Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Virtually unbeatable Verstappen puts simracing aside to collect Jeddah win

2024 Saudi Arabian GP report

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In the twilight of a long, hard Wednesday filled with briefings and countless media questions about his team, his father and his future with Red Bull, Max Verstappen retired to his Jeddah hotel for some rest and relaxation.

As it was past 10pm at night, the Formula 1 world champion decided he would wind down for the evening by sitting at the desk of his hotel room, grabbing his controller and joining his Team Redline buddies for some online malarkey, testing out iRacing’s new rain feature.

Streaming live on Twitch, as he often does, Verstappen was in his element wrestling a virtual Porsche GT3 around a wet damp Algarve circuit. Although it might have been past his pre-race bedtime, it was hard to blame the Red Bull driver: This was likely to be the closest racing he enjoyed all week.

After he and Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez showed no one had caught the world champions over the winter in Bahrain, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin could at least hope that the RB20 may be easier to keep up with around the fast, flowing corners of the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

It was not.

Verstappen’s pole margin was larger in Saudi Arabia than it had been in Bahrain – three tenths of a second. But at least the car alongside him on the front row wasn’t the second Red Bull but the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc who pipped Perez with his final effort.

Start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Perez got the jump on Leclerc but couldn’t make a move stick
Leclerc was caught between both RB20s on the grid with no back-up. Team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr was looking on from the garage, one day removed from emergency appendix surgery.

Instead, 18-year-old Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman occupied Sainz’s SF-24, eyes wide and heart racing as he faced the prospect of his first grand prix start with minimal preparation around one of the championship’s toughest circuits from 11th position.

To boost Bearman’s confidence, Ferrari gifted their youngest-ever F1 driver a brand new set of soft tyres for his first grand prix stint. Only Valtteri Bottas joined in eschewing mediums for the more fragile compound.

At the front, Leclerc was eager to become the latest driver to leap from second on the grid to the lead at turn one in Jeddah. But when the lights went out, Verstappen denied him, covering off the inside line to turn one.

That allowed Perez to sweep around the outside and claim the apex of turn two. But despite being ahead, he was out-muscled by Leclerc on the run to turn four to ensure second stayed his. “I was like, ‘oh, I hope Checo will leave the space’,” recalled Leclerc. “And he did.”

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At the end of lap one, only ninth-placed Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda in tenth had changed positions out of the top ten starters. Pierre Gasly’s early stoppage due to a gearbox fault which left him unable to shift higher than fifth ensured this would not be the third consecutive race in which every car was classified.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Stroll’s race was even shorter than last year’s
In the second race since F1 allowed drivers to activate DRS from lap two, Verstappen ensured Leclerc was no longer within the one-second range once the system was enabled. Leclerc instead had to focus on his mirrors as the second Red Bull of Perez was comfortably within a second of him.

Perez tucked into the Ferrari’s slipstream along the pit straight at the end of the third lap, but while he backed off early approaching turn one to avoid risking contact, Leclerc appeared willing to cede the place and Perez was up to second.

While Jeddah is widely considered to be one of the easiest strategy calls of the season with its low tyre wear rate, the ever-present risk of an unexpected Safety Car means it’s never quite that simple. For the second successive season in Saudi Arabia, Stroll became the trigger for a Safety Car intervention – although this year, he could not blame his Aston Martin.

Stroll misjudged his entry to the fast left hander of turn 22, like so many have before him, hitting the barrier at the apex and earning a free ride to the reinforced TecPro lining the outside of the run off. Although he was unhurt, the same could not be said for the barrier, and the Safety Car was inevitably deployed.

With 44 laps remaining, the prospect of asking the hard tyres to hold up for the final 265km of the race was not ideal, but entirely possible. Red Bull and Ferrari were eager to keep things simple with both teams calling in both drivers to pit for hard tyres. McLaren followed with Oscar Piastri, as did Aston Martin with Fernando Alonso. But Lando Norris figured it was worth trying something different and stayed out, as did Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Zhou Guanyu.

By the time the field formed up behind Aston Martin’s new Safety Car, Norris was leading the pack on the medium tyres he had started on, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez and Leclerc. To make his strategy work, Norris knew he’d have to sprint as hard as he could for as long as he could. His mission commenced at the restart at the start of lap 10, with him successfully staying clear of Verstappen stalking him down the pit straight.

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But even with softer tyres than the former race leader, Norris could feel the inevitable coming and warned his team that Verstappen would soon be by him. As with everything Verstappen does, his pass to reclaim the lead into turn one at the start of the 13th lap looked he was just playing a game with the difficulty turned too low. He was now back in front and would remain so for the remaining 38 laps.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
A hasty exit from the pits landed Perez in trouble
Perez was past Hamilton and into third in the same amount of time it took his team mate to take back the lead. But a five-second time penalty Perez had received for an unsafe pit release – he had gone while Red Bull’s traffic light was still red – meant he would keep to keep his speed up as he nursed his tyres to the end. Meanwhile, Verstappen’s new fastest lap of the race indicated the leader felt no need to manage his tyres just yet.

