Red Bull identify rival F1 team with ‘great strength in depth’ as main rival

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen dominated the Brazilian Grand Prix, having led from the start. FIA

Max Verstappen leads the pack into the first corner at Interlagos.

Christian Horner has pointed to Mercedes’ “great strength in depth” as a potential rival for Red Bull in 2024, but concedes they’re not the only threat.

Having beaten Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 World title, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen went on to win three in a row having wrapped up the third in a record-breaking 2023 campaign.

Winning 19 of 22 Grands Prix, Red Bull taking 21 wins in total, Verstappen set new records for the most wins, most successive wins, and biggest winning margin.

Christian Horner: You could take your pick, almost

It has rivals, including Hamilton, worried his and Red Bull’s reign could run for at least another two years until new regulations are implemented in 2026.

Horner has downplayed the prospect of that, the team boss believing 2023 was a “unicorn” season for his team.

“I’m sure over the next two years we’re going to see much closer racing,” he said as per Speedcafe. “We will not repeat the year.

“It will go down as a unicorn year for us, that’s for sure.”

But while it was Ferrari who put paid to Red Bull’s perfect 22 from 22 last season, it’s Mercedes who Horner reckons could pose the biggest threat to his team’s success story in the upcoming season.

“Mercedes has great strength in depth,” he said.

“Obviously, they’ve had a difficult period, but they’ve great drivers, and they will get it together, one would assume, at some point.”

Mercedes, though, aren’t the only team who could challenge with Horner mentioning McLaren’s “great back end of the year” and Ferrari’s “flashes of real potential.

“So it’s difficult to identify which of those is likely to be the biggest challenger, but you could take your pick almost.”

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Last season Red Bull were hounded by an unexpected challenger in the opening rounds with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso clinching six podiums in eight races.

The team’s challenge faltered mid-season as they went down the “wrong” path with the AMR23’s upgrades, although they did recover a bit of lost ground in the final few races.

It has Horner predicting the Silverstone-based team could also be in the hunt this season.

“They made a huge step at the beginning of the year, but they really tailed off in the second half. I’m sure they’re looking to understand why that happened,” he added.

“But they’ve got big facilities, big resources, and they’ve recruited a lot of talent into that team, and Fernando was brilliant. He drove fantastically well. For a 42-year-old guy, I thought he was outstanding.”

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