Damon Hill raises Red Bull ‘motivation’ concerns after dominant F1 2024 start

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the lead at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen won the 19th race in 20 in Saudi Arabia.

1996 World Champion Damon Hill says that while Red Bull will “feel great” following their mighty start to F1 2024, it is not a good source of “motivation” for the season and potential battle ahead.

Red Bull were pretty clear publicly in stating their expectation that the F1 grid would converge for 2024 after achieving comfortable back-to-back title doubles, but team and star driver Max Verstappen have very much picked up where they left off, as he chases a fourth World Championship in succession.

Damon Hill asks ‘where’s the motivation’ for Red Bull?

Verstappen has led a pair of Red Bull 1-2 finishes across the line in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to reaffirm the team’s status as F1’s leading force, Red Bull having dropped just the one point so far, that being to Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who claimed the fastest lap bonus point in Saudi Arabia.

However, speaking on the F1 Nation podcast from the experience of Williams’ dominant 1996 campaign, which produced Hill’s sole World title, he said the “motivation” can be tough to find when starting a season so strong.

“It’s nice when you’ve got a 1-2 [finish] to start off your season and your Constructors’ Championship, so the team feel great,” Hill began.

“The funny thing is though that it’s quite difficult to get that striving emotion, because when you come second or you get beaten, you so don’t like it, you want to change that situation. There’s a lot of motivation to change.

“Whereas when you win, you kind of… I know that they will be trying still very hard to find improvements and gains because they’ll have to, but at the same time, where’s the motivation?

“The only motivation is that you’re going to be caught, and if you’re looking over your shoulder and you can’t see anyone that’s going to catch you, then you can almost go on holiday [laughs].”

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Much is made about waiting to see performances across a range of tracks before a firm idea of the pecking order comes to light, though the switch from the Bahrain International Circuit to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit brought about a similar result.

Jeddah features a smoother tarmac and produces less tyre degradation than Bahrain, though it was still a comfortable victory for Verstappen, even if the margin over Perez was 13.6 seconds this time versus 22.5 in Bahrain.

And to the theory that different surfaces can inspire different results, Hill stressed that a car designed to excel across the World Championship calendar will negate such surface changes, a worrying sign for rivals considering how Red Bull has started out in F1 2024.

“A car that is designed for a championship will work on all surfaces,” said Hill. “It’s like one of those cleaning products, cleans all surfaces [laughs]. It doesn’t matter what you throw at it.”

Red Bull’s lead in the very early Constructors’ Championship table already stands at 38 points.

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