Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2024

Red Bull will hold advantage for first third of season – Sainz

Formula 1

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Red Bull are unlikely to be beaten on pure pace for at least the first third of the season, Carlos Sainz Jnr predicts.

The Ferrari driver has been the most consistent threat to Red Bull over the opening races, reaching the podium in all three races he has started and winning in Melbourne after Max Verstappen retired with a brake fire. But after finishing third behind the Red Bulls yesterday, 20.8 seconds behind Verstappen, Sainz doubts he will be able to beat them in a straight fight over the coming races.

“I think they are definitely going to have an advantage in the first third of the season until we bring one or two upgrades that makes us fight them more consistently,” said Sainz. “But by that time maybe it’s a bit too late with the advantage that they might have on the championship.”

Sainz, who missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix due to illness, is 22 points behind Verstappen after four of this year’s 24 rounds. He said “we need more Australias” to stand a chance of closing the gap, but admitted “I don’t see Red Bull, as a team, making these mistakes very often.”

“A shame, because also I missed a race, which for both the team and me, it could be costly in the championship. We’re competing in one race less, but at the same time, we’re going to give it our best shot.

“It’s my last year in Ferrari also, so nothing to lose and we will try everything to make it back.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said last weekend he believes Verstappen is unlikely to beaten this year. The Red Bull driver has taken pole position for all four grands prix and only failed to win in Australia.

“Lately, Toto has been really nice, saying a lot of nice things about me!” observed Verstappen, who is believed to have been courted by Mercedes as a potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton.

However he believes Red Bull’s superiority won’t be as great at some circuits as it was last weekend.

“It’s still a very long season. I don’t want to think about the rest of the season too much. I really want to approach it race-by-race.

“I know there will be tracks coming up that might not be so favourable for us, but then, of course, when we do get to tracks where we know that we can be quick, we have to really take advantage of it and score the maximum amount of points as a team, and that’s what we’ll continue to try and do.

“Then, of course, I think we know that we get to tracks where maybe it’s a bit more difficult we have to try and maximise that as well, where maybe other teams can win as well.”

Although Verstappen finished over 20 seconds ahead of Red Bull’s leading rival yesterday, all nine other teams were closer to them over a single lap than they were at the same venue in September.

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

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30 comments on “Red Bull will hold advantage for first third of season – Sainz”

  1. Yellow Baron
    8th April 2024, 9:51

    I can respect his ambition and belief, but it would have to be some insane upgrade.

  2. Coventry Climax
    8th April 2024, 10:19

    We’ll see how this goes. Like Yellow Baron says, it needs to be a major upgrade for Ferrari, but also no upgrades or at least very minor upgrades for Red Bull – or any other team for that matter.

    The other thing this makes me wonder about, is that if teams already know they’ll bring upgrades a couple of races into the season, what’s the mechanism behind them not bringing their upgraded versions right from the start of the season?
    Sure, new insights, but apart from that?

    The obvious answer to that is that the computer simulation they’re all using, does not do the trick to a 100% certainty. That’s nothing new, we’ve heard about calibration issues for windtunnels to mismatches between simulation and reality over and over again. Also nothing new is that effectively, race weekends are used as testing too.
    So what I’m wondering about, is to what degree things have shifted, due to the regulations forbidding most of the testing. What advantage does that ruling actually bring, especially given the cost cap – provided testing is included?

    The disadvantages have been discussed plenty here, with slower teams being hampered to catch up as the general gist, but advantages?

    You’d assume the advantages and disadvantages to at least be in balance, for the testing ban rules to still exist.

    1. Coventry Climax
      8th April 2024, 10:25

      Could it be that it’s just for financial reasons? With the ban on testing, teams are made dependent on computers/IT, opening up the way for sponsorship by the major computer/IT firms? We’ve certainly seen that shift happen.
      But has it improved the cars – or the racing, for that matter?

