Red Bull experienced their first defeat of 2023 in Singapore, failing to put the RB19 in its ideal operating window. The Austrian team even resorted to removing its floor update for the Grand Prix in an effort to understand their issues better. In Japan, they will hope to put those problems behind them.
It was an unusual weekend for Christian Horner’s team, who found themselves in uncharted territory last time out. Despite various tweaks to set-up and car specification, Red Bull was unable to challenge for victory.
A double Q2 elimination was a knockout blow to their chances of retaining their race-winning streak. However, perhaps the more pressing concern was the handling of the RB19.
To be clear, several factors contributed to the team’s underwhelming qualifying session. Perez experienced an engine issue that ruined his second attempt, whilst a scruffy lap from Verstappen put Q3 beyond reach.
Their race pace was still relatively uninspiring, but Verstappen’s final stint of mediums was proof that performance was still attainable in the car. As such, their problematic weekend should be taken with a pinch of salt.
There is also insufficient evidence – at least for now – to suggest that the latest FIA Technical Directive has punished the RB19 more than its rivals.
Japan’s Suzuka circuit should be better suited to Red Bull’s car, and three practice sessions should give them enough time to find their operating window.
Red Bull is preparing to re-introduce their latest floor update in Suzuka after being forced to remove it and start from scratch last weekend. Therefore, all the ingredients are in place for normal service to be resumed.
Still, the resurgence of rivals cannot be overlooked. McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are all legitimate threats – especially if the Austrian outfit qualifies poorly.
The margin for errors has shrunk as the likes of McLaren have introduced upgrades in the final rounds of 2023, and upgrade Red Bull cannot afford with its wind tunnel restrictions.
Japan is highly regarded amongst drivers and fans alike, so this weekend promises to build upon the excitement of the Grand Prix in Zandvoort, Monza and Singapore:
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang