Martin Brundle explains why Red Bull ‘broke my heart’ at Japanese Grand Prix

Oliver Harden
Martin Brundle shuts his eyes with a prominent Red Bull logo alongside him

Make it stop: Martin Brundle was left frustrated by the scale of Red Bull's dominance at Suzuka

Martin Brundle says Red Bull “broke my heart” by dominating the Japanese Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz’s victory in Australia had raised hopes of a closer F1 2024 season.

Red Bull suffered only their second defeat since the start of last season at last month’s Australian GP, where Max Verstappen retired after just three laps with a rear-brake issue and Sergio Perez could only recover to fifth after a grid penalty.

Martin Brundle fears for F1 2024 after Red Bull dominate Japanese Grand Prix

However, the reigning Constructors’ Champions reasserted their dominance at Suzuka, where Verstappen led Red Bull’s third one-two finish in four races after a front-row lockout.

Brundle was left disappointed by Red Bull’s pace in Japan, admitting that Sainz’s victory in Melbourne had led him to believe that a closer season could be on the cards.

Appearing on the Sky F1 podcast, Brundle said: “What I’ve learned is that despite my great hopes, wishes, expectations that the pack had closed the gap a little bit to Red Bull after Australia when we went to one of the all-time great handling circuits at Suzuka, Red Bull were first and second at a canter.

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“It broke my heart a little bit really, because I thought it might be a bit closer at the front. But that track was always going to suit Red Bull.”

With all three of Verstappen’s victories in 2024 coming with a gap of around 20 seconds to the driver in third place, the nature of Red Bull’s performance at Suzuka led to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff declaring “no one is going to catch Max this year.”

Brundle sees Wolff’s interjection as a statement of the obvious, claiming only a significant leap forward from one of Red Bull’s rivals can prevent Verstappen – the winner of 47 of the last 70 races since the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021 – from storming to a fourth consecutive World Championship.

He said: “Toto wears his heart on his sleeve, especially when we catch him just after yet another disappointment in the Mercedes team at the moment.

“He tends to blurt it out as to what he thinks about his own team and other teams.

“I think it’s stating the obvious. The car’s strong, Max is at the peak of his game, his team-mate Sergio Perez is more comfortable in the 2024 car, but he’s not exactly wearing Max’s mirrors out at the same time.

“Unless McLaren, Ferrari – maybe Aston Martin, kind of Mercedes – come up with some genius upgrade that closes the gap, you’d have to say that it does look as if they’ve got both Championships under control.

“But we’ve got 20 races to go yet and, as we saw in Australia, you never know what’s going to happen.”

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