Red Bull's rivals expect immediate F1 bounce back at Suzuka

Formula 1 teams predict that Red Bull will bounce back immediately in the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix but reckon that its recent Singapore struggles were a “breath of fresh air”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

A raised ride height for the bumpy Marina Bay street circuit put the RB19 out of its comfort zone last weekend. Max Verstappen recovered from 11th to fifth as Sergio Perez scrapped to eighth.

That left the door open for Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz to lead Lando Norris to score an expertly controlled victory. In doing so, he ended Red Bull’s 100% win record so far this season.

But the grid believes this was only a blip for Red Bull and that a return to a conventional circuit at Suzuka this weekend will enable the RB19 to rediscover its set-up sweet spot.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, who reckoned the change in winner was a “breath of fresh air” for F1, said: “They have been so strong and that’s why they’ve won so many races this year. We must not forget that just because we have this outlier here in Singapore.

“I have no doubt they will be strong for the more conventional race tracks. But it is a breath of fresh air that we have a different winner and a podium without them, so we’ve got to take the small positives in a year of Red Bull dominance."

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Third-placed Lewis Hamilton reckoned it was “great” to see other teams in the form of Ferrari and McLaren leading the podium celebrations.

Sainz, meanwhile, said his team had made the most of a rare chance on offer at Singapore but expected Red Bull to return to winning ways.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, and George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, leads Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, and George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Mark Sutton

He said: “I wouldn't be surprised if they're still winning the last few races of the season.

“I think Singapore gave us the chance and we just did well. But I still think the Red Bull is going to be up there in the remainder of the season and they're going to be very, very, very, very difficult to beat.

“I just think it's great for F1 if Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Aston [Martin] would be that two, three-tenths quicker every race, to challenge them in race pace.

“But it's true that if Red Bull have nailed the car this year and they were doing such an amazing job they deserve to win everything that they're winning.”

Norris felt similar but said for Singapore at least, he had never seen a car as bad as the RB19 was in qualifying.

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He said: “I have dreamed a little bit but I'm sure [Red Bull are] going to be back on track next weekend.

“I don't know what they struggled with this weekend but when I watched [Verstappen’s] onboard, I kind of laughed because I've never seen a car that bad before. Max also laughed about it.

“So, we'll see next weekend. I think they'll probably be back at the top.”

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