Dark
Light
Red Bull's F1 Rivals Close Gap in Qualifying

Red Bull’s F1 Rivals Close Gap in Qualifying

02/03/2024

In the latest F1 qualifiers, Red Bull faces stiff competition as Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren show promising pace, setting the stage for a closely contested Bahrain GP.

Is Red Bull finally within reach of Ferrari, Mercedes F1, or even McLaren?

Part of the answer was provided yesterday: in qualifications, that’s certainly the case. Charles Leclerc even posted the absolute fastest time of the session, but that was in Q2. In Q3, the Monegasque failed to replicate the same effort.

Bahrain GP: Red Bull’s Pace Questioned

As for the rest of the answer, it will come today, starting at 4 PM, with the start of the Bahrain GP. Everyone anticipates a race pace advantage still for Red Bull, but what will its extent be? Likely smaller than last year, according to Frédéric Vasseur, the Scuderia’s director, reflecting on these qualifications.

“We were leading in Q1 and Q2, which suggests we could have been first in Q3, but things didn’t go very well as we failed to get everything right on the last lap. But generally, our performance was encouraging as we were in the pace throughout the sessions.”

“It was only the first stage of the weekend; now we will see in the race what the situation will be on the long stints. As we have been saying since the start of the weekend, it is very difficult to interpret winter testing and we are still in the dark about fuel levels.”

“From what we have seen so far, it’s possible that this year Red Bull might not have the kind of comfort zone it had last year, and maybe more teams could put pressure on them when decisions related to strategy or even settings have to be made.”

Teams Adapt Strategy for Race Success

“Looking ahead to the race, we will first focus on ourselves: we want to check if the car is more consistent in terms of tire degradation, which seems to be the case, and then we will see what we can bring home. The first goal is to leave no points on the table.”

At Mercedes F1, drivers conceded yesterday that the settings were more race-oriented, which is reassuring for their outright performance in qualifications.

For Toto Wolff, team director, “On Thursday, we looked slightly better than in qualifications in terms of our performance on a single lap. We intentionally tried to prepare the car for the race, so we hope we will be in a better position for the Grand Prix.”

“The setup changes we made certainly contributed to our performance drop. At the beginning of the times, we wondered if we had sacrificed too much for the race, but in the end, it wasn’t too bad. George’s third place is a good starting point, but we are still three-tenths off the pole position.”

Verstappen Leads, Rivals Close Gap

Behind Verstappen, the gaps are tight with several other teams. Just a few tenths make a big difference. These are razor-thin margins, and if you make even small gains, then you are right.

“We hope the race will be somewhat better but we are still learning a lot about this car.”

How does Red Bull analyze the situation? Naturally, they continue to praise the Max Verstappen factor for keeping them ahead.

“On a single lap, we now have several teams that can beat us. We’ve struggled a bit more this year here; it’s cooler, there’s more wind, we had to work over two days, and Max saved us. As expected, Leclerc was fast in qualifications. And even if Max didn’t drive optimally in the third sector, it was still enough for pole. A good start. He got the pole but made me lose 50 euros to Lambiase because I had bet on Leclerc for the pole.”

“Now, we know our long runs are relatively better than our single-lap performance. That’s why we can be quite justifiably optimistic for the race.”

Perez Faces Tight Battle in F1

The concern for Red Bull is that with tighter margins, it will still be complicated for Sergio Perez.

“He’s only two or three tenths off Max and even closer on the long runs. That’s good by his standard. If he can maintain that, we will be satisfied. We are very pleased with Sergio’s fifth place. You can overtake on this track, so I’m looking forward to the race with optimism.”

However, Marko admitted that even though Verstappen is clearly the favorite to win on Saturday, Perez can expect “a tough battle with Mercedes, Ferrari, and also Fernando Alonso.”

Asked about the qualifying gap of four-tenths between Verstappen and Perez, team boss Christian Horner said, “That’s fine. It’s a long lap here and the field is very tight – there’s just a little over a tenth between 3rd and 7th place. Checo is in a good position, and he can make a good race from there.”

Red Bull’s F1 Rivals Close Gap in Qualifying F1 2024. Red Bull’s F1 Rivals Close Gap in Qualifying F1 2024.

Next Race
Hungarian GP18 Jul - 21 Jul
Time
UK
FP112:30
FP24:00
FP311:30
QU3:00
Race 2:00
Upcoming Events
Date Race
21 JULHUNGARIAN GP
28 JULBELGIAN GP
25 AUGDUTCH GP
01 SEPTITALIAN GP
15 SEPTAZERBAIJAN GP

Newsletter

Go toTop