‘Don’t you remember 2005?’ – Max Verstappen and Red Bull warned by ex-Ferrari boss

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull drivers Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen racing in Miami.

Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, Red Bull, battle.

Former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt, speaking from experience, said it is no guarantee that Max Verstappen and Red Bull remain dominant in F1 2024.

Rivals were left in the dust by Verstappen and Red Bull in F1 2023, the team claiming 21 of the 22 grand prix wins on offer, while Verstappen alone accounted for 19 of those wins.

The chasing pack generally got closer as F1 2023 progressed, Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren leading the push, but with Red Bull having called time on developing the RB19 mid-season, in order to focus on the RB20, it remains to be seen how much further performance Red Bull may have unlocked.

Jean Todt issues 2005 warning to Red Bull

The stable regulations between seasons mean Red Bull are unlikely to suddenly lose their way, though former Ferrari principal Todt, who was at the helm for their run of six Constructors’ titles in a row and five Drivers’ titles from 1999-2004, knows how dominant streaks can suddenly end.

Off the back of a 2004 title double, Fernando Alonso and Renault rose to prominance with back-to-back successes in the following seasons, giving Todt reason to warn that Verstappen and Red Bull are not certain to dominate F1 2024.

Asked if there are similarities between the Michael Schumacher/Ferrari and Verstappen/Red Bull eras, Todt told La Stampa: “Yes, there are affinities.

“Red Bull has built a winning team with an extraordinary driver, very professional, intelligent in the race. A fantastic talent.

“Don’t you remember 2005? Same team, same drivers after a triumphant season. There is Schumacher, yet we are not competitive.

“We returned to being fast in 2006, but lost due to reliability problems. Michael announces his first farewell to Formula 1. He will return with Mercedes in 2010.

“Meanwhile, we won in 2007 with [Kimi] Raikkonen and lost in the last meters in 2008 with [Felipe] Massa.”

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Raikkonen’s 2007 triumph, the final season for Ferrari with Todt as team boss, remains the most recent case of a Ferrari racer winning the Drivers’ Championship.

Skip forward to present day and it is Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz representing Ferrari in hope of a title-worthy challenger, Todt backing Leclerc to take Ferrari back to the top.

“I support Leclerc,” Todt declared on which Ferrari driver can follow in Schumacher’s footsteps. “My son has [Nicolas] been following him since he raced go-karts.

“He is a great driver and deserves the opportunity to win the title.”

Both Leclerc and Sainz are expected to sign Ferrari contract extensions, their current deals up at the end of 2024.

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