Christian Horner has claimed Red Bull could have been even more dominant in the F1 2023 season, estimating Max Verstappen could have won some races by a greater margin.
Red Bull enjoyed the most dominant campaign in F1 history in 2023, winning all but one of the 22 races with Max Verstappen claiming 19 victories en route to a third successive World Championship.
Verstappen clinched the title in Qatar with six grands prix still remaining, ultimately finishing with more than double the points tally of team-mate Sergio Perez – winner in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan – as Red Bull secured a one-two finish in the Drivers’ standings for the first time in their history.
Christian Horner expects F1 field to close up after 2023 dominance
Horner pointed to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix as just one example where Verstappen, who finished 38.6 seconds ahead of third-placed Fernando Alonso, could have won with a bigger advantage over the opposition.
And he admitted the team ended development of the record-breaking RB19 car halfway through the year as Red Bull’s research-and-development restrictions – imposed on the Milton Keynes-based outfit for breaching F1’s cost cap in 2021 – started to bite.
Appearing on Sky F1’s review of the 2023 season, he said: “There’s always an element of managing because the tyres are pretty sensitive, so not overstressing the car [is key] and of course your engines have got to do so many races [with] reliability being a key factor.
“Certainly in the beginning of year, I think in that first race in Bahrain we could have been another 20 seconds up the road if he’d have been pushing.
“But that concertinas at different points in the year and we basically stopped developing the car mid-year, because with the wind tunnel restrictions that we’ve had we had to pick and choose where to deploy our resource.
“You saw in the second half of the year the field ebbing ever closer.”
In an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher, Horner revealed that he expects the chasing pack to close the gap to Red Bull next season.
He explained: “We’ve got stable regulations.
“And so, of course, you start to hit the top of the curve where the gains that you’re making become smaller and smaller. I think that it’s evolution, not revolution.
“We’re into diminishing returns now. But there are two more years of these regulations.
“It’s inevitable that the grid will concertina.”