‘Red Bull could coast through the rest of 2023 as only F1 team without an issue’

Oliver Harden
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc trails Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Bahrain.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc trails Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

A respected Formula 1 technical analyst believes Red Bull could afford to coast through the rest of the 2023 season after a dominant Bahrain Grand Prix victory, claiming Max Verstappen’s team are the only ones on the grid without a weakness.

Verstappen made a perfect start to his latest title defence, converting a comfortable pole position at the Sakhir circuit into a Red Bull one-two finish with Fernando Alonso’s third-placed Aston Martin almost 40 seconds behind the race winner.

After Red Bull won all but five races last season, there is a growing fear that the team could dominate again in 2023 with Mercedes driver George Russell and team boss Toto Wolff claiming the RB19 could be the first car in F1 history to win every race in a single campaign.

Appearing as a guest on F1 journalist Peter Windsor’s YouTube channel, Craig Scarborough believes the signs for 2023 are ominous after Bahrain, with the effect of their punishment for breaching F1’s budget cap in 2021 the only thing that could impede the Red Bull juggernaut.

He said: “Last year, they had some problems in the early races, the car was overweight, we had those fuel system issues and a few other issues, Honda issues.

“This year there’s no evidence of any of that. The car is good everywhere.

“They were able to run a stint on soft tyres that everyone burnt a set of hards through almost lap for lap, so what does that tell us about their potential this season?

“I think the only thing that we can say is the Red Bull is potentially going to lose some performance over the year because they have their budget restrictions and – the big one – their aero testing restrictions.

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“So that’s the only hope for everyone but, at the moment, I don’t feel anyone is within firing range of them to get close enough to catch them towards the end of the season, so they could potentially coast for the rest of the year if they feel that Mercedes and Ferrari aren’t going to bring the fight to them and Aston as well, which you would have to argue at this stage is something that they would have to consider.

“Maybe not shaking up to be super optimistic for the season, but they’ve done the job and other people have failed. I think that’s the thing.

“It’s not that they’ve done a super job, gone above and beyond. They’ve just simply got the job done and I think every other team out of the 10, all nine have some kind of an issue which they hadn’t rectified.”

The emergence of Aston Martin as a front-runner in Bahrain with the technically interesting design has led to suggestions that some teams could take inspiration from the AMR23 car as a quick fix for their issues.

However, Scarborough has dismissed the notion that Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s legendary chief technical officer, will also be sitting up and taking notice of the green car.

“I would say no, they’re not really looking at anything on the Aston,” he said. “There’s a lot of features on the Aston that are quite Red Bull-ish.

“You’ve got the sidepods and the way that they operate, the underfloors are quite different and Adrian is not someone that really copies.

“Whenever you see a big trend, often it’s a Newey car that’s quite late to adopt it and I can think of a number of things like drum brake ducts, keels and bits and pieces – he was always the last to adopt them.

“He always uses ideas that he wants to use and can sometimes be slow to pick up on – no, that’s a rude way of saying it – maybe he doesn’t want to pick up on the latest trends although he’s very good at using other people’s ideas and converting them.

“So I don’t think there’s anything they’d be doing.”