Ted Kravitz thinks all eyes will be on Red Bull ‘with 20mph straight-line speed advantage’

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen driving the Red Bull RB19. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Max Verstappen driving the Red Bull RB19 at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Saudi Arabia, March 2023.

Sky F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz suspects that Red Bull’s mightily efficient DRS will be the next technical aspect to attract attention in Formula 1.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen would start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from P15 on the grid having dropped out in Q2 due to a driveshaft failure.

The reigning World Champion was expected to gain many positions throughout the race though, such is Red Bull’s dominating pace advantage in race trim early in F1 2023, and that is exactly what Verstappen did as he went on to finish P2 behind team-mate Sergio Perez.

That meant it was back-to-back one-two results for Red Bull to start F1 2023.

And during Verstappen’s recovery up the grid, it was his overtake on Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton which drew a very interesting post-race line out of the Brit, who claimed that in all his years in Formula 1, those starting in 2007, he has never seen a car as fast as that RB19 as Verstappen shot past.

And speaking to Sky Sports News, Kravitz spoke of a near-20mph advantage for Verstappen with that DRS, so suspects rival teams will now be looking into how exactly Red Bull have been able to achieve that.

Asked if Hamilton is right in saying that the RB19 is the fastest car yet during his time in Formula 1, Kravitz replied: “Well, a) it is, he’s right, and b) what Hamilton is referring to is the ease at which Max Verstappen was able to pass him on the straight the moment he opened his rear wing flap.

“So we have this thing called the Drag Reduction System, and that means that on the straight if a car is behind, they can open their rear wing which normally slows the car down, having a rear wing.

“If you put your hand out of your car on a motorway, you can feel the air pressure, the rear wing opens itself up and the airflow goes through and it gives the car a straight-line speed boost, the one car behind it.

“What Lewis is saying is that you’ve never seen a car gain quite so much speed by opening its Drag Reduction System, rear wing flap, and he doesn’t understand how that’s possible.

“Now listen, this is one of those things. There’s lots of technical intrigue in Formula 1. Lots of people will be looking at the Red Bull and saying how are they able to gain nearly 20 miles an hour advantage on the straight from anybody else? Are they doing something with that rear wing that not only stalls out the rear wing of course, but also stalls out the floor or other aerodynamics around the car?

“So that’ll be I’m sure the latest round of technical intrigue in Formula 1 when we get to the next race in Australia.”

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Verstappen, much to his frustration, was not able to make it back-to-back wins to start F1 2023, instead having to settle for crossing the line behind his team-mate, Red Bull having looked to neutralise any potential race between their drivers once both cars were out in front.

Kravitz though was clear that in the long term, Verstappen is Red Bull’s chosen driver for the Championship success in F1 2023 which is already looking inevitable.

Asked if Perez can make Drivers’ Championship competitive, Kravitz responded: “He can make it competitive, but ultimately, Red Bull is fully behind Max Verstappen.

“Max Verstappen’s dad Jos Verstappen was disappointed that the Red Bull team were not allowing the drivers to race at the end of the race. But yeah, Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s focus for the Championship. No question about it.”