How the four-week break could end up hurting Red Bull

Mark Scott
Mercedes' George Russell leads Red Bull's Max Verstappen into Turn 1 at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Mercedes' George Russell leads Red Bull's Max Verstappen into Turn 1 at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Runaway F1 2023 leaders Red Bull could find their sizeable advantage eaten into as the sport finally returns to track action in Baku this weekend.

Red Bull have been in league of their own at the start of the 2023 campaign, picking up where they left off in 2022 by quickly asserting dominance in both World Championships.

But, after Max Verstappen claimed his second win of the year with victory at the Australian Grand Prix, his momentum has been halted by a break in the calendar which was triggered by the latest cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Whilst lengthy breaks during an F1 calendar are nothing new, this one is slightly different in that this wasn’t an official ‘shut-down’ period for teams to observe and production could still continue back at base.

Mercedes were one team who made that very clear.

“We need to consolidate our understanding and hopefully over the next few races we can make another step,” Wolff said.

“It’s also important to keep on track and not oscillate too much between exuberance and depression; to stay rational and believe in our trajectory, believe in the capability of the team.

“There will be setbacks but there will also be upgrades and plenty of work that will help us get closer to the front.

“The machine is continuing to run in Brixworth and Brackley at a fast pace. What you see on track is only the tip of the iceberg, but the performance of the car and power unit is made in these two factories.

“We will consistently be bringing upgrades to the car over the next few races, which is something to look forward to.”

With Red Bull’s window for further improvement becoming narrower and narrower over the course of the season, a lengthy break will allow rivals like Mercedes to play catch up a little bit more with no race weekends getting in the way.

This is a point that was highlighted by F1 commentator and presenter Natalie Pinkham in the latest episode of F1 Nation.

“Well, I do feel progress is exactly the right word [to use for Mercedes],” she said.

“Obviously, it’s been a difficult start to the season, but I think Australia felt like a significant step forward.

“And they’re making all the right noises now, aren’t they? I think this four week break, actually, ironically, could hamper Red Bull more than their competitors. They’ve been able to bring upgrades because if you remember, this isn’t a shutdown. This isn’t like the summer break.

“They’ve been able to carry on functioning as usual without the distraction or the potential loss of parts that a race brings.

“But they’ve [Mercedes] had the reshuffle of the technical team and Toto [Wolff] has talked about consistently bringing upgrades over the coming races, so this potentially could bode well for Mercedes-Benz.”

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