Charles Leclerc has painted a worrying picture for the future of Formula 1 by suggesting Red Bull will be unbeatable until the next regulation changes.
Red Bull are streets ahead of the chasing pack currently with the team having won every race since Mercedes’ victory at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
With that dominance, Leclerc admitted that it may continue long into the future and that the Milton Keynes outfit will not be reeled in until 2026 at the earliest.
Charles Leclerc makes Red Bull claim but others disagree
Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com ahead of the race in Zandvoort, Leclerc admitted that anyone catching Red Bull would be “very, very difficult.”
“That’s what we are trying to work towards,” he said. “But for sure they have a really big margin and it’s going to be very, very difficult to catch them before the next change of regulations.”
That change comes in 2026 when new power unit regulations will be introduced as Audi and Honda join the sport as engine suppliers.
Mercedes’ George Russell, the last non-Red Bull driver to win a race, did not share Leclerc’s view, reflecting that his current team were once the dominant force.
“When you look at the turn of form that Aston Martin had over last winter, the turn of form that McLaren has had,” he told select media including PlanetF1.com. “It definitely gives optimism that it can happen.
“Obviously Red Bull is going to continue to improve, it’s going to be difficult for sure but we saw Red Bull catch Mercedes in the Mercedes era in 2021.
“That was unforeseen as 2020 from Mercedes was a really dominant year [and yet] 2021, Red Bull starts with the quickest car.
“So we’ll be pushing for that but we’re not going to put any huge expectations upon next year. We will take it race by race, making sure we have got all of the right information to make the best decisions possible between now and the Bahrain test next year.”
McLaren’s Oscar Piastri was also more confident the field would not take that long to close the gap.
“How many years is that?” he asked about 2026. “Two more? I would like to hope we catch them in that time.
“I think it’s going to be difficult. They started the regulation cycle so strong last year and even stronger this year, I would say but I think seeing Aston over the winter break and us from one weekend to the next.
“We have shown that you can make a big turnaround in a short period of time if you go through dedication, hard work and following the right directions.
“Of course, we’re still a bit of a chunk off Red Bull but also with the way the rules are on aero wind tunnel time and stuff like that, it should bring everyone closer.
“I hope we can beat them, maybe a bit more optimistic than Charles but it’s not going to be easy, that part is for sure.”
Sergio Perez, a man who hopes the domination continues until the end of 2024 at least, said the team does not think they are untouchable.
“I think it’s quite early to say,” the Mexican commented. “When you see the sort of jumps like McLaren can do from where they were in the season to where they are now. It only takes another team to make such an improvement.
“So I wouldn’t think that and we are not thinking like that. We are really working hard, we are really trying to improve race by race on all the different areas.”