Red Bull Racing’s dominant start to the 2023 Formula 1 season should be cause for praise rather than concern, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who notes that the onus is on rivals to catch up.
The first two races have seen Red Bull enjoy a clear advantage over the rest of the field, with Max Verstappen comfortably winning in Bahrain before Sergio Perez took victory from pole in Saudi Arabia as Verstappen recovered from 15th on the grid to second. While the gap to the other teams has led to concerns about a boring season ahead, Wolff says it’s important to acknowledge the job Red Bull has done as he knows how hard it is to dominate in such a fashion.
“We have had those years where we were as strong, but it is a meritocracy,” Wolff said. “We shouldn’t talk it down because I remember hearing voices like that between 2014 and 2020. What makes the sport so special is that you need to work hard to win, and you deserve it, and that is matter of fact.
“Even if it is not great for the show that the same guys win all the time, it is because they have done a good job and we haven’t. We all hope for good entertainment and it is our duty to catch up and fight these guys. We will do everything in our power to fight back and we will look at areas of weakness that they may have.
“Entertainment follows sport and (Red Bull’s dominance) is maybe not good for the commercial side but it is what makes Formula 1 so special.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admits he’s surprised by his team’s advantage over the rest of the field, and is unsure why the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes haven’t made a similar step forward this season.
“You can only focus on yourself, so all testament to the team in Milton Keynes — they’ve done a wonderful job over the winter,” Horner said. “It was so critical for us to come out of the blocks competitively. The wind tunnel reduction has applied since what, last October? So for us, we couldn’t afford to miss the target with that limited run, because you’d never be able to engineer your way out of that with that handicap.
“So the team have done an amazing job. The RB19, it’s been the best start to a season that we’ve ever had — we’re only two races in, but to have had two 1-2 finishes and be one point off a maximum score, I don’t think we could have ever dreamed about that coming into the season.”