 and take on Ferrari rather than retire, I don’t know. But must be tempting to go there with two excellent drivers signed up.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            4th March 2024, 22:13

            I would love to see Horner go to another team and Newey go somewhere else. I don’t like Horner but I think he’s a very capable manager and this sport needs managers like him. There’s a side of him that’s not terrible like his decision to bring Daniel back.

            Unfortunately, Red Bull have kinda stacked the deck to death with the 2 teams, the budget, the overspend, plus Newey and Max so of course they should be winning big. Even their pit stops are out of this world.

            How could they not win?

            So destabilizing Red Bull would be a good thing for the sport.

    3. …though of course the far more likely explanation is that any deliberately public private conversing between the two would be to lever even more pressure on Horner with the ‘threat’ of persuading MV to leave RB (which would be a bad idea probably, but anyhow).

  10. So now it’s out there that Jos Verstappen thinks

    There is tension here while [Horner] remains in position. The team is in danger of being torn apart. It can’t go on the way it is. It will explode. He is playing the victim, when he is the one causing the problems.

    Two obvious questions: how does Verstappen’s father pushing for Horner’s dismissal affect the team? And what does this suggest about all the media leaks on an issue that could and probably should have remained an internal disciplinary matter?

    1. And what does this suggest about all the media leaks on an issue that could and probably should have remained an internal disciplinary matter?

      Jos Verstappen probably has a good idea who, or at least which side of this saga, is leaking the information, and what their goal is. And Jos perhaps thinks he has a good idea of who is going to come out on top in this struggle, and just wants to get it over with before it compromises his son’s excellent circumstances.

      1. The thing is, given the Red Bull internal investigation has declared the issue resolved, would you back the guy who built the team and saw it dominate Formula 1 twiceor a mouthy trouble-maker whose only contribution now seems to be to inject instability, from the outside, in an almost 100% successful racing outfit?

  11. it’s Christian or Jos, one of them has to go. The car is so good, they don’t actually need Max do they? Carlos will do just as well

    So I think they’ll call Jos’ bluff and kick him out, then Max will smell the coffee and not flounce off with daddykins after all. Toto will not be interested in that toxicity, he has George, so Max has nothing better than Aston at best, and even there Lawrence might not fancy it, so he has to stay with Adrian. And after all there’s Seb, Danny, Kimi, who else, lots of drivers who’ve suddenly looked more ordinary when they get into someone else’s car, so moving is a huge risk

    1. @zann Well exactly. But I’m lost as to why Red Bull didn’t resolve this long ago.
      Max Verstappen probably needs to do the same as Hamilton did and cut this professional involvement of his father, though ‘professional’ in Verstappen senior’s case is clearly only a courtesy. The guy’s 100% toxic. Mercedes could easily sign Max – the actual brilliant racing driver – and discard the useless bit of the package.

  12. Undeniable that the RB is the best car out there right now. But Max makes it look even better, the real RB is the one in Checo’s hands.
    I would love to see the now Max and the prime Lewis in the same car, I think that would be a close contest.
    The “now” Max and the “now” Lewis, in my pinion would be Max hands down.

  13. Accusations? We have moved on. The season has started.

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