Sky F1 pundit senses ‘let’s get Max party’ now closing in on Red Bull

Jamie Woodhouse
Close-up shot of Max Verstappen, Red Bull. Silverstone, July 2023.

A close-up shot of Max Verstappen in the Red Bull RB19. Silverstone, July 2023.

Sky F1’s Martin Brundle believes the chasing pack are now starting to whittle away the advantage Max Verstappen and Red Bull have been enjoying, with Sergio Perez unwillingly serving as motivation.

So far in F1 2023 the rest of the grid has had no answer for this unstoppable team and driver combination, with all 10 grand prix wins having so far gone Red Bull’s way, Verstappen claiming eight of those to Perez’s two.

But, the most recent outings in Austria and Britain have offered some hope that the pursuers are now starting to make inroads on the Red Bull dominance.

Teams jostling to challenge Max Verstappen and Red Bull

The Red Bull driver actually labelled it “confusing” to see how behind him, the ‘best of the rest’ battle continues to shift on a race-by-race basis.

At this stage, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ferrari and now McLaren have all had a shot at leading that charge, so now we wait to see which team it is leading that particular battle at the next stop in Hungary.

Brundle even sees Alpine and Williams, courtesy of Verstappen’s former team-mate Alex Albon, now gaining an interest in this ‘let’s get Max’ party, though overall he believes this group is reeling the runaway Championship leader in.

It was during the Austrian Grand Prix where Verstappen’s run of consecutive laps led came to an end at 249, while at Silverstone McLaren’s Lando Norris led the opening five laps after jumping Verstappen at the start.

“As his team-mate Sergio Perez sadly struggles to deliver the full potential of his Red Bull in recent races, once again we can say that if Max wasn’t so utterly at one with himself, this car, and his team, we’d be in the middle of one hell of a World Championship,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column.

“In the early phases of the season it was all about Aston Martin leading the chase, but either they’ve been out-developed by other teams, or they have gone slightly the wrong way on their own developments, or a little of both, meaning that they’ve slipped back in the past two races.

“Mercedes keep polishing up their reluctant car – now apparently called Diva 2.0 – and from time to time it has shown some blistering race pace. But ‘knife edge’ appears to be its resting place in terms of drivability.

“Ferrari also effectively tickled the SF-23 and it performed well in Austria and would line up fourth and fifth on the grid in Silverstone.

“But entering stage left after a promising Austrian GP was the newly fettled McLaren which was plain fast around the scary and challenging corners of Silverstone in the hands of Lando Norris as well as the impressive Oscar Piastri.

“Add to that the ability of Williams and Alpine to seriously threaten to join the ‘let’s get Max’ party and you’ll see what I mean about a stirring Championship battle.

“Verstappen’s pole position was hard won by just a quarter of a second from the flying McLarens, and he had to work for it.

“I have no doubt that the pack are closing in on Red Bull as they improve their cars and Red Bull are minimising 2023 updates and costs, and looking at the 2024 car already.” recommends

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Is a Sergio Perez-shaped carrot being dangled for Red Bull’s pursuers?

While Verstappen continues to lead the way at the wheel of the RB19, leaving his rivals with no clue yet how to stop him, Perez is not coming close to delivering these kinds of results.

His talk of a title challenge has faded into a distant memory and he is now without a Q3 appearance in the last five rounds, a quite shocking statistic when looking at the performances Verstappen is unleashing in that challenger.

And so, Brundle believes that Perez is showing that driving the RB19 is not a guarantee of victory, therefore boosting the beliefs of Red Bull’s rivals that they are not unbeatable.

“I take no pleasure in writing this as I like and admire Sergio Perez as a person and a driver, but while Max reeled off six straight wins Sergio has had a second, third, fourth, two sixth places, and a 16th having spent the last five races recovering from qualifying dramas,” Brundle noted.

“The Red Bull is not a car which can autonomously drive to guaranteed victory and the pack must sense that.”

Perez is though currently ensuring that Red Bull are on to achieve their goal for the F1 2023 campaign, which is to record a one-two finish in the Drivers’ standings for the first time.

Verstappen leads the way on 255 points to Perez’s 156, with Fernando Alonso currently P3 on 137.

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