Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects rivals to take further inspiration from their dominant machinery for F1 2024, which will lead to a tighter grid.
The ground effect era, introduced in 2022, has so far very much been a story of Red Bull success, with consecutive title doubles now within reach.
The chasing pack though has been ever-changing, with McLaren having joined Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin in that battle after reaping the rewards of an extremely effective development programme.
Red Bull expect convergence for F1 2024
With 16 rounds of the F1 2023 campaign gone, Red Bull have collected 15 grand prix wins and every sprint victory, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz the only driver to have interrupted their run of dominance with victory in Singapore.
However, Red Bull team principal Horner is expecting a far greater challenge next season.
“Every week it keeps changing,” Horner told ESPN in regards to the ‘best of the rest’ battle. “One week it’s Ferrari, next week is Mercedes, then McLaren have turned up and Aston Martin were there at the beginning of the year.
“So every time we look over our shoulder, it’s somebody else that’s there and that in many respects has helped us of course, but it’s insanely close.
“And with stability in the rules, there will always be convergence. If you want close racing, just leave the rules alone and you will always find the teams will converge, the cars will converge.
“And so I totally expect next year to be a whole different kettle of fish to this year.”
While it appeared in Singapore that this on-track convergence was starting to take effect, Max Verstappen swiftly put an end to that as he returned to dominant ways at the Japanese Grand Prix, confirming that Singapore was merely a blip.
Where the grid in already converging though is in the sense of challenger design, with teams now gravitating towards the Red Bull concept having seen the RB18 and RB19 lead the way. Mercedes and Ferrari have ditched their unique concepts mid-season to follow the Red Bull route.
And with Horner seeing Red Bull “DNA” across the grid now, he believes that process will only continue into F1 2024.
“Well you can see the DNA of our cars sprinkling around the field now,” he said.
“And of course there will be convergence. You can’t look at a car like what we’ve produced and think that everyone is going to go a different path next year.
“I mean, if you look at the suspension layout on the McLaren, some of the principles on some of the other cars, you see the influences that the RB18 and 19 have had, and one could only imagine that’s only going to converge more in 2024.”
While Aston Martin were the early-season surprise as they surged from the midfield to become the closest threat to Red Bull in the opening rounds, it is McLaren who have rather stolen their thunder with a remarkable mid-season surge.
No longer battling for a way into the top 10, McLaren have transformed their MCL60 into a pole position and podium contender, the team scoring their first double podium of the season last time out in Japan as Lando Norris claimed P2 and Oscar Piastri P3.
And Horner was full of praise for the Woking-based team.
“It’s very impressive, to go from nowhere to suddenly pushing us hard for pole positions, very impressive to have that kind of change,” he said.
“Because there’s no silver bullets in Formula 1. And so to introduce an upgrade that does that, they obviously made their car come alive and suddenly it started behaving in a way that perhaps it was intended to.”
Verstappen’s victory in Japan secured the 2023 Constructors’ title for Red Bull, while Verstappen is a remarkable 177 points clear of team-mate Sergio Perez at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.