Toto Wolff fears Red Bull’s latest upgrade has again handed them an advantage they can “exploit”, and just as it looked as if the chasing pack had begun to make inroads.
Following on from Mercedes B-spec W14, Ferrari’s sidepod revisions, and McLaren’s major overhaul, Red Bull introduced a big upgrade at the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, one that included wider sidepods and new-look letterbox inlets.
That Sunday, Max Verstappen’s winning margin was back up to the 30s he had over the nearest non-Red Bull car at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, while a week later in Belgium he was again more than 30s up on Red Bull’s closest challenger.
‘It seems they have another advantage to exploit’
Racing out to a 125-point lead over his team-mate Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ standings with Red Bull 256 ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’, Red Bull’s latest surge quashed any suggestion of their rivals closing the gap.
With their 12th win on the trot, 13th in total, they’ve not only blitzed Mercedes’ longest consecutive winning streak of 10 by also the all-time record that had been set by McLaren back in 1988 of 11.
And there is, Wolff fears, no stopping them as they were able to make performance gains with their RB19’s upgrades that they can now “exploit”.
“I don’t know whether our dominance was similar or less as I think we had years where we did it in the same way, but at least we had two cars that were fighting each other,” he told the media including PlanetF1.com.
“So that caused a little bit of entertainment for everyone, and that’s not the case at the moment.
“It is what it is and I often say that it’s a meritocracy and it’s up to us to fight back. Did we expect that gap? Certainly not. I think with the last step of the upgrade, it seems they have another advantage that they that were able to exploit.
“But again, it always gets me back to the point of we have just got to dig in and do the best possible job.”
Even more worryingly for Red Bull’s rivals, Helmut Marko told Sky Deutschland after the grand prix that Red Bull “have not yet fully exploited the potential of our upgrade.”
Having secured his eighth grand prix win on the trot in Belgium, Verstappen is one away from equalling Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record for the most successive wins while he’s just five away from his own record for the most wins in a single season.