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Red Bull surprised by how F1 rivals have "underdelivered" in 2023

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says his team has been "surprised" by the way that key Formula 1 rivals have "underdelivered" so far in 2023.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523

Red Bull has dominated the season so far, with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez sharing in four one-two finishes, and only missing out on another in Australia, where problems for the Mexican in qualifying saw him recover to fifth at the flag.

Horner says that Red Bull made the progress "that you would expect" from its 2022 model to this year's car, while rivals – essentially traditional frontrunners Ferrari and Mercedes – have failed to keep up.

"You can never write anybody off," Horner said. "And I think it's been the best start that we've had.

"We feel that we've made a good step from RB18 into 19, but the kind of step that you would expect, I think it's more that it feels like others have lost ground.

"I'm sure that they're working hard to address that. So big gains could come quite quickly."

However, Horner cautioned that rivals could still catch up, with the next race in Imola seeing a round of upgrades from most teams.

"I think it's surprised us that the others have perhaps underdelivered compared to where they were last year," he noted.

"But no doubt they will be looking to address that. I'm sure, starting in Imola, we're going to see big updates starting to come through.

"We've got a great car, we've got a great team, we've got two great drivers. But still a long way to go. Let's reserve judgement until after we see what they turn out with Imola and Barcelona."

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, for the lead of the race

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, for the lead of the race

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

Verstappen stressed that the team is benefiting mainly from superior long-run performance, with Ferrari often showing good speed in qualifying.

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"I think we have a decent advantage, especially in the race," said the Dutchman.

"I think over one lap in some tracks, definitely some cars will be close or in front, like you could see in Baku.

"That race pace advantage, I think is quite big at the moment. But it's not like the others are bringing new bits and we're just standing still. So hopefully we can just keep it going like we're doing now."

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