Red Bull boss Christian Horner joked that all 21 remaining rounds are a worry for his team as they look to retain their status as F1 2023’s dominant force.
After a truly dominant display at the season opener in Bahrain, Red Bull had tried to play down the talk that was bubbling up of just how untouchable they look set to be in F1 2023, pointing out that the stop after Bahrain, that being Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Corniche Circuit, was a track that seemingly would suit Ferrari.
Over one lap it perhaps did, Charles Leclerc a tenth adrift of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who claimed pole, but race day in Jeddah was another case of Red Bull being in a class of their own, Perez taking his first win of the season while team-mate Max Verstappen recovered from P15 on the grid to a P2 finish.
Verstappen was forced to start P15 after a driveshaft failure in qualifying saw him eliminated in Q2.
Horner then was rightfully delighted as his drivers made it back-to-back one-two finishes to start the season, hailing Perez’s fifth and latest victory as his best yet.
“A remarkable team performance today after the disappointment of the driveshaft failure yesterday,” Horner told F1TV.
“Max’s recovery from 15th on the grid, Checo’s victory I think was the best victory he’s had in Formula 1, that was one of his strongest drives and he really seems to excel at these types of circuits.
“So 43 points, and the extra point for the fastest lap, was a phenomenal recovery and a great team performance.”
It was after Bahrain that Mercedes’ George Russell predicted that Red Bull will win every race this year, and judging by that race and Saudi Arabia, it is looking hard to argue with that prediction.
Horner though firmly believes that the competition will grow stronger when the upgrades start arriving, Mercedes for example planning to unveil a redesigned W14 in the fairly near future.
Asked if Red Bull are just going to canter off into the distance now, Horner replied: “Well life is never that simple, and I’m sure that upgrades are going to be coming through thick and fast as we progress through the season, so I fully expect there to be competition as we progress through the season.
“But we’ve got a great car, the team have done an amazing job, and it’s important we try and capitalise on that early on, because we know that the development will come with the others later into the year.”
With that in mind, Horner was asked if there are any tracks ahead that are specifically worrying him, to which he jokingly replied: “Well the next 21!”
“But you’ve just got to go one race at a time,” the Red Bull boss added.
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And the next venue that Formula 1 visits is Albert Park, home of the Australian Grand Prix, a track where Red Bull, as Horner points out, have not tasted victory since 2011.
As recently as 2022 it was a scene of frustration for Red Bull as Verstappen was forced to retire while running P2.
Horner hopes then that this time around, Red Bull’s RB19 will remain ultra-competitive so that they can have a happier time in Melbourne.
“In Melbourne, Albert Park is another challenge, it’s a different surface, different characteristics there,” said Horner, “and it’s a race we haven’t won since 2011.
“So it’s going to be exciting to go back, but hopefully, we’ve got a good car this year.”
Verstappen was able to snatch the fastest-lap bonus point in Jeddah to prevent team-mate Perez from taking over as leader of the Drivers’ Championship.
It means then that heading into the Australian GP, Verstappen sits atop the pile with 44 points compared to 43 for Perez as the pair look to ensure that there is a fight for the World Championship in F1 2023.