‘How good are Red Bull really’? – Hard-hitting question asked after Max Verstappen setback

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren and Red Bull during the Australian GP.

McLaren and Red Bull.

Dutch racer Tom Coronel has been left questioning how strong the Red Bull RB20 actually is after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz brought their winning streak to a screeching halt in Australia.

Red Bull’s three-time World Champion Max Verstappen went into the race at Albert Park looking to make it 10 consecutive victories, which would have equalled his own F1 record, though Sainz had other ideas, passing Verstappen for the lead on the second lap and going to take a dominant win, with Verstappen retiring due to a brake failure shortly after Sainz overtook.

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In Verstappen’s absence, team-mate Sergio Perez was not able to mount a challenge for the win, ultimately finishing 56 seconds behind Sainz as Red Bull claimed that a visor tear-off that got stuck in his floor had cost him downforce and exacerbated tyre wear.

Verstappen went almost three-tenths faster than Sainz to claim pole, but the events of Grand Prix Sunday in Melbourne have left Coronel asking “how good is that Red Bull really?” as McLaren also had the beating of Perez with Lando Norris completing the podium.

“With the car you normally just win with, this is quite a painful one,” Coronel told RacingNews365.com. “The moment Max doesn’t do it, he [Perez] has to do it. And that wasn’t nearly the case this weekend.

“If you see that Perez can’t attack [the cars ahead] well either, then Max’s qualifying lap was really good. Three-tenths of a second seems very dominant. But if that car was really that good, it should have easily gotten on the podium. That’s not the case, so how good is that Red Bull really? Aren’t Ferrari and McLaren faster?”

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Ferrari would duly score a one-two finish with Charles Leclerc following team-mate Sainz across the line in P2, that result allowing Leclerc to reduce Verstappen’s Drivers’ Championship lead to four points, while Ferrari did the same versus Red Bull in the Constructors’ standings.

F1 pundit Ruud Dimmers believes Melbourne marked a step forward for Ferrari, though warned that the Scuderia has historically done well at Albert Park. Sainz’s 2024 triumph marked Ferrari’s 10th victory at this circuit.

“Ferrari were really mega good,” said Dimmers. “We did expect them to be in qualifying, but they also held up well in the race.

“Well with that said, Melbourne is a circuit where they are always good.”

The events of Melbourne have created plenty of intrigue heading into the next round – the Japanese Grand Prix – where Verstappen will go searching for his third win on the trot at Suzuka.

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