Lewis Hamilton expects Red Bull will re-establish their 30-second margin over the pack in Japan, and if they do not, then something really is going on.
Despite struggling throughout Friday practice last time out in Singapore, few believed that Red Bull, who had claimed all 14 grand prix wins up to that point in F1 2023, were genuinely in trouble.
That was confirmed though with a double elimination in Q2, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz going on to become the first non-Red Bull race winner of the season.
Lewis Hamilton expects Red Bull 30 seconds clear at Suzuka
Red Bull then are the major talking point as Formula 1 heads for Suzuka, home of the Japanese Grand Prix, where we will find out whether Singapore was a shock blip for Red Bull, or whether something truly has changed to knock Red Bull off their perch.
The team consistently denied suggestions that the pair of FIA technical directives introduced for Singapore, designed to combat flexible bodywork and floors, had any impact on the RB19.
All eyes on Suzuka then, and if Red Bull struggle once more, then Hamilton says “something’s up” for the Austrian outfit.
“I would think that if they’re not 30 seconds ahead, like they have done in the past, then something’s up,” Hamilton told media ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
“It was obviously a difficult weekend the last one, but their car should be phenomenal here. They’ve been phenomenal all year long, their pace at pretty much every circuit.
“I mean, it’s going to be great to watch that car in general. Normally, you’d come here and it’s beautiful to watch the laps that they do because the whole team and the drivers are doing an amazing job with the package they have. So it’ll be interesting to see how the weekend goes.
“I hope we’ll be closer and I hope they’re not as fast as that 30-second gap they’ve had in the past.”
Sergio Perez anticipates stronger Red Bull at Suzuka
Perez admitted that Red Bull still do not have a full understanding of what went so horribly wrong for them in Singapore, though the team are getting “good indications” that setup errors were to blame.
Nonetheless, now F1 2023 moves on to Suzuka and a track which Perez reckons will actually be one of the “best circuits” on the calendar for Red Bull.
“Well, that’s definitely the target,” Perez replied when asked if Red Bull will be back this weekend?
“We still don’t understand fully what went so wrong in Singapore.
“We obviously have some good ideas on how we prepared the weekend and the misinformation we had and where things got wrong. But obviously, it’s something that we will keep internally, but there’s some good indications that we probably approached the weekend with the wrong setup.
“But certainly this track is very different, so there shouldn’t be a reason why not to be strong.
“And Suzuka actually, this should be one of the best circuits for us.”
Should Red Bull outscore Mercedes in Japan, and avoid being outscored by Ferrari by 24 points or more, then they will secure the 2023 Constructors’ Championship title.