Leclerc fears Red Bull domination will continue


Charles Leclerc fears that Red Bull's current domination of the sport will continue until the rules overhaul in 2026.

While Ferrari and Mercedes at least gave the Austrian team a run for its money in 2022, this season Red Bull has been untouchable, winning every single race thus far and claiming the top two steps on the podium at five of them.

Last year, Charles Leclerc finished runner-up to Max Verstappen, admittedly 146 points adrift, but this year has slipped to fifth in the standings and is currently 215 points down on the Dutchman.

As Ferrari seeks to resolve the issues with its "peaky" contender, the Monegasque fears that Red Bull's domination will continue for the next two seasons.

"For sure they have a really big margin and it's going to be very difficult to catch them before the change of regulations," he admitted as the Zandvoort weekend got underway."

However, the youngster does not believe Red Bull's domination is as great as that of Mercedes during its 'golden era'.

"I think it's different than in the past," he said. "In qualifying we're much closer than what we've seen in the past. Normally when we see a team dominating it was qualifying and the race, now for some reason with Red Bull, it's much more in the race than in qualifying.

"The gaps are much bigger in the race than in qualifying. That's why we're all working on our race pace because Red Bull is so far ahead. There is still a lot of work to do.

"We have some developments in the next few races that can help us do a step forward," he confirmed, "but also with this car we can have some unexpected surprise because they are so sensitive that a small change can have a big influence. And hopefully it will be the case for us."

"The fact is they are ahead," added Lewis Hamilton, "and most likely have been developing next year's car already a month before everybody else as they're 100, 200 points ahead in the championship.

"So it's very, very possible that Charles could be right, but we're working on the steep gradient trying to develop, and get ourselves to close the gap. Whether or not we can next year will be proof within that, I hope we can."

This weekend could see Verstappen equal Sebastian Vettel's record of nine consecutive wins, while some believe the Dutchman could win every remaining event.

"There is a high chance that he'll win every race," admits Hamilton. "But, we're hopeful that we can challenge them at some point, whether it's this weekend or who knows where. And if there are any mistakes, any mishaps, we'll be right there to try and capitalize on them.

"They don't really make them, or he hasn't made any, and the team hasn't made any this year I think anyway. So yeah. They might win everything. Hopefully later on in the year, we'll get closer maybe. Not much really more to say."

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Published: 24/08/2023
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