Leclerc was soon past Hamilton too. Now only Norris was left for he and Perez to overcome, which Perez did at turn two at the start of lap 18. It took a little longer for Leclerc to do the same, eventually overtaking the McLaren with the aid of DRS on lap 27. Over the halfway point of the race, Verstappen’s lead sat at just over seven seconds to his team mate, who held a helpful gap of eight seconds to the Ferrari behind – more than enough to keep his position safe with his penalty.

The second Safety Car which Norris and Hamilton craved showed no sign of materialising, and the pair resigned themselves to waiting for the perfect point to swap their medium tyres and push hard over the final stint. For Mercedes, that was with 14 laps remaining at the end of lap 36. Norris had no interest in being undercut and called for his team to cover Hamilton the next lap. They did, but the four seconds spent stationary due to a slow right-rear change allowed Hamilton to draw within a second of the McLaren.

Hamilton tried to pressure Norris along the pit straight the next time by, but Norris snaked laterally across the track, trying to break the Mercedes’ tow. He kept Hamilton at bay, but earned a black-and-white flag as a warning from race control for weaving. It mattered little as Hamilton’s Mercedes was weak through the high-speed corners, could not keep up with the McLaren through the first sector and fell out of DRS range.

With the pair having finally stopped, Bearman was now sitting in a genuine seventh place and matching the pace of Leclerc 20 seconds ahead of him. But with Norris and Hamilton behind him on fresh softs, he would face intense pressure for the final 11 laps as he tried to stay out of reach. “You’re doing a mega job out there,” race engineer Ricardo Adami encouraged his young driver.

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McLaren had given Norris a target of catching Alonso in fifth, but it quite became clear that was simply not viable. Not even the extra grip of the soft tyres was allowing him to get within two seconds of Bearman ahead, let alone DRS range.

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Despite little practice, newcomer Bearman impressed
“We might have a chance to stay ahead of both of them,” Adami encouraged the rookie. “Just focus on your fastest race until the end.”

Ahead, the leaders’ tyres were now all around 40 laps old. Verstappen began to feel his tyres losing temperature as he continued to keep well within his maximum pace. This was not helped when he had to navigate around a gaggle of backmarkers stuck behind Kevin Magnussen, losing yet more speed in the process. But with a seven-second lead and the knowledge that Perez would have five seconds tacked onto whatever he finished in, there was still no real pressure being applied to him.

Verstappen hit all of his marks for the remainder of the race, eventually crossing the line to secure his 100th podium finish of his career, his ninth consecutive grand prix victory and his 19th from the last 20. It had not been quite as straightforward as Bahrain, but if anything, it had been all the stronger for it.

Lap Chart 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Interactive data: Ferrari pick up the pace too late to stop Red Bull running away again
“I think the whole weekend, the car has been performing really well, probably a little bit better than expected even,” the winner said after the race. “Overall, of course, very pleased to win here.”

Perez was much closer to his team mate this time around, under nine seconds before his unsafe release penalty dropped him to 13 seconds adrift. Leclerc was a further five seconds back, his first podium of the season.

“We maximised everything today,” said Leclerc. “I look back the last six, seven months, we are the team that have improved the most and we are slowly closing the gap. The gap is still quite big, but if we keep working like that, I’m sure it’s a matter of time before we put the Red Bull under a bit more pressure.”

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After countless laps stuck behind Hamilton before he was released, Oscar Piastri took fourth. Fernando Alonso exceeded his and his team’s expectations with a top five finish.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Haas’ tactics angered one of their rivals
Russell led a quartet of British drivers home, less than three seconds ahead of the newest addition to the grid. Bearman completed a memorable and deeply impressive debut in seventh having out-run Norris and Hamilton.

Nico Hulkenberg claimed the final point in tenth after the team deployed Kevin Magnussen to hold up the chasing pack to the tune of over 12 second. This infuriated RB, who accused Magnussen of “unsportsmanship” and vowed to raise the matter with the FIA.

Verstappen made it two wins from two at the start of his championship defence and it was hard not to detect the resignation in some of the voices in the paddock after the race about the pace of the Red Bulls being even stronger than they had all anticipated. Only a last-lap effort by Leclerc denied the champion a maximum points haul of pole, fastest lap and the race – Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase softly delivered that news to his driver after the race.

Despite those in charge at Red Bull Racing having thrown the team into turmoil over the last few weeks, a second one-two in eight days underlined the fact it has had no effect on their performance. Professional, precise and poised, Red Bull continue to look unstoppable on the track, though off-track serious questions remain.

For Verstappen and the rest of the field, there are two weeks to wait until the third round in Melbourne. But perhaps the one who will be happiest about this will be Verstappen himself: For now he has more time for iRacing.

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Podium, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024
Verstappen scored his second Saudi Arabian Grand Prix win

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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85 comments on “Virtually unbeatable Verstappen puts simracing aside to collect Jeddah win”

  1. Verstappen has now won 19 of the last 20 races.

    Had it not been for that Singapore weekend he wouldn’t have just beaten the old record of consecutive wins, he’d have straight up doubled it. It’s very disheartening to see the world F1 fail so badly. Both the teams and the regulators.

    These people are all so smug about Andretti, but what have they got to show for their hundreds of millions wasted on poor designs that are not even close to competitive? What are they even doing? Three years into these new regulations and they’re still nowhere close. Three years! That’s a long time.

    1. Also, we could have the sport governing body introduce some rules about teammates to have at least a bit of competition in years like this one.

      Having a world champion that doesn’t need a good night sleep before the race to win win it can’t be good for the sport.

      1. You want to kick out the #2 in WDC out of F1 because 9 teams don’t have their car in order?
        That’s downright laughable.

        And it completely fails to acknowledge the unique talent and extreme dedication certain athlete bring up for their sports.

        Chess is a very good example of what talent does to a sport, and how every generation of athletes there is one that happens to be significantly better than his competitors.

      2. I’m sure this is a facetious point but what rule could you possibly put in?

        Could Bearman come in to take Sainz seat given it’s a rookie replacing a GP winner going against a multiple winner and pole sitter?

        Raikkonen versus Alonso and Vettel shows you can’t even use WDC status. Would Schumi be allowed to come back and race Rosberg? Hamilton surely wouldn’t be permitted to going the reigning double WDC in 2007.

        On a more serious note, Ricciardo versus Norris was much more one sided than anyone expected. Let’s not forget only last year Max and Check shared the first 4 races and after 5 rounds the gap was only 14 points.

        Putting a rule in between team-mates is obviously impossible to define and the punish.

        1. @rbalonso The rule that would help a lot, especially in dominating teams is:

          If a driver looses 150 or more points to his teammate over 2 seasons, he can’t be the active driver for that team

          This way you promote fresh blood and increase competition. Also, this promotes more equal pairings.

          1. Why 150 points difference? Why not 100, or 50, or 200? Any why two seasons and not one or three?
            Adjust your rule for the difference in points awarded and check if it would have gotten Rubens, Massa, Bottas and other contractual #2 drivers of the grid. There is no competition if you are not allowed to win, right?

            And why only for teammates? How about if you are two seasons more then 200 points behind the #2 driver of the winning team, you have not shown potential to be a championship contender, so make place for a new driver?

            Or maybe force the team that end last in the championship to change their lowest scoring driver? This is fun. I can come up with many silly rule proposals to improve “chances for young, new, drivers”.

            You don’t like Perez so come up with a rule that would have banned him. Just be honest about it.

          2. The only way to make that happen would be for F1 to be obliged to throw out a champion winning by too much @micio. Either way, the only thing it would change would probably be that we would see Verstappen have develop “sudden tyre/brake/engine issues” that magically disappear after he lets his teammate by to overtake him to ensure they do not hit that points threshold in written into the rules.

            It would be a huge farce.

          3. @gmp No need to be outraged. I will reply to your comment by just saying: it’s sport and sport has rules. There are 25 points for winning but we had 10 points for winning not-so-long ago. These are just numbers that are equal for everyone.

            150 points was just an example: it’s 6 wins worth of points, it’s also enough to be relegated in a dominating car by being 2nd in all 24 races behind your teammate. Rosberg would not be relegated after 2015 but Perez would which sounds fair. Still, it can be changed.

            Finally, it’s far better to have explicit performance-based rules about team mates instead of what we have right now which is politics/money/personal affiliations.

            @bascb It’s a fair point and one I thought about. It would be team order like any other however the difference is that to really keep a driver like Perez in place, Max would need to “loose” multiple races to him last year to keep him. It woud be a huge farce but the probability of it happening is close to 0%.

          4. If it’s within 150 points within the last 2 seasons Perez would still be in as he was 149 behind in 2022.

            If it’s over 2 seasons, we’d lose Massa and Raikkonen from Ferrari in the 2010s but Massa would be out after 2007 given he was behind Kimi and Michael. He lost the 2008 championship by one point.

            Rosberg survives for 2016 but Webber would be out after 2011 and was leading the championship at the mid point in 2012.

            DC, Irvine and Barrichello all fall foul too. Berger out after 91 also.

            So there’s a lot of great drivers moving out with what end goal exactly? Surely what we’ve learned from Red Bull is that Albon should have stayed for 2021. But that would be an example of a young driver coming through internally, like Massa, who would be evicted to allow young drivers to progress? You’d just end up with a revolving door of number 2 drivers and punish really dominant cars. It’s at best a short sighted solution, at worst it’s ingraining the problem it’s designed to fix.

          5. @rbalonso

            Perez lost 205,5 in 2021 and 149 in 2022 which means he lost 354,5 points in total over 2 seasons with Max. 354,5 is more than 150 so he is out for 2023.

            Massa lost 16 points to Kimi in 2007 and gained 23 in 2008 so he had more points over 2 seasons than Kimi, he would definitely not be out in 2009.

            Webber lost 16 points to Vettel in 2010 and lost 134 in 2011 which means 150 over 2 seasons and he should sit out 2012, indeed.

            I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Again, I prefer clear rules more than hidden individual decisions (e.g. Stroll, Perez).

          6. My point on Perez is that he was only out if you apply it over 2 seasons. If that’s your proposal fair enough but I think 150 points over 2 seasons is only 3 wins over 24 races. Ie you could be second by one tenth 9 times and be out, even if you matched your teammate in all other rounds. So you could win 7 races, be second 16 times and still be out. That’s too tight for me.

            Massa was 40 points behind Schumi in 2006, so although it’s not the same teammate he’s still not satisfied the criteria of points relative to the 1st driver.

            For the theoretical example above and the 2 championship challenging examples of Webber and Massa, I think 150 points is way too tight. The other fundamental is that you can’t tell teams who to employ so you’d effectively be revoking their super licence, which is clearly a non starter.

          7. My point on Perez is that he was only out if you apply it over 2 seasons.

            Yes, the idea is just this. Last two consecutive seasons, and they need to be with the same teammate. Nothing else. Moreover, I think this be reset after one season out, so the team could definitely bring back the same driver again (but I doubt anybody would :D).

            he’s still not satisfied the criteria of points relative to the 1st driver.

            Again, against the same teammate only. This is just a framework that need to encourage teams to stir up unequal pairings. If a pairing has a huge performance gap over 2 seasons, it’s everyones best interest to bring someone new in.

            you can’t tell teams who to employ

            I don’t want to do that. They have a contract with a driver according to the F1 rules so if a driver has 5-year contract to drive the F1 car and they can’t compete after 2 seasons with the same teammate, they need to sit out a season, but they are still emplyed. They can do simulator work or be loaned to a different team.

            This is a sporting rule about driver requirements, just like superlicense points. F1 can definitely do that.

            @rbalonso I hope that’s clearer now. 150 might be too tight, but this is a number we can tweak (Perez was 300 points down in a single season so I think any number would cut him out TBH). Thank you for discussing it with me, it’s very refreshing!

      3. Spec humans and/or drivers. Definitely the way to roll.

      4. Max explained it that he was still on Greenwhich time so staying up late and awake late. I hope this make sense for you?

      5. What an absurd idea. Having the FIA make rules about teams drivers is about as awful an idea I have ever heard. I know this is coming up because Max and red bull are clearly in a league of their own( and checco is not doing a Rosberg) and you and many others think another Hamilton v Rosberg shindig would do the sport some good. I agree, but not by rules dictated from the governing body. Happenstance, chance , luck yes, absolute with rules no.

        1. I prefer explicit rules about who gets to compete in the sport I am following. It’s far better than politics/money and persoanl affiliation.

          1. Don’t understand what the fuzz is about. In all sports from time to time someone comes along who just masters it and displays dominance (I’d suggest we appreciate the achievements). That’s the whole idea of a sport. Would be silly to move the goalposts for that. The Liberty generation audience is however apparently more interested in scripted entertainment that renews itself frequently in order to keep the attention, I guess.

          2. I don’t think Stroll or Perez displays any mastery. Why are they still in the sport? Show me a sport where someone is part of the world champion team and lacks performance for 3 straight years?

    2. Not much different from 2014-2016. 2014 Mercedes had to turn down their cars to not appear too dominant. The only real difference is Hamilton and Rosberg were both competetive.

      1. The car domination of Mercedes of those years was much (!) bigger than Red Bulls domination of the last few years. The Mercedes was able to lap more than a second faster (sometimes even two seconds) in the opening stages of a Grand Prix, and when they had a big enough gap they would tune down their engine and settle until the end of the race.

        1. yet, the races were not so bad as these two were.
          2014 Bahrein Grand Prix was the most superiority Mercedes had shown on all those seasons and was also one of the most entertaining races of the past decade.

          Now Max wins everything, and NOTHING happens behind him. Qualys are somewhat competitive, but the races are a nightmare to watch. This last one was completely uneventful.

          Of all major motorsports, F1 is putting the worst events by a landslide.

          1. Other significant differences between Mercedes’ dominance and now is their opponents were never actively held back from developing to catch them, Red Bull’s are.
            The budget cap was introduced with good intentions to make ‘closer racing’ and while you could say statistically speaking it is closer, it’s actually not and instead broadly locks people into position that few to no options to get out of, made worse when you have to budget for so many races. It doesn’t help one team broke the budget cap and now have a much greater advantage concreted in that can’t be overridden and, if anything, is snowballing to be a bigger and bigger advantage.

        2. I agree but I think RB is turning down there PU’s much earlier on. I think RB has good enough data to calculate just enough percentage of power needed to be winning during qualifying, and turns it on very sparely when really needed.
          MB during their heyday was more obvious, plus MB had a much better paring of drivers who were both able to push each other to create bigger separation from the following teams, where on RB, Max is pretty much on his own, Perez can’t really match or stay with him.

      2. Indeed, this bad trend towards longer and longer periods of domination should have been nipped in the bud much earlier.

        It’s a natural consequence of narrowing the scope for development ever further. You get a close field because the cars are mostly the same, but a nearly impossible to change pecking order.