    2. it’s most likely because upgrades take time to develop, but are sufficiently predictable regarding when they will be available. In other words, they probably never stop the development process, and bring to the races the most up to date car they can. Knowing from previous workflow you shoul be able to predict when the current develpment research should likely conclude with A) results B) implementation in the form of upgraded components on the car. Running the simulations and working on the wind tunnels takes time, that’s it.

    3. greasemonkey
      8th April 2024, 13:32

      Oversimplying a lot, and taking the CFD as just one aspect (but the pattern applies across the board), “finding” an aero upgrade is basically very informed, expert, trial&error…but still trial&error. You are exploring solution space, which in the CFD case, is often bottlenecked by CPU time (hence budget) as well as fabricating parts when a suspected better place in solution space is found.

      1. greasemonkey
        8th April 2024, 13:37

        This pattern applies sideways (other areas), upwards (teams processes themselves, and human civilization for that matter), and even downwards into the CFD itself. CFD, ML, and almost anything with numerical solving amounts to educated trial&error too. Conjugate “Gradient” applies to directions to “search”; Steepest Descent applies to directions to “search”; etc; etc; etc.

      2. greasemonkey
        8th April 2024, 13:41

        A fundamental advantage Newey brings is his intuition on “seeing air”, which gets a lot of better first educated guesses on solution space to explore.

        1. seeing air, what a load of p**h, he didn’t see the air from 2014-20 and needed help to “see the air” from the fia. (or was newey on holiday during the 2014-2020 Seasons) despite saying the 2020 cars would run the 2021 season brought in a massive change to the floor that hurt teams that ran low rake cars (Mercedes, Aston Martin) and helped teams that ran high rake cars (Red bull) and when that wasn’t enough, Michael masi made up his own rules in the last race of the season. Christ, the newey love in is weird. Aldo Costa was responsible for some great cars at Ferrari & Mercedes but he didn’t need everyone telling him how great he was.

    4. Upgrades needs time to build as you notice with Williams. A lot of little upgrades takes time from the carbon machines (large or little) upgrades all uses the same machine.

    5. Coventry Climax
      9th April 2024, 12:22

      Upgrades taking time to develop is not an answer to my first question, nor is it the answer to why the testing ban still exists, even if we have a budget cap.

      Sure, new insights, but apart from that?

      Was beneath my first question.
      If it’s just because of the answers you gave, then cars are constant developments of the same original. While that may be true for most things, on a larger scale, as the idea in engineering usually is to bring over the good and get rid of the bad, it is not -always and completely- true for F1 cars, simply because the regulations change from time to time, and even at times where they remain largely the same, we still see teams reaching the conclusion their original design has the wrong philosophy -despite being computer tested and simulated- and fully ditch that for something else.
      So a team races a car over a season, and somewhere halfway starts building next season’s car, incorporating the goods and ditching the bads, like described. First of all: Who decides on what’s good and what’s bad? The computer and it’s design and simulation software again? At the start of the new season, at the rare testing event even, they already announce upgrades for round three, four or whatever. That’s because between the start of the design and the introduction, new things have been learned: the ‘new insights’ I already mentioned.
      The point is, that therefor the design and simulation software, and before anything has even physically taken time to actually be built, are -apparently- not perfect. The input to change the original design to feature upgrades, come from the old car (and the drivers) they still ran to finish the season with, and from renewed and repeated computer simulation. So if anything takes time, it’s running computer simulations until they are correct. And since those apparently aren’t correct right from the start, they are imperfect.
      So again, now tell me what the point/value/advantage of the no testing rule actually is, ever since we have a budgetcap in place. It’s not about money, as that’s restricted and both simulation and testing are expensive, and it’s not about time, as there’s -arguably- hardly any difference between simulation and testing.

  3. Is anyone watching these races including the drivers? VER and PER just drove off the starting line, twice, and sailed into the sunset, literally. Those cars are not only fast, they don’t destroy the tires. Kudos to Red Bull but they aren’t making a design mistake. And their pit crew did a 2.0 pit stop on top of it all.

