It has been eight years since Red Bull last won both the driver and constructor championship. In 2010, the four year back-to-back titles began for the team and their then driver, Sebastian Vettel – who now drives for Aston Martin.
Since 2014 when the Mercedes domination started, Red Bull haven’t looked anywhere near their former selves to challenge for the title. Of course, Red Bull have had some defining wins. With 2014 being Daniel Ricciardo’s “year that got away” and not to mention Max’s 70th Anniversary win at Silverstone last year. However, is this the year Red Bull can finally have a championship run?
From a constructors championship outlook, this year could be their strongest year yet. It’s no secret Red Bull have struggled with their number two driver since Daniel Ricciardo left. Kyvat, Gasly and Albon have all struggled to reach the consistency of Max Verstappen.
Alex Albon, fighting for 8th in most races last year, was never going to help you win a constructors championship so they had to replace him for the sake of constructors points. The obvious choice, as a proven race winner, was Sergio Perez, who is exactly what Red Bull need for consistent points. The Bahrain Grand Prix wasn’t the best of starts where a strategic error in qualifying landed Checo with a P11 start. However, Red Bull gives you wings and with Checo managing to get P5 – this is something Alex Albon couldn’t do. When Checo eventually gets the opportunity to qualify well, I think he can challenge Bottas on a regular basis in order to get the team points to beat Mercedes.
At the age of 23, Max Verstappen has broken records of the youngest driver to start at 17, and youngest to win at 18. It’s crazy to think this is Max’s seventh season already, so in terms of F1, he is extremely experienced against other drivers of a similar age. He has phenomenal talent, but will his hot-head be his downfall over the season?
Even with Red Bull having one of the strongest line ups they’ve had in years, one crucial issue will be the reliability of the car. We all know that the Mercedes is one of the most reliable cars on the grid with Lewis having zero DNF’s since 2018, whereas Max DNF’d in all 3 Italian Grand Prix’s last year alone. Generally speaking, starting in the second row you are more likely to be in amongst the ‘drama’ of the first lap, which Max has been a few times. Mugello was a great example of this, when he got hit by Charles and went straight into the barrier.
A strong driver line up will allow them to play team strategy battles with Mercedes and give them proper wheel to wheel action. They have a chance of beating them, whereas in previous years would have only been winning out of luck. The Bahrain Grand Prix shows Red Bull have upped their game and ready to take on the fight. I think fundamentally, the title will be won or lost on the reliability of the cars rather than the consistent wins Red Bull can get.
This weekend showed us the battle that all F1 fans have wanted for years. Max vs Lewis. Since Nico Rosberg left the sport, Lewis hasn’t been pushed to the same extent. Ferrari couldn’t push Mercedes to a fierce enough battle, with hopes given up mid-way through the seasons of 2017-2018.
If there was a year in which Red Bull could win it, it’s this year. Honda have made leaps and strides with their engine. They have to be at the top of their game and not making errors like Checo missing Q3. Crucially where Red Bull have their advantage is their pit stop speed. Another sub two second pit stop could really give them an advantage.
All I can say is, we will have to wait and see how it plays out as it looks like we are in for one hell of a season!