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Red Bull’s hidden potential: Russell claims team is holding back



Red Bull hidden potential F1 Russell claims team is holding back

George Russell’s statement suggests that Red Bull is intentionally holding back and concealing its true potential to avoid the possibility of the FIA taking any actions.

The battle for supremacy in Formula 1 is always intense, with teams pushing their vehicles and drivers to the limits to secure a win. In the recent Australian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen of Red Bull claimed victory despite a difficult start, leaving the Mercedes team in awe of his impressive pace.

George Russell believes that Red Bull is intentionally restraining its Formula 1 vehicle and feels “almost ashamed” to expose its complete capabilities. Max Verstappen, on the other hand, claimed his team’s second triumph of the season, despite a difficult start to the Australian Grand Prix that resulted in him falling behind Lewis Hamilton and Russell in the opening lap.

Initially, Russell held the lead, but his chances were ruined when he pitted during a safety car phase, which unexpectedly turned into a red flag. At the restart, Hamilton took the lead with Verstappen close behind. However, Verstappen effortlessly passed Hamilton and displayed an impressive straight-line speed advantage, leaving Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff astounded. Verstappen quickly transformed a 0.5-second deficit into a 2.1-second lead in just one lap, demonstrating his outstanding pace.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Russell stated that Red Bull is intentionally holding back and is hesitant to display its complete capabilities. According to him, the team is concerned that if they appear too dominant, the sport may take steps to constrain them. He estimated that Red Bull has a seven-tenths advantage over the rest of the field.

Russell added that Max Verstappen did not need to push himself or his team during the Australian Grand Prix, as they were already in a comfortable position. Despite their impressive performance, Russell acknowledged that his team and others need to improve to compete with Red Bull.

Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull, argued that Verstappen’s quick lead was amplified by an error made by Hamilton. However, it is apparent, as observed in the first two races, that the RB19 can demonstrate a significantly greater advantage during the race than in the qualifying rounds.

In Melbourne, Verstappen had only qualified on pole by a small margin of a few tenths. However, there were signs that the RB19 had more to offer in the race. For example, Verstappen had a cautious start to the race, knowing that losing a position or two would not have been detrimental since he had a fast car.


After overtaking Hamilton, Verstappen demonstrated the full extent of his pace, with his next two laps being 0.5 seconds and 0.75 seconds faster, respectively. This display of speed allowed Verstappen to maintain a comfortable distance from Hamilton, and he was able to cruise to victory.

Following a virtual safety car period in the middle of the race, Verstappen increased his lead over the contenders for second place by around four tenths of a second per lap, which helped him build an 11-second gap.

Although he briefly went off-track due to a braking error at the penultimate corner, he maintained his lead. Verstappen did not push himself on the hard tyre; instead, he conserved the tires until the end due to the uncertainty caused by the rain-disrupted long runs on Friday.

Verstappen’s performance in Australia was similar to his pace management strategy in Bahrain, where the Red Bull team had to manage their pace due to concerns about reliability issues.

The goal in both races was to establish a comfortable advantage and handle the tires. Although Russell accused Red Bull of holding back, Horner denied the allegations and pointed out that Russell’s team is also acquainted with the strategy of pace management.

Horner acknowledged that tyre management is an integral part of any race and that it was a factor during the Australian Grand Prix, which was a one-stop race. Red Bull’s car is evidently designed to excel in races rather than in qualifying.

The team’s advantage on race days could be attributed to various factors, such as efficient energy deployment (which they can adjust freely), tyre usage, rivals’ struggle in dirty air, and the drivers keeping some pace in reserve since it is currently unnecessary to drive at 100% every lap.


Horner also referred to Sergio Perez’s efforts during the race as evidence that the RB19 did not have as significant an advantage as some suggest.

Checo had to start the race from the pitlane due to a qualifying crash but made his way through the field impressively. Horner highlighted that Perez was not holding back and clearly demonstrated that the team’s advantage was not as large as perceived.

Starting from the pitlane, Perez faced the challenge of making his way through the field on a circuit that is notoriously difficult to overtake, even with an advantage such as Red Bull’s.

The short lap with few corners compressed the field, making it challenging for Perez to make progress. Even in clean air, it took him longer than anticipated to close the gap to Lando Norris and overtake the McLaren, requiring 19 laps in the middle of the race.

However, it is more likely that Perez’s sub-par performance was due to his discomfort with the RB19 throughout the weekend rather than an issue with the car’s capability.

There have been instances in the history of Formula 1 where teams have been cautious about displaying their true level of dominance. Mercedes, for example, admitted to doing so in 2014, during the introduction of new rules and enforced changes.

This was to avoid an overreaction to their performance, as F1’s stakeholders have been known to adjust the rules to curb dominant teams. It is plausible that Red Bull is being prudent to some extent for similar reasons.


However, it is more likely that the team has simply not needed to unleash its full potential that often. Thus, it is unlikely that Red Bull is “embarrassed” to display its true capabilities.

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