Horner doubts Red Bull can repeat 2023 form


Despite Lewis Hamilton's understandable fears, Christian Horner doubts that Red Bull will be able to repeat its 2023 form again next season.

In a tremendous season, there are few, if any, records that Max Verstappen hasn't broken, one of the most remarkable being that he completed every one of the season's 1,325 racing laps. His teammate's car was equally bullet-proof and other than the accidents in Japan and Mexico might well have matched the feat.

With the rules barely changing for next season, Lewis Hamilton was understandably downcast in terms of the prospect of taking on Max and the RB20.

"At this moment I don't really know," he replied when asked if Mercedes will be able to challenge its Austrian rival next year. "For Red Bull to win by 17 seconds in the end, and they haven't even developed their car since August, is definitely a concern."

However, Horner played down the prospects of another walkover, a situation that would worry not just Hamilton and Mercedes but the sport's stakeholders.

"We saw that in 2020 with Mercedes, if you remember that was their most dominant year and yet we were able to beat them in 2021," said the Briton.

"There was a subtle rule change, but I think nothing stands still and we had competitors coming closer at different venues this year and I'm sure concepts will converge, stable regulations always concertina, so I don't think we will ever be able to repeat the season we've had.

"Hopefully we can take the lessons from RB19 and apply them into RB20 and come up with a car that we can defend these titles with."

Like McLaren in 1988, Red Bull failed to win just one race, and while one might argue that the season was just 16 races back then - compared to 22 this year - both are remarkable achievements.

However, while Ayrton Senna famously fell foul of Jean-Louis Schlesser at Monza that year, Red Bull's downfall came at Singapore where the team was at sixes and sevens.

Asked if he was bugged by that strange, off-colour weekend, Horner said: "No, it leaves you humbled that there's still something to strive for. It's a useful lesson that things can change quickly.

"Singapore was a standout weekend," he continued. "You guys have been asking me since race three if I think we can win all the races this year.

"To win 21 out of 22 races is insanity. For Max to have led over 1000 laps, for him to have won 19 races...

"We have broken McLaren's record from 1988, broken Seb's record with Max from 2013, the win ratios, all the percentages that he's hit...

"This car will go down in history, certainly for a considerable period of time, as the most dominant car in Formula One history."

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Published: 28/11/2023
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