Can the rest of the pack catch Team Red Bull
'The fastest car I have seen' Rivals Have Said
When Sergio Perez beat fellow team-mate Max Verstappen, he drove what team manager Christian Horner called his "best grand prix," but the major Formula 1 story on Sunday was just how far ahead Red Bull are of everyone else.
It was more of a confirmation than a surprise because Red Bull had a clear edge at the season-opening race in Bahrain two weeks prior. Still demoralising for their competitors despite that.
Verstappen was able to compete for victory that would not have been feasible prior to the safety car closing the field at two-fifths distance.
Perez and Verstappen at the start of the race were in a battle for first and second, with Perez ahead. They pulled away from the next car behind which was Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin at sometimes more than a second a lap which just should the difference in speed of the 2 cars from different teams.
Lewis Hamilton, who has extensive experience with dominance from his time with Mercedes, claimed to have "never seen a car so fast."
The seven-time winner claimed that even at their best for Mercedes that they were not that fast. "That is the fastest car I have seen compared to the rest."
The RB19, the new F1 car from Red Bull, is undoubtedly special.
Verstappen broke the record for most victories in a season with this design last year, and it has moved Red Bull into "a different league," in the words of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, and is destined to be remembered as one of the best F1 cars ever.
It is yet another masterpiece created by the team under the direction of Adrian Newey, the most celebrated designer in the sport of Formula One.
After the race, Horner acknowledged that even Red Bull were taken aback by the size of their lead. When asked if he knew how they managed to hold such an advantage over their competitors, he replied, "Not really, but you can only focus on yourselves."
Red Bull has won both of the first two races, with Verstappen finishing first in Bahrain and Perez second in Saudi Arabia after the world champion's driveshaft failed during practice, dropping him to 15th place.
Verstappen appeared to be moving so quickly during practise in Jeddah that some believed he might be able to win the race even from that position, much like he did from just one position higher in Belgium last year.
However, that was factoring in Perez's Sunday performance, which was exceptional.
Is There Any Hope For The Other Teams This Season
In Formula One, it is extremely unlikely that a squad that enters a season with such an advantage will ever lose it. Few anticipate that this year will be any different. However, there are other issues at play that are at least providing Red Bull's competitors some hope.
A sliding scale of aerodynamic research was a component of the significant regulation changes that were implemented in 2022 with the intention of closing the field and making the race more competitive, at least on the front, this looks like it has obviously failed.
The following year, the least successful team is allowed the most R&D time, and the most successful team is allowed the least. At the halfway point of a particular championship, the positions are reviewed to represent the standings.
Red Bull thus has fewer opportunities to develop their car than anyone else, and as part of their punishment for being found guilty of exceeding the budget limit in 2021, they will also see an additional reduction of 10%.
Fernando Alonso made the point that Red Bull would eventually experience dependability or other issues, just as they did for Verstappen during Jeddah qualifying.
So, time will tell this season if the teams can catch Red Bull, back to the drawing board for them over the next couple of months and especially for before the iconic Monaco Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton has provided an honest assessment of Mercedes' chances of catching the leads before Sunday's Australian Grand Prix. The seven-time World Champion predicted that it would “It is going to take us the rest of the year, for sure, to potentially close that gap.”