        1. its not happening.

          the people in charge are too short sighted and petulant to let the narrative write itself.

          They have to control everything. Its in their nature.

        2. You can’t really for a number of very good reasons (long list). They do and have done it sparingly, but they really have to let it play out first before anything can be manipulated (but it’s been done).
          This is suppose to be a sporting event with ethics regarding a competitive platform that has been placed to race on; you just can’t arbitrarily use a moving scale of rules based on winners success and manipulate the rules to satisfy how viewers feel about the racing.

      3. 2014, 2015 and the first 2 races of 2016 (ie start of hybrid era):
        40 races, 34 wins for Mercedes (85%), 21 wins for Hamilton (53%).

        2022, 2023 and first 2 races of 2024:
        46 races, 40 wins for Red Bull (87%), 36 wins for Verstappen (78%).

        The dominance of one driver is far larger now than it ever was when Mercedes was the dominant car. It’s part of the sport that one car can have dominant periods, that’s just how it is. But over the years of Hamilton’s championship dominance he won around half the races.

        1. Yes, but what that shows is that the current period of dominance is largely down to a supremely fast and consistent driver, rather than superior machinery. If you look at the performance of both Red Bulls together – rather than ignoring Perez or writing him off as a Badoer-level joke – they’re roughly on the level of Mercedes in 2017-18; the fastest car under most conditions, but by smallish margins.

          In most cases Red Bull is around 0.5 seconds per lap ahead of the opposition in race trim, which is less than half of the advantage Mercedes enjoyed in the early part of the hybrid era. And yet they still dropped the ball seriously enough, on occasion, to lose races.

          The difference with Red Bull, and Verstappen in particular, is that they don’t seem to drop the ball. Which is frustrating for those who would prefer to see more competition for wins (i.e. most people), but we should probably appreciate the once-in-a-generation talent on display here.

          1. No, they’re not anywhere near the 2017-2018 level, where ferrari was basically as fast as merc! They’re a big step above that, more like merc 2014-2016 than those years.

          2. Really Esporatore? Then why did Leclerc set the fastest time of qualifying in Bahrain? And got second, ahead of the second Red Bull, in Jeddah?

            And on race pace, Sainz was able to keep it close enough to Perez too, while Leclerc didn’t drop that far back from the Red Bulls this time either, despite having losing most time clearing Hamilton and Norris?

    3. I think that domination of some description is unfortunately par for the course in a constructor series as one team will generally find a loophole or just do a better job.

      The current philosophy of tightening up the rules and limit areas for development (eg engine freeze) to try and close the field up artificially that way isn’t really working. For what’s it worth, my view is that you would be better going the other direction in opening it up so at least the key areas for performance are broader (engine, tyres, software etc) and not limited to aero where there is a very limited number of people who can deliver performance gains.

      If close racing is what we need then we probably just need to either accept a spec series or tangible performance penalties (eg weights) but I know that this is probably not what we really want.

      1. Close racing isn’t in short supply, anywhere. I can find top-level close racing monthly at TVKC in Lincolnshire every month. People say they want close racing, but time and time again we see championships with ‘close-racing’ often go hand in hand with low-stakes racing, and relatively low viewing figures. This is often because wins are devalued, and with regard to spec you remove a dominant car with the same car winning every single race in perpetuity.

        While I understand people worrying about Max’s dominance, it’ll own serve to add value to anyone who can finally match him. 2021 was the greatest season for a long time and we only had two drivers fighting for wins. Just two, not 5, not 10, just two. 2021 was great because it was partnered with years of Lewis’s dominance, albeit not quite as dominant as Max.

        What’s going on right now is we are witnessing what is probably the best driver we’ve seen with the best design team we’ve seen. Excellence is supposed to be in the DNA of F1. And this only serves to create value for the time when Max is challenged.

        1. While I understand people worrying about Max’s dominance, it’ll own serve to add value to anyone who can finally match him. 2021 was the greatest season for a long time and we only had two drivers fighting for wins. Just two, not 5, not 10, just two. 2021 was great because it was partnered with years of Lewis’s dominance, albeit not quite as dominant as Max.

          To each his own, but that’s not needed at all. There have been many great seasons that did not follow a prolonged period of domination, also because those are a relatively modern phenomenon. What those seasons do have in common is that it’s a close battle. And that doesn’t even have to be close racing. Just a bit of ebb and flow in the season where race gives, or at least holds the promise of, new opportunities.

          The way F1 is doing these past 10-15 years, it’s more likely that the next champion will also dominate – rather than have a tight battle with Verstappen. And that’s despite the promise by Brawn and Liberty that the 2022 rules would see former midfield teams challenge for wins. Hah! We can’t even have the 2nd placed team in the championship do anything but follow nearly a whole pitstop worth of time behind a guy like Pérez.

          This isn’t working.

        2. Absolutely disagree, it’s not the many years of domination that add value to following season, it’s just the competition that does, you could get 3 seasons like 2021 in a row and it’d be great.

