2022 was a sensational season for Max Verstappen and Red Bull, with the Dutchman having defended his 2021 Drivers’ Championship with relative ease.
After a tight title battle in 2021 against Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen cruised to the crown last season, after smashing multiple records along the way.
The imperious Dutchman broke the records for most wins and most points scored in a single season, both of which were previously held by former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.
Verstappen blitzed the German’s records, by claiming 15 wins and 454 points last season, further writing his name into the sport’s history books.
Defending his crown once again in 2023, though, looks set to be an immense challenge, with Ferrari reportedly having designed a truly phenomenal car.
The Italians have supposedly fixed their reliability issues and have increased their engines performance by 30hp, with the team’s simulations suggesting that their 2023 challenger will be a second faster than the F1-75.
Verstappen and Red Bull also have the small matter of their budget cap penalty to deal with in 2023, with the FIA having fined the Austrians $7 million and reduced their permitted aerodynamic research by 10-percent for 12 months for breaching the 2021 cap.
The reduction in permitted aerodynamic research will hurt the Austrians mid-season, as they’ll have less time in the windtunnel to design potential upgrades.
This could result in Red Bull failing to make huge improvements in the latter stages of the season, with the side having designed the bulk of their 2023 car before their penalty was implemented.
Ferrari and Mercedes will have an advantage therefore when it comes to aerodynamic upgrades; however, Verstappen has admitted that the Milton Keynes-based team are unsure just “how much” their punishment will affect them.
“Well, I mean, it will affect us, but how much? I don’t know yet,” said Verstappen, per Formula1.com.
“I’m confident that the team, and the people we have, can use that as extra motivation to try and do even better. I know, of course, they always give their best.
“But we have a very competitive car, we have a lot of great ideas, I think, already for next year as well with the car, and hopefully it’s going to be enough.”