In Formula 1, the investment is important but it does not necessarily lead to victory. If so, Ferrari would not drag a 15-year drought without celebrating a title, in the same way that it would have been impossible for BrawnGP to be crowned in 2009 (Jenson Button), after buying, for one pound sterling, the facilities that Honda had in Brackley (Great Britain) and who now drives Mercedes. Apart from the injection of money, there are other elements to take into account to gauge the potential of a team and refine their expectations before a new championship.
With a week to go before the World Cup starts in Bahrain, all the indicatives that Red Bull projects are scary. Above all, to the competition. During the only three days of pre-season testing that ended yesterday at the Sakhir circuit, the energetic team has made it clear that its RB19 is the fastest car of all, and also the one that is capable of maintaining the highest and most constant pace in the long runs of laps. In that same equation, Max Verstappen’s level of driving not only equals that of the car he drives, but, as became clear in 2022, he even surpasses it.
What Red Bull has done in the last two seasons is extraordinary. Regardless of the controversy that surrounded the resolution of the contest in 2021, that title won by Mercedes probably causes more satisfaction than the one achieved last year. Basically, because the Milton Keynes (Great Britain) structure was able to put an end to the triumphant inertia imposed by the star brand since the introduction of hybrid technology, in 2014. Breaking that trend in the last year of a regulation that in 2022 it moved more than ever, it has tremendous value. That Red Bull was able to win again in the new regulatory framework is already the answer, so everything suggests that this drift will also continue in 2023 with hardly any changes. At least in Bahrain, where Verstappen led the time sheets on Thursday and Checo Pérez on Saturday, that’s the film most workshops make.
“The new car is undoubtedly a step forward compared to the previous one, which was born very conditioned by being overweight, which made it very lazy at the entrance of the curves”, summed up the current champion, who on the last day handed over the wheel to his neighbor of workshop. “Now we have done a continuity exercise, with new things that will arrive soon,” he added. Mad Max, who preferred not to make any ranking on the state of the teams, so as not to risk being left with shame on the air next weekend. “It’s hard to say. I think it is more important to focus on ourselves, and say that we are very happy with the work we are doing”, stressed the Dutchman.
Although Verstappen does not want to do an X-ray of how each team is seven days before the formation of the first starting grid, the stopwatch has done its own in Sakhir. If we place Red Bull in a dimension theoretically unattainable for the rest, the role of main persecutor should be disputed by Ferrari and Mercedes, in a sequel to what was seen in 2022. The structure of the star had a more active passage through Bahrain than he would have liked, and his position is still unknown. Especially after Friday, when a hydraulic problem prevented George Russell from completing the last two hours of activity. Despite this, Lewis Hamilton finished with the second best overall time, less than four tenths behind Pérez. Nor is it easy to define categorically at what point the scuderia, almost more focused on not screwing up than on growing up. Charles Leclerc finished fourth, seven tenths off the lead and 12 thousandths ahead of Carlos Sainz, fifth. Of the rest, most highlight Aston Martin’s leap in quality, which should allow Fernando Alonso to fight to finish in the top six. “Last year, Aston Martin fought with the car most of the time. Now, 95% of the car is new, so we need time”, agreed the Spaniard, tenth, just over a second behind the first.
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