          1. 2021 had either Max winning his first ever world title, or Lewis becoming indisputably the greatest F1 driver of all time. That hyper-compelling narrative can only happen once.

        3. 2021 was the greatest season for a long time and we only had two drivers fighting for wins.

          That’s a great point to show how uncompetitive and predictable F1 has become.
          F1 is still basking in the glow of 2021’s ‘wow’ factor – but hasn’t come anywhere remotely near to it since, and isn’t likely to in the near future.

      2. For what’s it worth, my view is that you would be better going the other direction in opening it up so at least the key areas for performance are broader (engine, tyres, software etc) and not limited to aero where there is a very limited number of people who can deliver performance gains.

        Indeed, and the cost cap was a perfect opportunity to reintroduce some freedom. This would of course need to be monitored to prevent excessive outcomes, but they’re now having both less freedom and less spending… and we get longer and longer domination. Who is surprised?!

        Sportscars has tried to cut costs and limit performance while leaving more freedom with hard performance caps and a BoP; but a strict cost cap is probably more exciting because it doesn’t put those hard limits on the engineers. And although not without complications, it’d probably be less controversial too.

    4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th March 2024, 14:55

      Verstappen has now won 19 of the last 20 races.

      He hasn’t really won them. He was P1 without any opposition, there’s a difference between winning a race which assumes some level of competition and simply showing up and driving around the circuit with a bit of traffic at the start.

      I view his races as playing soccer matches and Verstappen taking penalties without a goalie for 90 minutes. And Verstappen scores his 126th goal with no end in sight. Can he score 127? Is it possible? It’s never been done except by Max in the previous 40 matches! He sure can! 128? Yep! The Ballon D’Or surely is his! He’s unstoppable!

      The sad part is that this is only the beginning. 20 races in a row is nothing compared to what the fans will be subjected to.

      Wins have absolutely zero meaning.

      1. Wins have absolutely zero meaning.

        They certainly have less meaning than wins in years more resembling proper F1. The spec tyres, the frozen engines, the banned testing, the DRS, all these shenanigans devalue the achievement.

        But the game is what it is, and it’s up to the other teams to decide if they want to clown around in DTS episodes or be competitors on race day. This whole ‘we’re confident we’ve taken a step forward’ silliness that half the grid has been repeating for years and years is really wearing thin.

      2. I might want to point out it was the same for hamilton when he had bottas as a team mate and a dominant car, so I agree it sucks, but I didn’t see you say that back then.

        1. Probably because “back then” wasn’t the situation you imagine or want to believe it was. Bottas was given equal chance to win and frequently challenged, as did Ferrari and Red Bull. Difference was that when the chips were down Hamilton could deliver over the long run while the others fell apart.

    5. Too generous. Mercedes and Ferrari are losing ground even with fresh designs.

      As for the Mercedes era was worse stuff. Just remember that Ricciardo the last person to challenge Verstappen for points and wins. It’s absurd to say that the Mercedes era was just as boring. Mercedes had two different drivers win a title!

      But let’s applaud Verstappen and Newey. They are the 90s USA Olympic Basketball of F1. Pros among boys. Newey’s body of work across so many series for so long will never be bettered.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        10th March 2024, 15:28


        Just remember that Ricciardo the last person to challenge Verstappen for points and wins.

        That didn’t age well. I do wonder how many wins Tsunoda would have had if he were a Red Bull driver. I guess at least 56… Ironically, it’s really impossible to contradict given the past race.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        10th March 2024, 15:33

        But let’s applaud Verstappen and Newey.

        I think Newey deserves more of that praise especially since I have never trusted Red Bull to be impartial to both drivers and definitely don’t after last month’s events which have shown Red Bull to be a Game of Thrones living set.
        There are just too many weird occurrences that persist over so many seasons that they are simply statistically impossible. Do you remember Webber’s starts?

        1. Just remember that Max was able to win a few races per year when RBR were 2nd best, and often 3rd best on the grid. Now that he has a car arguably less dominant than the Merc from 2014 onwards, and is preventing anyone else from another team winning a race just puts his talent and consistency into perspective.
          To put it all on Newey is just childish or smacking of sour grapes.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            10th March 2024, 23:48

            Actually, that’s baloney. Max has never won a single race where his car wasn’t faster than a Mercedes. The handling superiority of the Red Bull has never been in question. The Mercedes’ has trailed Red Bull, Ferrari, and McLaren in that area even during the dominant era. It was the engine that usually helped Mercedes win.

          2. Really? What about the 2016 Spanish GP? 2019 Austrian GP? 2021 French GP? 2021 COTA?
            That’s just a few off the top of my head and I’m sure there are more.
            My point is that Max was consistently there to take wins when other drivers messed up and now he at last has a dominant car for the last year and a half, his consistency is preventing anyone else from getting near a win.

    6. Times where f1 teams could develop and try out new stuff every race are far gone. The pinacle of motorsport has now mostnfeatures seen in endurance racing, and locked in budgets, frozen development on main parts of the car like aero, engine, electronics etc. Even tools like windtunnels are limited. So its not strange nobody can catch up. There is no posibility to do so left.

