Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber believes “nobody knows” how much Red Bull will suffer this season as a result of the punishment they were awarded for breaching the 2021 budget cap, with Webber expecting the Austrians to “keep things running smoothly”.
2023 looks set to be a much more challenging season for Red Bull and for double World Champion Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman set to have to fight both Ferrari and Mercedes drivers to claim a third consecutive title.
Verstappen was unbeatable last year, with the 25-year-old having broken the records for most wins and most points accumulated in a single campaign.
The Red Bull driver has admitted himself that the competition next year will be fiercer; however, Webber is certain that the Milton Keynes-based outfit will be the “most dangerous” come the start of the new season.
“I think that is especially very polite of Max,” Webber told Motorsport.com.
“I still think Red Bull will again be the most dangerous team at the start of the season.
“They gave a kind of clinic to the others. Once Max got comfortable in the car there was no stopping the rest at all.
“Red Bull as a team quickly got to grips with the reliability problems they had at the beginning of last season. Consistency was the biggest problem for opponents. Red Bull was actually strong on every [tyre] compound at the end, strong on high-downforce circuits and strong on low-downforce circuits.
“They had no real weakness left and Max as an individual I don’t think has any weakness at all, so they did give the competition some headaches.
“For Max, it was at times Formula 1 Plus in the past year. Spa was the highlight for me, how he sliced through the field there.”
Whilst Red Bull might start 2023 as the strongest team, they will likely struggle to make the same sort of progress throughout the year that they managed in 2022, given their 10-percent reduction in permitted aerodynamic research.
This will have an impact on the development of their 2023 challenger; the issue is though, no one knows just how much they’ll be impacted.
“Nobody knows that at the moment,” added the Aussie.
“But I’m pretty sure they have enough capable and creative people there to keep things running smoothly.
“Furthermore, of course, we also don’t know whether Mercedes has really given up on anything in the past year. Giving up is actually not quite the right word, as it’s always about learning for the next year. But the main question is how they divided the R&D capabilities and under the budget cap also the money between last year and the upcoming season.
“In that respect, it will again be fascinating to see how the first quarter of this season will go.”