Martin Brundle’s ‘no doubt’ verdict in Red Bull’s backstage ‘internal events’

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen adjusts his cap in parc ferme in Bahrain

For the first time in a long time, Max Verstappen finds himself under pressure

Sky F1 commentator Martin Brundle has been left in “no doubt” that “internal events” at Red Bull are to blame for the team’s F1 2024 drop off over recent weeks.

Red Bull produced the most dominant season in history in F1 2023, winning 21 out of a possible 22 races as Max Verstappen eased to a third consecutive World Championship.

Martin Brundle has ‘no doubt’ off-track dramas hurting Red Bull

The Milton Keynes-based outfit started the F1 2024 season in similar fashion, with Verstappen winning four of the first five races – including three Red Bull one-two finishes with team-mate Sergio Perez second in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Red Bull’s fine start to F1 2024 came despite the team’s disrupted preparation for the new season, which saw an investigation into the conduct of long-serving team principal Christian Horner dismissed.

In the aftermath of Verstappen’s win in Bahrain, the Dutchman’s father Jos called for Horner to resign, accusing him of “playing the victim when he is the one causing the problems” and warning the team would “fall apart” if he remained in position.

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With Verstappen’s future plunged into uncertainty amid interest from Mercedes, Red Bull received a further blow earlier this month as design guru Adrian Newey announced that he will leave the team in early F1 2025.

Red Bull have been restricted to just a single win in the three races since Newey’s departure was confirmed, with McLaren driver Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc winning in Miami and Monaco respectively.

Having seen off the threat of Norris to win by just 0.725 seconds at Imola, Red Bull endured their most challenging weekend for some time in Monte Carlo, where Verstappen could only finish sixth and Perez retired after a first-lap accident, having qualified a lowly 18th.

A poor weekend for Verstappen and Red Bull has seen their leads in the World Championship reduced, with the 26-year-old now just 31 points ahead of Leclerc and the team leading Ferrari by 24 ahead of next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, round nine of a record 24-race campaign.

Writing in his post-race Sky Sports column, Brundle argued Red Bull must be looking over their shoulder after upgrades brought McLaren and Ferrari back into contention.

And he outlined his belief Red Bull’s performances have been affected by the ongoing off-track saga surrounding the team.

He said: “Ferrari and McLaren are on a fine run, both teams and driver pairings looking very cohesive, focused, and well structured.

“This means that Red Bull are very much looking in their rear mirrors in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships and it appears to be game on with so many races to come.

“I personally have no doubt that the internal events at Red Bull have detracted from their recent performances, and they’ll be desperately keen to resume normal service in Montreal next time out.”

Brundle’s comments come after Verstappen Sr declared Red Bull’s period of dominance over – and urged them to respond to the growing threat posed by Ferrari and McLaren, with his son’s performances masking the reality of the team’s situation over recent weeks.

He told Dutch publication De Telegraaf: “For sure there will be other tracks where Red Bull will do well again, but I am very curious [to see] how they will solve these problems.

“They will have to do something about it, understand where certain difficulties come from. Meanwhile, it is clear that McLaren and Ferrari are getting closer and closer.

“Max has been good at hiding some of the problems, but you can see how big the difference is between him and his team-mate.

“It seems to me that Red Bull’s period of dominance has come to an end.”

Asked about the growing possibility of an F1 2024 title fight ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Verstappen Jr argued that Red Bull’s recent experience of winning would make the team “very tough” to beat in a straight battle for the World Championship.

He told media including PlanetF1.com: “Being at the front for quite a few years and as a team, the way we operate, I think it can make a difference to teams that are trying to chase that.

“We just try to stay calm and collected, we know that over the last few races teams have been catching up or have beaten us, so of course we want to try and improve as well.

“But I do think with the experience that we’ve had over the last few years, it makes us a very tough team to beat in a Championship, because we don’t make many mistakes.”

Verstappen has won 49 of the last 74 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in F1 2021.

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