  2. My prediction is that Laurence Stroll will (attempt to) take advantage of the organisational chaos at Red Bull, and hire Adrian Newey for Aston Martin. Stroll will pay whatever it takes: 2x salary, 4x salary. Stroll’s dream and goal is a WDC for Lance. The only way that conceivably happens is if Lance is in a dominant car that is untouchable. A Lotus 79, a McLaren MP4/4, a Williams FW14, a Mercedes W05, any number of Red Bulls. It just won’t happen otherwise, and Adrian Newey is Laurence Stroll’s only hope. If Horner is forced out I believe Newey will be open to offers. And having the Aston Martin factory on Dadford Road is a huge plus.

    1. Newey’s potential move to Aston Martin is sth that I have also contemplated. With such a huge rotation of engineers and other staff between teams in F1, a guy like Newey could go to any team and feel at home right away having a bunch of old colleagues he has already worked with.

      The idea of Stroll winning the WDC is trully disgusting…

      1. He still has to beat the team mate, doesn’t he? Unless they replace the team mate mid season with reason “overperforming”.

    2. When Red Bull poached Newey from McLaren (or was it Williams, I’ve lost track), it wasnt just oney that tempted him. Ay McLaren he was “just” the designer, whereas Red Bull made hi a much higher profile person in the organisation, which I think was soething Newey was seeking. Red Bull have also been ore flexible with NEwey than other teams would be. For example, wasn’t he spending soe of his time doing speedboat design? Newey is already at the point where he’ll have enough money to set him up for the rest of his life, so I think Stroll would have to find something more than just money to tempt Newey away from Red Bull.

    3. Lance ain’t winning anything if he just drives Neweys car into a wall.

  3. Max and Norris are the closest we have today to the racing drivers of old that would drive in different series (and non-series events) during a season. Of course, that is no longer allowed for real events, but they can now do it online.

    I think that this is a great boon to especially Max, where despite the dominance he has right now, he keeps experiencing close racing online. This preserves his wheel-to-wheel skills and also means that racing is less boring for him.

    1. Alonso has competed in Indy500, 24LeMans AND Rally Dakar and you’re naming Max and Norris? Come on.

      1. True, I forgot about that. I think that he is the only driver that is allowed to do that, however.

    2. Back in the real world, don’t forget Hülkenberg who won Le Mans (and finished the Spa 6 hours), in the middle of an F1 season, up against tougher opposition than Alonso ever faced. It is 9 – NINE, can’t believe that – years ago, mind.

    3. I’ll believe he preserved those “skills” when he ends up in a situation where he doesn’t have an overwhelming advantage.

  4. Agree, Alonso is the goat IMHO, the way he relentlessly draggs performance out of anything he drives is truly amazing and still doing it at 42!

    1. Alonso is very impressive, and an extraordinary talent to be sure. He is also a big of a hypeman for himself, which is amusing, but not necessarily the whole truth. If you were to take Alonso’s word for everything, it’s a small wonder half his cars even made it out of scrutineering. It’s not like that of course.

      And his list of recent teammates also isn’t exactly amazing; Stroll, Ocon, and Vandoorne? It’s very midfieldy. And his teammates in the WEC were Buemi and Nakajima, both solid drivers to be sure, but again, not exactly generational talents. It’s great that Alonso is still keeping up the fight. But it’s also not a huge surprise he hasn’t been picked up by any of the better teams since his departure from Ferrari.

      1. hes too old for their branding strategies.

        when you look at a team like Mercedes, and see them as confused and unable to win, thats not correct.

        Hamilton’s teammate can, on more than a few occasions qualify close to the front row. But Hamilton, he cannot, because Mercedes have been building a car around Russell for the last 2+ years.

        Also, Mercedes is not complaining about Red Bull’s clear Power Unit advantage, an advantage that will not allow Mercedes to win seriously till the formula change in 2026.

        This isn’t about winning, its about branding, creating brand-icons, and political correctness. The sucky thing is they are letting Max easily eclipse Hamilton’s records in the next few years.

        Mercedes do not care that they are not winning, they don’t want to win, this is about branding, for F1, and for each of the ‘partners’ on the grid. This is what cartels do, in order to keep their monetary inflows and outflows correctly adjusted.

        its too predictable who will win, and those who should be aggrieved by clear manipulation of the rules to suite certain competitors say nothing, because its about money, not about sport.

        1. Hamilton was one of the few to get pole last year!

        2. What power unit advantage does redbull have?
          Care to elaborate with proof?

          1. Smae power but much smaller and beter cooling also much smaller……

  5. We used to see headlines like this when lewis was dominating, and to the outsider it seems like Max is beating everyone. But his only reference point is Perez. I don’t quite understand why Max says he is enjoying the dominance. Surely a championship closely fought is more satisfying.

    1. I doubt 2021 was a pleasant experience for Max, or indeed any of the other protagonists. He probably also feels he has ‘earned’ his dominant run to some extent, after years of only being able to pick up whatever scraps Mercedes left on the plate.

