Can Red Bull win every Grand Prix this season?


Alfa Romeo and Ferrari have already signed a Grand Slam in Formula 1, in 1950 and 1952 respectively. When the British teams had not swept the tracks, the two Italian brands had won all the Grands Prix of the season. The calendar did not count 22 like today and the Quadrifoglio and the Prancing Horse had skipped the Indianapolis 500, an exotic piece brought back to Formula 1 to give it a world label.

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Since then, several teams have dominated the world championship to the point of disgust, but never unchallenged. Could Red Bull set a precedent this season? The Austrian team has taken the first eight races of 2023 and equaled the best start in Mercedes history dating back to 2019. As for the record, the well-oiled machine from Milton Keynes will still have to whip a little: in 1988 , McLaren had reigned over the first 11 race weekends, with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, calibers of exceptional speed and reliability.

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« Adapt to all types of circuit »

At the 12th meeting of the World Cup, in Monza, the English team had fallen on a double failure, on the one hand technical, on the other human. Thus had flown away the Grand Slam dream of Ron Dennis, the boss of Woking. Breakage of the Honda for the Frenchman, even more improbable misunderstanding for the Brazilian, reputed to be skilled in traffic, when he wanted to take a second lap from Jean-Louis Schlesser, beginner-freelancer for Williams, two laps from the finish.

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This single fall in a 16-event Championship had brought eternal regrets to Ron Dennis, of a sick obsession for perfection. « Our philosophy was to take each race away, which required the team to do very meticulous technical work and to prove that our cars could adapt to all types of circuits.had blown the English boss. Our challenge, as provocative as it was interpreted – even distorted – never covered all the Grands Prix as if it were an imperative program… Besides, if I had aimed for the 16 Grands Prix Prix, Ayrton and Alain would have received appropriate instructions according to their styles, their ability to shine in such and such circumstances, or even according to our interest in the team’s image. But that was never the case. They raced completely independently, with the only obvious restriction of not harming each other and never forgetting the best interests of the team. »

The example of Mercedes

This pragmatic management of this fiery duo was to lead to an overwhelming, exclusive, historic domination. A precedent impossible to reproduce in the defined terms, with one of the most beautiful and efficient machines of all time, and two cracks like no one has been able to associate since.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix

Credit: Getty Images

Many then tried, approaching the perfect score without reaching it. Mercedes turned 19/21 in 2016 with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. And fell a first time, failing to have known how to respect the principles of Ron Dennis, some three decades earlier. Toto Wolff’s riders had prioritized their personal interests and that’s why they ended up in a gravel pit at Montmelo. Later, in Sepang, Mercedes had also not accomplished the « very meticulous technical work » of preparation and the imponderables had done the rest. Domination in practice, engine failure for Lewis Hamilton in the race, irresponsible collision for Nico Rosberg at the start…

Closer to Ferrari

With the best equipment and an outstanding driver duo, McLaren and Mercedes had failed anyway, and it is perhaps ultimately the example of Ferrari in 2002 that is most reminiscent of the situation in which Red Bull finds itself today. Racing. With its star driver – Michael Schumacher – and a No. 2 driver in charge, Rubens Barrichello, the Scuderia did not go far from winning everything (15/17). The German had finished all the races in the top 3, and Max Verstappen has done better so far by finishing first or second.

The « Red Baron » was at the heart of a series of 24 points finishes, and « Super Max » has nothing to envy him today by posting 27 consecutive award-winning results. But the strength of the Reds was also its weakness: « Rubinho » was a fragile « back up », as Sergio Pérez has become today at Red Bull. And this is what calls Christian Horner more than ever to caution. “We have 22 events, street circuits, different weather conditions, the question of reliability, strategy, the luck factor… So I think winning 22 Grands Prix is ​​unimaginable”the team principal told the Financial Times in May, after the team’s fifth victory. « We just want to keep going as long as possible, take the time in every race and not think about trying to win 22 races. »

Sergio Pérez and Max Verstappen (Red Bull) at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Credit: Getty Images

We understand it well, the Grand Slam over the season is not a subject at Red Bull, because we still have to face too many challenges, imponderables. The RB19 nevertheless remains a formidable asset to achieve this. Adrian Newey’s creation has also received all the checkered flags in 2023 – only Alfa Romeo has done so – and this is the first condition to be met. Time will tell if that was achievable.

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