Red Bull have a 100% winning record in 2023 so far, and while Canada showed the gap had come down between the team and their rivals, the RB19 is still a force to be reckoned with on track.
Max Verstappen in particular has made the most of what is underneath him, winning each of the last four races in comfortable fashion and, along with the victories for Sergio Perez earlier in the year, bringing Red Bull to eight wins from eight in 2023 to date.
That has led to some already looking to whether or not Red Bull can go the full season unbeaten – which would be a Formula 1 first – but their rivals are fiercely developing to try and hunt down the dominant RB19.
What has been the seemingly scariest thing about Red Bull so far from their competitors’ perspective is their seeming lack of fallibility during race conditions.
Rarely if ever is there a slow pit stop or poor strategy call to throw into the mix, even though the pace within the RB19 is that strong from the outset.
Given how dominant Red Bull are, we put out a tweet recently asking you who you think could be the one to break the winning streak, and to put it mildly, we received quite the response.
Upwards of 1,000 comments, more than 4,500 likes and over 800,000 impressions later, with responses ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, we thought we would have a go at ranking who might be most likely to end the Red Bull monopoly on the top step of the podium this season.
Who will be the first to end Red Bull's winning streak this season?
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) June 23, 2023
That’s assuming it even happens at all. At this point, it does feel like as much of an ‘if’ as a ‘when’.
In any case, here is our top five based on how things stand competitively at the moment:
5: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
Given how the two Ferrari drivers have performed over the past few races comparatively, there is a fair argument that says Carlos Sainz should probably appear above Charles Leclerc in our predictions to get a race victory next.
He out-qualified Leclerc in both Spain and Canada (even with a needless grid penalty for impeding), with an excellent effort to get onto the front row at home in particular.
But given the way he was instructed to hold station behind Leclerc in Montreal with both Ferrari drivers looking to recover, if the same were to occur for a race win, it’s difficult to see Ferrari telling Leclerc to hold station in the same situation.
We could easily be proven wrong, especially if a win is on the line – as McLaren proved in Monza in 2021 with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the better-performing Lando Norris (in terms of season average to that point).
Sainz has come in for some criticism so far this year, but he has driven well and probably deserves to be ahead of his team-mate in the Drivers’ standings on balance, given his consistency.
But when it comes to that final tenth in qualifying or in a race, Leclerc still seems to have the edge more often than not.
4: Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
In truth, Leclerc could lay claim to a higher place on this list if he could have avoided the run of form in which he currently finds himself – and as previously mentioned, his team-mate could easily be above him in this list for now.
Helmut Marko was worried by Ferrari most of all when Red Bull suffered an off-weekend in Canada, but qualifying strategy worked against him by not moving onto dry tyres quickly enough and it cost him big time.
While Ferrari deserve credit for how they went about their race strategy last weekend, and how the SF-23 has clearly had improvements attached to it, it feels clear in the short term that Mercedes and Aston Martin currently have things more ‘put together’ in terms of challenging over a full race weekend.
3: George Russell (Mercedes)
After a flying start in the qualifying head-to-head with his team-mate, George Russell has been beaten on four of the last five Saturdays by Lewis Hamilton as the season heats up at Mercedes.
A rare Q2 exit in Spain did not help matters on a weekend in which his team took a big step forward in terms of competitiveness, but his drive to the podium showed he is more than capable of fighting on Sundays to make up for it.
Given how much of his early reputation in Formula 1 was garnered on being nicknamed ‘Mr Saturday’, Russell most likely needs to recover a little bit of mojo over one lap – even though, granted, he is going up against statistically the most successful qualifier ever in the same car – to put himself in the hunt from the start if Mercedes are going to turn their potential into a real fight with Red Bull soon.
2: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Choosing between the top two here was oh-so close, almost a coin flip decision, such is how tightly matched both driver and team are in current form.
But Hamilton is just about nudged from top spot for now given that Mercedes’ upgrades are still in their infancy on the car, and he has another formidable multiple World Champion to fight to get to the Red Bulls as well.
We’ll take a second to appreciate just how much Hamilton is enjoying the fight himself, with the three multiple World Champions making it onto the podium for the second time this season in Canada and one of Formula 1’s great minds in Adrian Newey.
But aside from that, having a more competitive package underneath him in recent races appears to have revitalised Hamilton, who has nudged ahead of Russell in terms of outright performance when things looked relatively equal for a while within Mercedes.
This is a driver looking back at his best again and, when Red Bull are back in sight, he will be there to take the fight to them.
1: Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)
But at the front of the queue, as he has been all season long so far, Fernando Alonso was the most popular public response to our tweet of who is the most likely driver to break Red Bull’s dominant streak, and we’ll agree with wider opinion here.
The significant upgrades brought by Aston Martin to Canada appear to have had the desired effect on the AMR23, bringing Alonso back into the hunt at the front after seemingly falling away from contention one race earlier in Spain.
The Spaniard even made the bold claim in Montreal that he would not want to finish off the podium again all season after his result at home, and based on how he has driven so far this year, few would bet against him at least being in the hunt every weekend.
As with Hamilton, being in a more competitive car this season has been able to give fans the opportunity to see how well the very best drivers can perform when they get the chance, now he will be hoping Red Bull will get reeled in further, for competition’s sake if nothing else…