F1 pundit identifies the key to Red Bull’s success, and it’s not Max Verstappen

Oliver Harden
Red Bull celebrate their 100th grand prix win, Max Verstappen P1, with Helmut Marko and Sergio Perez either side. Canada June 2023

Red Bull celebrate their 100th grand prix win, Max Verstappen P1. Canada June 2023

Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber believes design guru Adrian Newey, not Max Verstappen, is the key to the team’s success in the F1 2023 season.

With the all-conquering RB19 car, Red Bull have won all 10 races so far this season with Verstappen claiming his sixth successive victory at last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Verstappen currently leads Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez by 99 points in the Drivers’ standings and is on course to be crowned World Champion for a third time, at the age of just 25, this year having won 33 of the last 54 races stretching back to his maiden title-winning season in 2021.

Adrian Newey and Max Verstappen a lethal combination

Meanwhile, Red Bull hold a remarkable 208-point lead over Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship with the 2023 season having not yet reached its halfway point.

Webber won nine grands prix in seven full seasons as a Red Bull driver from 2007 until his F1 retirement in 2013, playing a key role in the team’s run of four consecutive Constructors’ titles.

Appearing on ITV’s television coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Webber believes the 2023 title race would be much closer if Newey wasn’t around.

And he views Newey’s technical genius and Verstappen’s skill in the cockpit as an unstoppable combination.

He said: “I think it’s a problem. When you put Max Verstappen and Adrian Newey together, we have an issue.

“Adrian Newey [has] over 200 grand prix victories now as a designer. Adrian has a few more years, by all accounts, he said he is starting to go towards the end [of his career].

“If Adrian wasn’t here, the Championship would be quite tight.”

Webber was reunited at Goodwood with former team-mate Sebastian Vettel, with whom he had a frosty relationship at Red Bull between 2009 and 2013.

Vettel appeared at Goodwood behind the wheel of Nigel Mansell’s title-winning 1992 Williams FW14B and Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLaren, both cars running on sustainable fuels as part of the German’s Race Without Trace initiative.

Webber relished the opportunity to catch up with Vettel, but stopped short of asking to have a go in the FW14B and made a cheeky reference to the pair’s infamous clashes at Turkey 2010 and the Multi-21 affair of Malaysia 2013.

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He said: “I’ve got a couple of my cars. I spoke to Seb about it this morning actually [and] he was a bit jealous about the one I’ve got, which is quite nice.

“It’s just great to see Seb here in the 14B. They were my childhood cars, the early ’90s, I was watching all those races. Seb’s got some pretty awesome cars so it’s good to see him driving them.

“I don’t know if Seb would give me the keys to that, would he? He probably wouldn’t trust me. We’d probably crash into each other again. We did have a few little issues, a few lovers’ tiffs. It was all good in [love] and war. We’re great. We’ve had a few bottles of red.

“[Goodwood] is just a phenomenon. To see Seb here with his toys, we come back to our childhood. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve achieved, we all sort of seem to go back to our childhood.”

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