Max Verstappen clinched Red Bull’s fifth win of season from ninth place at Miami GP; Red Bull has taken four 1-2 finishes in opening five races, so it is surprising to hear that Red Bull themselves are declaring that they are not confident about winning during this 2023 season.
Red Bull continued to dominate F1 2023 at the Miami GP, with Max Verstappen claiming victory from a ninth-placed start to give the team its fourth 1-2 finish in five races.
No other team has stood on the top step of the podium this season, with Verstappen’s Miami win his third this year, while teammate Sergio Perez has two GP wins and the Baku sprint win, Red Bull’s dominance already seems complete.
Why is Red Bull so dominant?
“There’s not one thing, it’s a culmination of everything working together in harmony and unison,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“Of course the RB18 was a great car for us, we’ve taken the learnings out of that and applied them into 19 and I think it’s just all those elements coming together.”
Indeed, this writer himself spoke to Adrian Newey at the Goodwood Revival last year in person, and the great man revealed that the 2022 car was just the first iteration of the ‘greater plan’. So for a first step into the new regulations, the Red Bull chief designer certainly knocked it out of the park and it was no surprise to TJ13 to see this performance gap to the rest of the grid increase in 2023.
Sky Sports pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz confirms that “a car is nothing without an engine and the Honda power unit is probably the best on the grid,” says Kravitz.
This combination of the best engine and indeed the best car design has given the team a quantum leap in performance.
Top speed performance enables the wins
Last year, the chassis engine combination meant that the RB18 was a tough car to beat, but it could lack in top speed. Not so for 2023. Top speed increases have been aided by Red Bull’s chassis changes for 2023.
“Unlike last year’s RB18, the RB19 is a lightweight chassis. The lighter your car is, the faster you will go,” explains Kravitz.
“And the RB19 was born slippery. Unlike the Aston Martin or the Mercedes for example, the Red Bull’s aerodynamic design has very low underlying drag.”
Marko: Red Bull not favourite in Monaco
With the Monaco race not being held in 2020 due to the pandemic, the last non-Red Bull winner in Monaco was Lewis Hamilton 2019, the Milton Keynes team having won with both its drivers in 2021 (Verstappen) and 2022 (Perez) respectively.
Red Bull admits that Monaco will expose the RB19’s Achilles’ heel:
“We can’t play to our racing strengths in Monaco. Whoever drives in front sets the pace,” explains Dr Helmut Marko in an interview with Motorsport-Magazin.com . All the other advantages of the RB19 also play a subordinate role on the narrow street circuit.
“Tyre wear will not be decisive” and “There are no straights where our speed advantage comes into play,”
Marko: Ferrari favourite at Monaco
What’s more, the 3.337-kilometre street circuit in Monaco should suit Ferrari particularly well. Perhaps for the first time in the current Formula 1 season, Red Bull is not the big favourite.
“What we have seen so far, Ferrari is sometimes faster than Red Bull in the slow corners,” says the Austrian. The famous hairpin is negotiated at 50 km/h, seven other corners at less than 100 km/h.
“It will be exciting. Let’s see.”
Red Bull v Ferrari
“But the biggest advantage is the quick tyre warm-up and I think that can be decisive on the qualifying lap,” Marko estimates. Charles Leclerc has already been on pole (twice) in Baku, in his home Monaco in 2021 and 2022, with an auspicious outcome (DNS and fourth). Nevertheless, the SF-23 is within one lap of the RB19.
A special advantage in Monaco, where pole position is half the battle. In the last ten years, the pole setter has won the race on Sunday five times. A victory by qualifying specialist Charles Leclerc was prevented by other circumstances in 2021 and 2022 (broken drive shaft and Ferrari strategy respectively).
Alonso: the secret favourite in the principality
Apart from the Scuderia, however, Red Bull is still threatened by a Spanish 41-year-old.
“Alonso is always good,” says Dr Helmut Marko.
“The handicap of lacking top speed doesn’t matter in Monte Carlo. And if they have a good weekend where they’re immediately up front in qualifying, he’s certainly a candidate.” Aston Martin itself reckons it has the best chance of winning in the Principality. And in an attempt to claim win 33, Fernando Alonso is certainly not unaware of the AMR23’s cornering prowess.