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Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Rise of Red Bull: A New Era in Formula 1

A Look Back at 2021

The Formula 1 season of 2021 was gearing up for its last race, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It was a dramatic climax to a title showdown. With six laps to go, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was leading the race, on course to win his eighth championship. Then, everything changed. A late safety car entered the race, Verstappen pitted for fresh tires, and the rest, as they say, is history. Max Verstappen won his first world championship title amid much controversy. He and Red Bull haven’t looked back since then.

Comparing 2021 and 2023

If you compare the 2021 and the 2023 Grand Prix, they have very little in common, except the result. Max Verstappen won the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as well. But it wasn’t some championship-winning showdown. In fact, Verstappen had already sealed the championship in Qatar almost two months back. So this was just another race, a mere formality according to him.

Redbull F1 Max Win

Record-Breaking Season

The 2023 season has been unbelievable, incredible, and a lot of fun for Verstappen. Another race to shatter some records this season, and he has had plenty of them in 2023. Just look at the numbers. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was Verstappen’s 19th victory this season. 19 wins in 22 races, that is a landmark statistic. But the Red Bull driver made it look like a breeze. And it’s not the only record he broke. There were many more:

  • Most points in a season: 575
  • Most consecutive wins: 10
  • Most podiums in a season: 21
  • Most hat tricks in a season: 6 on the trot
  • Largest margin of Championship Victory: 290

The one stat that is truly mind-blowing is the number of laps Max has led this season. It’s a staggering number, 1,003 out of 1,325. That is 75.7% of the entire year. The list is truly never-ending.

The New Era of Formula 1

That’s how the new era of Formula 1 looks like, a dominant Red Bull followed by others trying to play catchup. It was a bit emotional on the end lap. It was the last time Verstappen was sitting in the car which has given him a lot. He is, of course, very proud to win also here in the last race. But he has to say a big thank you to everyone at Red Bull. It’s been an incredible year. It will be hard to do something similar again, but they definitely enjoyed this year.

The Predictable Script

What a year it’s been! The once exhilarating world of Formula 1, though, has become a predictable script. Red Bull is playing the lead role, and the others are struggling to keep pace with the raging bull. Gone are the days of fierce battles, the nail-biting overtakes, and the unpredictable outcomes that kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Now, it’s more like a Red Bull parade. It’s no longer about a slight pace deficit. Now, it is no matter who takes the pole on Saturday, the Dutch anthem will play on the podium on Sunday.

The Era of Dominance

But this sort of domination is not new. Many teams have had their purple patch across multiple Formula 1 seasons. Take 1984 to 1998, McLaren and Williams were winning all races. They each won seven championships. Then there was Ferrari. The prancing horse dominated from 1999 to 2008. Red Bull had a dream run between 2010 and 2013. And then there were the Silver Arrows. Mercedes took Formula 1 by storm, dominating from 2014 right up to 2021. So, Red Bull doing it now isn’t strange. The excitement of unpredictability, though, has been replaced by the fear of certainty. Will Red Bull win the next race? Spoiler alert, they most probably will. But has it taken away the thrill of Formula 1? Is Formula 1, dare I say, boring?

The Regulations Change

A lot of that had to do with the regulations changing in 2022. It was to close up the field, to encourage wheel-to-wheel racing. But what it did, in fact, is usher in a new era of dominance. The era of Red Bull and Max Verstappen in the driver’s seat. It is not even a surprise anymore that they are miles ahead of others, and every other team knows that. Red Bull knew how to get the best out of the 2022 regulations, and it seems like no other team on the grid has nailed that just yet, including Mercedes.

The Other Teams

Let’s look at them for just a bit. They may have won second place in the Constructors Championship, but this season is likely to be a lot of soul-searching for them, especially for the lead driver, Lewis Hamilton. In 2021, he was six laps away from winning the Grand Prix, six laps away from the elusive eighth world championship title. But in 2023, he is finishing in the ninth position, fighting his own battles as Mercedes calls it, with reports of Hamilton unhappy with the model and a few tiffs within the team making more of the headlines.

Then there’s Ferrari. They put everything into the races, but what was missing was strategy, a better car, and frankly, luck. Because Charles Leclerc may have made it to the pole multiple times, but at the end of the day, it was Max Verstappen on the podium.

The Future

So, will this dream run continue in 2024? Well, it’s likely to. We could be up for another season of Red Bull charge unless some other team cracked the code. The code to get a better car. The code to get some excitement back into Formula 1. Until then, the only plot twist we can hope for is the lack of wings at the Red Bull Factory.

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