F1 Starts Longest Season with Red Bull Still the Team to Beat

The longest Formula One season in history, with 24 races, gets underway on Saturday in Bahrain, and opponents seeking to reduce the gap and overcome Max Verstappen’s strong Red Bull squad may face a long journey.

The indications from three days of testing at the Sakhir track last week suggested that the champions, who won all but one of the 22 grands prix last year, were poised to continue where they left off.

Despite the fact that team principal Christian Horner is battling for his job in the face of complaints about his behavior from a female colleague, Red Bull seemed unconcerned.

Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, and Aston Martin all made the proper sounds about their new vehicles, confident gremlins.

The suspicion is that when the flag drops on Saturday night, with the first two rounds of the season in the Middle East held a day earlier than usual to accommodate Ramadan, Red Bull will be first across the line.

As McLaren team principal Andrea Stella told reporters in Bahrain: “There’s one car that seems to have found a big step. Unfortunately, (that’s) the car that was already the quickest last year.”


The hope, for fans wanting closer racing at the front and yearning for change after Red Bull’s run of 38 wins in the last 44 races, is that the gap — if as feared — will close as the season progresses.

The regulations have been stable for a while and that in itself usually sees a tightening of the field.

“There’s more races now so there’s more track time, more data, more understanding, more looking at other cars and seeing what developments they bring,” Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo told Reuters.

“I don’t think anyone’s pressing any panic buttons. It’s a long season and developments can make big changes.”

Ferrari, the only team to beat Red Bull last year, lapped fastest in testing but Mercedes were also buoyed by a much less “spiteful” car than its predecessor.

“We’re looking alright,” Mercedes technical director James Allison said after testing. “I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that (Red Bull) have got their noses and perhaps a bit more of their face in front of those of us that are chasing.

“But I think we’ll make a good fist of the chasing and hopefully just develop strongly through the year.”

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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