    1. @jimfromus – Ofcourse we are watching the races (at least i did) In the begin heavy loaded by fuel the Red Bulls drove away but not so fast that they had a free pitstop.
      But important both cars pitted 5-6 laps earlier then the Ferrari of Carlos. Both drivers were reporting oversteer a lot (means more degrading) but later in the race when fuel was burned away both Red Bull reported the car was improving.
      So seeing the lap times (and degrading) the Ferrari’s were much beter in race pace. They are still behind but if this was a 1 stopper you would see a much closer battle.

  4. As usual it will be track specific. The gap is closer this season with more teams closer to Red Bull so I would expect other teams to win races before season end.

    1. The gap is as close as Verstappen wants it will be…

      1. Are you a disciple?

        1. Haha God, no. It’s just clear that he’s managing his pace heavily, every race; so his ultimate race pace is pretty much masked.

    2. I think you (but also the site authors) are taking the wrong example: suzuka has always been a late year race, while this year it’s suddenly early on, so ofc they’re closer to red bull, let’s see how far they are when the usual date of suzuka comes around.

  5. on flying laps, the gap seems a tad smaller, but on race pace? Max is winning with 20s gaps just like last season.

    and if Perez finally get his stuff together, then they might break the 1000 points barrier this season. There are so many races, is that even possible? lol

    1. Max 44 points per race means you need 23 races to get over 1.000 points, and I think there are 24, but they already lost a massive amount of points in australia, so I’d say very unlikely, if not verstappen surely perez will be beaten a handful of times by others across the season.

    2. Ops, forgot there are a lot of sprints (6 if it’s not changed from last year), that makes it more realistic actually, especially since perez so far has always been 2nd when the car is good.

  6. No one watched max fasted lap. On old tyres… he just obliterated everyone’s time. There’s a LOT more in that car/driver combo me thinks..

    1. You’re right that there’s more in the car. But unfortunately there’s no more in the tires. You should be able to put in qualifiers for the entire race. Chances of mistakes, breakdowns and fatigue will become a factor again.

    2. Hardly, it was about 2 tenths quicker than Hamilton’s time in a damaged Mercedes.

      If they’d pitted him for fresh tyres at the end he would have easily taken fastest lap.

  7. as fast as ferrari is, they are still slower than the honda down the straight. the only way ferrari win are because of DNFs or their tire utilization is on another level and RBR dont try their best.

    its sad, but f1 is only about straight line performance, and the teams who wield political power to affect that. they can make the tires worse like this year, and the straightline performance only makes it worse. they can pretend cars can follow from behind all they want, but it matters not when you have over 50bhp in hand.

    1. Ferrari’s power unit combo is one of the best if not the best. The RBR straight line speed advantage comes thanks to their advanced aero design as they produce more downforce from their car’s underbody (ground effect), which has a very limited drag penalty. Thus, they can use a lower angled back wing (back wings produce more drag than any other parts of a car that produce downforce). Overall, I think it was a very bad decision for other teams to accept to go towards the ground effect direction while RBR has a Newey card in hand (almost like suicide).

      1. sorry. Red Bull were given the nod after the FIA handed Max the trophy in 2021. Its clear the battery upgrade in 2021 did wonders for their power unit, but they continued to build a power advantage up until the engine freeze, and now its too late. Red Bull will win almost every race this year and next unless Red Bull agree to turn down the wick.

        1. The ‘uppers’ in the world of racing, ie the guys with money believe they are the ‘king makers’ of the sport. And HAM blew them off at the ‘gala’, so now you know why George has been #1 at Mercedes since, and he will be very lucky to receive an opportunity to do anything but lose to Max in Ferrari, and lose all his records in short order.

          This is politics, its not racing.

  8. I’d like to be as hopeful that Ferrari could challenge RBR, or rather Max, on pace more regularly with a single upgrade or, even otherwise., later in the season, but I prefer to be realistic.

  9. Red Bull will hold advantage for first third of season – Sainz

    …And the second third, and the final third of the season – Everyone else

    1. Yes, I prefer being realistic and then if by a miracle ferrari becomes really competitive like in australia (verstappen fighting for 1st and perez way behind) better, but I won’t be expecting that.

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