Red Bull owner: Title race ‘a lot closer’ in 2021

Jon Wilde
Mercedes Red Bull Lewis Hamilton leads Verstappen

Mercedes Red Bull Hamilton leads Verstappen

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz thinks the 2021 season will be “a lot closer” between the top constructors – and not only his own team and Mercedes.

This year’s constructors’ World Championship was never really in doubt from the moment Valtteri Bottas won the opening Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

So dominant again were Mercedes that they ended up a huge 254 points ahead of second-placed Red Bull in the standings, and that was in a campaign that had to be reduced to 17 races instead of the originally planned 22 due to the global health pandemic.

But with Red Bull having comfortably won the closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix via Max Verstappen – albeit it was claimed Mercedes turned their engines down – Mateschitz believes the pack will tighten up next season even though the regulations are remaining largely static.

Asked if Verstappen and his new team-mate Sergio Perez can fight for the title, Mateschitz told Speedweek: “Yes. Next year will be a lot closer. Everyone is moving closer together.

“We are getting closer to Mercedes but McLaren, Aston Martin, Alpine are also getting closer to us.

“The competition behind Mercedes is very intense, and don’t forget AlphaTauri, [Pierre] Gasly had a sensational driving season and is now very confident. Daniil Kvyat also had excellent races but unfortunately he lacked consistency.”

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz

Get your hands on the official Red Bull 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store

Kvyat has subsequently been dropped by AlphaTauri in favour of Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda.

Having insisted the hiring of Perez had nothing to do with commercial reasons in terms of sponsorship revenue, Mateschitz, 76, stated the decision to replace Alex Albon with the Mexican had been entirely performance-based.

While Albon struggled to match Verstappen’s pace in the Red Bull, Perez produced a string of consistent points finishes in 2020 that kept Racing Point in with a chance of finishing third in the constructors’ standings and gained his first F1 victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

“We need two strong drivers next year,” said Mateschitz. “Perez is one of the best in terms of performance and has never had a chance in a car like ours. He deserved this chance.

“Our goal was to fill the second cockpit as best as possible – and exclusively based on performance, who can get more points?”

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