Home BusinessAutomobile For the 2024 F1 season, Red Bull is the focus

For the 2024 F1 season, Red Bull is the focus

by SuperiorInvest

For Red Bull's nine Formula 1 rivals, there is a mix of hope and realism that the sport's dominant team can be defeated this season.

Last year, Red Bull and its champion driver, Max Verstappen, rewrote the record books by defending their constructors' and drivers' titles.

Ahead of the new season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday, Verstappen said his achievements would be “very difficult to surpass, but it is not our goal. “It's about trying to offer another very competitive car.”

Since the introduction of new aerodynamic regulations in 2022, designed to help one car follow another more closely and make overtaking easier, Red Bull has won 38 of 44 Grands Prix. In 2023, Verstappen set the record for most wins in a season, 19 in 22 races.

The belief among many team principals and technical directors is that under current regulations the limits can only be pushed so far and Red Bull will be trapped.

“Inevitably, when you have a team that is doing as well as Red Bull from 2022, there will be some kind of convergence in their solutions,” said Dan Fallows, Aston Martin technical director. “We take the approach that Red Bull is absolutely beatable. That is what we pursue, what we intend. “We are focusing on them.”

Last season, Red Bull was beaten twice: by Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in the Singapore Grand Prix and by McLaren's Oscar Piastri in the sprint race in Qatar. Piastri's teammate Lando Norris said it was possible Red Bull and Verstappen would lose in a Grand Prix this year, but questioned whether they could lose their championships.

“If you ask 'Are they beatable?', you're going to have to say yes, and we're going to want to believe in saying yes because we were very close at times last season, and at certain times we won. them,” he said.

“If the question is, 'Can we beat them in one season?', that's going to be the challenge, and I think it's going to be very difficult to do that given how well they're performing.”

After improvements were made to McLaren at the Austrian and Singapore Grands Prix last year, Norris has scored more points than any other driver except Verstappen in the last 14 races.

Andrea Stella, the McLaren team principal, expects Red Bull to maintain its lead but is hopeful the gap can be narrowed.

“If we maintain the pace of development we had in 2023, we can be in a solid position,” he said. “We'll see if that's enough to challenge Red Bull and the other top teams, who will no doubt have made good improvements.”

Verstappen dominated last season to such an extent that his record for most points in a season, 575, was enough to win the constructors' title alone. Second-place Mercedes scored 409.

Mercedes, like Ferrari, has remodeled its car for this season. Mercedes, which won eight consecutive constructors' championships from 2014 to 2021 before the following year's regulation change, has introduced a new chassis and gearbox.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, is pragmatic.

“On the one hand, you have to be realistic about the odds of beating a team that is well ahead under these regulations and that did things well in the last two seasons, while we didn't,” he said. “There are no miracles in sport.

“On the other hand, our ambition is strong. It is Red Bull and a highly successful car that is the benchmark we aim to surpass. I don't know when that will happen, we don't have any crystal ball. But we will soon know how far they are and the task ahead.”

Lewis Hamilton, who has won six of his seven drivers' championships with Mercedes, leaves the team at the end of the year to go to Ferrari.

Hamilton activated a clause in his contract with Mercedes that will allow him to leave a year early. He said he was fulfilling “a childhood dream” by joining Ferrari, but that he is determined to finish his career with Mercedes “on a high”.

“It would be the greatest honor to help them get back to the top,” Hamilton, 39, said. “I feel more motivated and focused than ever. “I never thought, at this point in my life, that I would be hungry like I am now.”

Hamilton will partner Charles Leclerc at Ferrari in 2025. Leclerc, who signed a multi-year contract extension during the offseason, is looking to build on a strong finish to last year.

“Although 2023 was a disappointing season because we were not fighting for the positions we wanted to fight for, there was a very good reaction from the team,” said Leclerc. “The second part of the season was really good.

“Our goal is to start this season on the solid basis we finished last year and then have a similar type of progression to put Red Bull under pressure as soon as possible.”

Team-mate Carlos Sainz, who is looking for a new team for next season after losing his seat to Hamilton, said Ferrari had done everything it could to close the gap on Red Bull.

“Although Red Bull is going to come out super strong, Ferrari is capable of closing that gap and putting us in a position to fight for more victories,” he said.

“Let's wait until the first race to see how competitive we are and then I can tell you how many wins I think we can achieve this season.”

At the start of last season, Aston Martin started strongly, with Fernando Alonso taking the podium in six of the first eight races, but failing to win.

Alonso, 42, is encouraged by the words of his technical director, Fallows, that Red Bull is beatable. “It's good that you say that,” he said. “He puts a smile on my face. We have to be optimistic in this part of the season.

“Firstly, we have to be regularly in the points, fighting for podiums, as we did last year, and if we are in that position, it would be fantastic to achieve the first victory in green for Aston Martin. Hopefully I can be behind the wheel at that time.”

At the presentation of its car, the RB20, for this season, Red Bull presented a different bodywork, particularly the sides and engine cover.

Team principal Christian Horner said technical director Adrian Newey and his team were working hard despite the success of 2023.

“Logically there will be convergence with stable regulations. We can see that other cars have been influenced by the RB19 and we hope that other teams will converge,” he said, referring to last year's car. “But the team has done a wonderful job on RB20. There has been no complacency. “They have continued to evolve and push the limits.”

Verstappen agreed. He said the new style was “controlled aggression.”

“When I saw the drawings of the new car I thought: 'Wow! That's quite different in a way,'” she said. “They have not been conservative.”

“What I like about the team is that we had a great package, but they took the opportunity to do everything they could and try to improve it. From what I see within the team, everyone is happy with what they achieved in the winter. There are no question marks.”

After three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain last week, Sainz finished with the fastest time but it was accepted that Verstappen and Red Bull will once again be the combination to beat.

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