Max Verstappen insists rivals Mercedes and Ferrari have bridged the gap to Red Bull this season


Max Verstappen believes Ferrari and Mercedes have improved significantly to bridge the gap to Red Bull in the lead-up to the 2023 F1 season.

Red Bull overcame initial reliability issues at the start of 2022 to storm their way to both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships with 17 wins in 2022 races.

Such was the magnitude of Verstappen’s dominance that the Dutchman won 15 races to set a new single-season record while also amassing the most points by a driver ever in a single campaign.

Ferrari floundered what appeared to be genuine title aspirations for the first time in years. Meanwhile, Mercedes were mired in mediocrity with the W13 for most of 2022, as they finished second and third in the standings, respectively.

Max Verstappen feels the title fight will not be as elementary this time around, as both Ferrari and Mercedes have worked hard in the off-season on their challengers for the campaign.

When asked about Ferrari’s prospects this season during a press conference ahead of the 2023 F1 Bahrain GP, where Sportskeeda was also present, the reigning two-time world champion said:

“At Ferrari they have focused enormously on being faster on the straights, but yes, because of that you lose in the corners. So time will tell what the right decision was. Obviously, you want to go fast on the straights, but you still have to have enough grip on a corner. You always have to try to find some balance.”

The 25-year-old believes both Ferrari and Mercedes have worked on engine reliability, and that could go a long way in improving their chances and even usurping Red Bull. He added:

“Everyone is supposed to have worked on engine reliability. We are doing well. Ferrari had to lower the engine a lot last year, and I think Mercedes also found something. So, I think the others have taken a step forward in this area. Maybe even more than us in terms of pure power, but in the end most of the performance has to come from the single-seater.”

Max Verstappen remains tight-lipped on RB19’s chances to replicate its predecessor’s success

Max Verstappen was relatively coy about his and Red Bull’s chances in 2023 with the RB19 after a dominant showing from its predecessor, the RB18.

After a record-breaking season that saw him win his second Drivers’ World Championship title while catapulting Red Bull to their first Constructors’ crown since 2013, Verstappen is expected to continue performing at this exalted level.

Heading into pre-season testing in Bahrain ahead of the first race in 2023, the double-world champion is optimistic about what he can achieve without being carried away just yet.

In a press release issued by Red Bull, Max Verstappen said:

“I’m feeling nice and relaxed heading into the 2023 season. I had a good break and prepared well this year. Time is so limited at testing so hopefully, we have some solid days without too many issues, it’s important to have smooth sessions.”

The Dutchman went on to add:

“The Team have worked hard over the winter and I hope the RB19 is another good car to challenge up at the front with but time will tell.”

Max Verstappen was forced to retire from last year’s Bahrain GP after serving up brilliant wheel-to-wheel action for most of the race with Charles Leclerc.

Should he win this year’s season opener, he will be the first driver since Nico Rosberg in 2015-2016 to finish an F1 season and start the subsequent campaign with consecutive wins.

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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