Alain Prost thinks all F1 teams are in ‘crisis’ – even Red Bull

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez after the race for Red Bull. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez cool down after the race finishes. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Alain Prost believes the start to this Formula 1 season has shown that “a crisis is never far away”, even at top teams such as Red Bull.

The four-time Drivers’ Champion explained that the coming races will be “crucial” for the team dynamic at Red Bull, given the apparent difference in demeanour from Sergio Perez in looking to put up more of a fight against Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull drivers have split victories at each of the three races so far this year, Verstappen taking two and one for Perez, but the reigning World Champion opened up a 15-point advantage over his team-mate after a qualifying off from Perez saw him start from the pit lane in Melbourne, despite the Mexican’s recovery into the top five.

With that change in mindset from Perez, Prost predicts that continued competition between the two could create further tension within the Red Bull garage.

“It’s system of favouring a single driver, Max Verstappen, which has worked so well, is showing its first signs of failure,” Prost wrote in his column for French publication L’Équipe.

“Sergio Perez, now settled in the team, is discovering that he can win and is no longer willing to compromise to stay.

“Even if Red Bull’s domination continues, the next few weeks will be crucial for the reigning World Champions. It’s clear that anything can quickly throw a spanner in the works and that, even at the top, a crisis is never far away.”

Regarding the rest of the field, Prost believes there is a “crisis” in play at almost every team on the grid in some way, shape or form at the moment – with Red Bull’s pace at the front providing a big headache for the chasing pack in particular.

He referenced his former team at McLaren in falling further away from the front when its plan has been to go in the opposite direction, while Mercedes are stuck for now with a car concept that is not the correct one to be challenging at the head of the field.

“It’s a weird start to the season,” he wrote. “Wherever you look, you can see that it’s not going well and that, in a way, it’s already a crisis. And a crisis on all levels, whether you are a big or a small [team].

“There are, of course, the factory or historic teams which are suffering, such as McLaren, which is not only not rebuilding but, year after year, is plunging.

“There is Alpine, whose recovery is still slow in coming. There is Mercedes, which persists in its admittedly innovative concept but which obviously does not work.”

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The only exception to the rule for Prost in the current scenario is Aston Martin, whose progress from last season has been clear to see, going from seventh in the Constructors’ standings for the past two years to genuine front-runners in Formula 1.

With the team’s new factory still under construction and further infrastructure changes to come, the four-time World Champion believes the Silverstone-based team have provided the template for others to follow in looking to the future.

“Last year, it decided to draw a line under its 2022 car and agreed to reinvent itself,” Prost explained of Aston’s approach. “First, it changed drivers, without a second thought, from Vettel to Alonso.

“It took the time to understand what it was doing and is now at the top, far from the crisis that the others are going through. A lesson for all the other teams.”