New Williams team principal James Vowles doesn’t believe Red Bull “will dominate all through the season”; however, he does expect the Austrians to be the fastest.
Red Bull started 2023 emphatically, with double world champion Max Verstappen having dominated the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Pérez claimed a comfortable second for the Austrians at the Bahrain International Circuit, to give the Milton Keynes-based team the perfect start to the year.
With Red Bull having looked so strong, many have already written the title off, with the Austrians having looked unstoppable.
Vowles, though, sees things slightly differently, with the former Mercedes senior figure expecting Ferrari and Mercedes to get “a lot closer” to the reigning world champions as the season develops.
“Do I think Red Bull will dominate all through the season? No, I doubt it,” Vowles said.
“I think you’ll see Ferrari a lot closer to them here, and it’d be tracks like Silverstone, Barcelona, where Mercedes will be mighty as a result of what I know of their package.
“However, on balance across the season, do I think they’re the fastest? Yes.
“But they still have a wind tunnel deficit,” Vowles said, in reference to Red Bull’s wind tunnel penalty.
“It’s not as big as I necessarily think it should be to balance things out, but it’s still there, and it will still mean across the season that you’ll see other people moving towards them.
“And with the rules carrying over to next year, you have to keep developing this car, so things will close up.”
Verstappen’s cruise to victory in Bahrain has seen some predict that 2023 will be a boring season, with the opening day at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix having also suggested that the Dutchman will be the likely favourite for victory.
Vowles again, though, doesn’t believe Verstappen cruising to victories will make for a boring season, with their being other battles throughout the field.
“What makes an exciting championship? For me, you need odd races, not necessarily every single race, where there’s competition, and you can’t predict who’s going to win the race, and I think you will see that this season,” Vowles added.
“As long as, on average at most tracks, you have a fight between two gladiators properly duking it out, rather than what happened in Bahrain, where Verstappen was just cruising, then you’re not damaging the championship at all.
“If we have 20-odd races like that, clearly, it won’t help our championship, but I don’t think that’s what we’re going to have.”