      1. And surely it is fun to drive such a good car.

    2. I don’t quite understand why Max says he is enjoying the dominance.

      Athletes are very self-centered. Not in a bad way! They tend to have a great talent for focusing on themselves, and maximizing their own performance, rather than getting stuck on fretting about what the rest is doing.

      When Verstappen wins, he probably experiences it as confirmation that he’s doing the right thing – and, well, he is. That’s a great feeling; to constantly get the acknowledgement from both yourself and from the results that you’re on the right path.

      It’s far more frustrating to go through all the same motions and then come up short every time. That just creates a loop of self-doubt or lack of confidence in the car, the team, etc. That’s especially hard one people who have won in the past.

    3. From what I remember, verstappen and hamilton liked the challenge in 2021.

      1. Yes. But that doesn’t fit someone story.

        1. Vestappen does seem to keep changing his tune. Last year we had one week where he said he wanted a challenge, the next where he wanted to dominate without a challenge.

  6. Derek Edwards
    10th March 2024, 20:05

    Stroll misjudged his entry to the fast left hander of turn 22, like so many have before him…

    Including himself the previous day.

    1. Even though he lets his driving on track do the talking, sometimes people don’t hear, so he has to repeat things:)

  7. I have to disagree with he F1 is boring chatter. Yes, RB’s are dominant, especially in the hands of Max. but further back there was a lot of action and lap after lap of overtaking attempts and successes. There is way more to F1 than just who wins the race.

    1. I agree. The field is much closer than the 2014-2021 period. You just have to disregard Max. The rest of the field is in a serious battle with little between them. The season will be great. The whining is mostly originating from not the preferred guy winning at the front. It is ok to not cheer for him, but to distort the whole story and throw away the season already seems a bit excessive.

  8. Public service announcement: just today started a racing series where (almost) everyone can win, the cars are very colorful, the rules allow cars that are off track to be restarted by the rescue team and continue to participate. And the rule book writers do everything to ensure that creates competition, even having a team owner that also owns the most important race track in the series.

    Instead of spending energy on telling people who enjoy F1 as it is today (and there are many), why not watch that series and contribute with enthusiastic positive posts to their forums? Or in the dedicated articles here on racefans? Already commented how Newgarden won? How Palou is not fully up to speed yet? And how is Grosjean doing?

    1. There are many who enjoy f1 today? Is 20% of the people who watch considered many? Cause that’s the amount giving passing grades to races.

    2. I’m gonna answer by myself: 20% isn’t many and I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to get into watching f1 lately.

    3. Yeah, and you have the same car base (DW12) for 12 years, and ultimately the race was dominated by Newgarden from lap 1. Sure, the gaps were small because of a few SC…

  9. Riccardo’s hype train is leaving the station …

    1. That train sailed long ago, that ship left the station.
      Ricciardo has always been a very mediocre driver. He had one great season in a car that suited him. He had a couple more decent ones as he was being outclassed.
      Other than that, I have no idea why anyone rates him highly enough to put him in a car.

      1. He had one great season in a car that suited him

        Some drivers get more than one – some get 2, some get 3, some even get 7…
        Doesn’t mean they are an exceptional driver, though.

        Other than that, I have no idea why anyone rates him highly enough to put him in a car.

        In addition to his proven results, he’s also a media-friendly money-maker. He’s perfect for F1 in that sense.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        11th March 2024, 13:17

        There’s a very easy way to figure out a lot of stuff. Drop Verstappen into the Toro Rosso for a few races and promote Tsunoda to Red Bull. We’ll know how quick Ricciardo is and whether he deserves a Red Bull seat. We’ll know how quick Tsunoda is and whether Checo deserves his seat or can remain as Tsunoda’s wingman. We’ll also see how quick Verstappen really is.

        It really has no impact on the WCC or WDC unless Tsunoda gets to keep Max’s seat in which case just replace the words Max with Yuki and it’s the same. Max will be upset but he will appreciate his seat a lot more after that and will hear the words Mercedes and McLaren and go into anaphylactic shock.

      3. So are you saying Vettel’s a mediocre driver? Riccardo did beat the 4 times world champion in their one and only season together and then beat all his Red Bull team mates.

        1. Well I have to say Vettel is one of the most lucky F1 drivers we have ever seen (Lewis being another). I do not think he was a very good or gifted driver. He undoubtedly was one of the best on a single lap with no traffic around though. But other than that I don’t think he can measure up at all vs other champions. He lucked into a dominant car and a horrible team mate, won only if he started on the front row and had numerous wheel to wheel errors and mistakes. Definitely the odd one in the rankings of the champions. So to outshine him as a team mate still doesn’t say very much about you.

          Lewis shares some of this rare luck streak with Vettel although I rank Hamilton much higher and find him truly a F1 star. His luck parallel with Vettel is in his tally. 7 times WDC is excessive and purely down to Mercedes owning the entire V6 Hybrid era/regulatory streak. Imagine Alonso going to Mercedes back then instead of Hamilton. Alonso would then be at 8-9 WDC titles by now.

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