The opportunity to beat Red Bull was short-lived, as Mas Verstappen claimed a commanding win in Suzuka. The Dutchman and his driving style are in perfect sync with the RB19. “I played paddle with Max on Wednesday, and he was really enthusiastic. He told me that he would have liked to win the Suzuka race with a 20-second lead,” Christian Horner revealed post-race.
“And in all honesty, he came within seven-tenths of that goal.” Japan was, therefore, a more ‘normal’ weekend. Verstappen is now very close to a third world title, dominating qualifying and the race. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez confirmed once again he struggles with Red Bull’s 2023 challenger.
Verstappen makes a statement at a perfect circuit for RB19
The beautiful Japanese circuit requires a complete car – with great efficiency and the ability to generate a lot of aerodynamic load and tackle the combination of medium and high-speed corners.
The right aeromechanical grip was fundamental in the race to look after the Pirelli tyres, which wore very quickly despite the hardest compounds (C1-C2-C3) being taken to Japan.
Red Bull’s strategy, together with Ferrari, was not the fastest. Using two sets of Mediums and only one set of Hards, the superiority of the RB19 allowed the Austrian and Italian teams to look after their tyres in relatively controlled stints.
The whole team, and in particular Max Verstappen, arrived at Suzuka to send a strong message to the competition and to those who had claimed that the KO in Singapore was due to the new directives introduced in the Asian country and that, as happened a year ago to Ferrari F1-75, would have crippled the RB19.
The doubts of the other teams, after what happened in Singapore, were certainly legitimate, but as Toto Wolff immediately said, “we too have had problems with dominant cars, and we haven’t yet understood why. I bet they don’t know either,” expecting Red Bull to return immediately.
While the Milton Keynes team attributed that disaster to a combination of many small factors, It immediately seemed strange and technically very unlikely that the two technical directives had lost more than a second from a car that had, up to that point, been practically perfect.
Some experts, unbalanced about how much the TD018 could be worth chronometrically, had indicated an estimated loss of one tenth.
A value that is certainly negligible given the advantage that the RB19 – Verstappen pairing had on average on the track, even if it was never fully shown.
There were fewer certainties regarding the fortified TD039, even if a technician we had consulted about it had immediately dampened our expectations.
Verstappen wanted to be a cannibal, not only winning but dominating the entire weekend and, according to his competitors, also revealing the true potential of the RB19 to erase any doubts regarding possible losses due to the directives.
Mclaren finished 20 seconds behind, with Ferrari 40 and Mercedes 50 seconds adrift. From a technical point of view, there are still rumours that Red Bull is limited by the two new DTs, but in a negligible manner compared to the advantage accumulated in this first season and a half of new regulations. However, Mercedes and Aston Martin would have been more affected.
Verstappen and Perez’s RB19 is the same, but Red Bull developed it for the world champion’s driving style
What continues to surprise is the gap that Max Verstappen constantly leaves behind teammate Sergio Perez.
A Mexican driver who experienced a new weekend of difficulties and embarrassing performances when compared to those of the Dutchman.
Without forgetting some negative episodes, such as the contact at the start after being overtaken by those who started close to him. Perez ended up caught in a vice between Ferrari and Mercedes, which caused his front wing to break and forced an early stop.
The was a perplexing one for Perez, never at the level not only of teammate Verstappen or even McLaren and Mercedes. Perez’s day worsened after making contact again with Magnussen, which led to further damage to the front wing and a further penalty.
He was then put back on the track, towards the end of the race, after initially retiring, to serve a time penalty – which cost Lando Norris more than 5 seconds.
When the Virtual Safety Car restarted, the McLaren driver found the Mexican’s RB19 in his path, and in doubt that he might get a penalty, Mclaren asked the FIA if he could proceed with the overtaking, but this made him lose a lot of ground (5 seconds ) from the now three-time world champion.
However, Red Bull did not help the Mexican driver with the development of the RB19. Without clearly questioning the quality of the material available to Perez, for most of the races of the same specification as Verstappen, the difference lies in the driver and his team.
It is well known that Red Bull prefers single-striker team management. Therefore, Max Verstappen certainly has the best team at his disposal, as evidenced by his performance.
Similar to what happens in Ferrari with Leclerc and Sainz, the Mexican prefers a more understeering car, while Verstappen wants a precise front – like Leclerc.
The RB19 was born with a stronger rear than the front, and at the beginning of the season, the Dutchman complained ‘a lot’ about it.
As in last season, Adrian Newey and his men intervened thanks to the planned development, favouring the driving style of their top driver.
The RB19 allowed him this, unlike the Ferrari SF-23, which still has too important limitations.
During the season, aerodynamic changes have moved the centre of pressure further forward, making the front more solid.
It’s no coincidence that as the races went by, we saw an RB19 loading up with its wings increasingly on the rear compared to the start of the season.
There was an incredible gap between the Red Bull drivers, especially in the fast sections of the Suzuka track. This is especially clear in the first sector, where Verstappen maximised the characteristics of his Red Bull car.
Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang