FIA warning spells trouble for Red Bull hopes of continuing F1 dominance

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen pulls into parc ferme after winning the race. Spain June 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen pulls into parc ferme after winning the race. Spain June 2023

FIA single seater director Nikolas Tombazis claims it is “only a matter of time” before the F1 pack converges and the all-conquering Red Bull dominance is no more.

Red Bull have made the perfect start to the F1 2023 campaign, winning all eight grands prix to leave the competition in the dust as they seemingly march towards successive title doubles.

Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari have all taken their opening major shots at Red Bull in the development war, Max Verstappen’s margin of victory last time out in Canada indeed greatly reduced, but his final buffer of nine-and-a-half seconds over Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, including a Safety Car period, shows the scale of the challenge still ahead.

The FIA’s intention with these new ground effect regulations, alongside the budget cap and sliding scale on allotted wind tunnel time, was to bring the pack closer together, and yet Red Bull have stolen a march on the rest and are now untouchable out in front.

Tombazis though insists this is merely temporary, and with the pack behind Red Bull so competitive, which sees Mercedes, Aston Martin and Ferrari scrapping with the pursuers not far behind, Tombazis says Red Bull will soon fall into this battle, perhaps as soon as in the coming months.

“Putting Red Bull aside, everyone else is close,” he told Corriere della Sera, “and I think it’s only a matter of time before performance convergence is achieved.

“Maybe it will be achieved in the next few months, maybe it will be early next year.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

The ones that got away: Red Bull’s lost F1 wins with Verstappen, Vettel, Ricciardo and Albon

Mark Webber outlines the one reason F1 fans disregard Red Bull’s success

And a main factor behind this confidence from Tombazis is the influence which the likes of Aston Martin, Mercedes and Ferrari are now taking from the design concept of the Red Bull RB19 for their challengers.

Mercedes and Ferrari made in-season alterations which included a move to more Red Bull-esque sidepods, and for Mercedes especially this appears to be paying off.

Tombazis then is hopeful of a 2021-style season coming around again soon, where Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton battled over the World Championship to the last lap of the season, while Alpine also won a race and Ferrari and McLaren were also in the mix at certain venues.

“Almost everyone is going towards the Red Bull technical concept – even Mercedes and Ferrari,” Tombazis continued.

“We hope to see very close World Championships again, maybe like it was in 2021. But we cannot create them artificially.

“We cannot fight against the ability of some to do a better job than others. It must be admitted that there are those who have done better with these rules.”

Verstappen finds himself 69 points ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez at the top of the Drivers’ standings after taking six wins in the opening eight grands prix, while Red Bull are 154 points clear of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.