Reports of Red Bull’s reign of dominance over the 2023 season coming to an end have been greatly exaggerated. Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free In a year when competition between their rivals behind has been as unpredictable as it has been gripping, Red Bull have routinely rocked up to paddocks across the globe only to crush all opposition with near-militaristic execution. Then, in Singapore, a rare stumble from the world champions offered hope that the Red Bull giant could indeed be toppled. Yet six days later, Red Bull and Max Verstappen reminded everyone just how powerful a combination they are when they stormed to pole position in Suzuka by one of the biggest margins of the season – and the largest for nearly 20 years at the famous Japanese circuit. Not that it was of any surprise to their opposition. “Our internal messaging was ‘expect them to be back out front when we get back to Suzuka’,” admitted Mercedes’ trackside engineering director Andrew … [Read more...] about Verstappen sitting pretty but unexpectedly hot track could cook up drama
Suzuka’s high-speed corners amplified a weakness of Mercedes’ car and left their drivers on the fourth row of the grid over a second behind pole-winner Max Verstappen . Advert | Become a Supporter & go ad-free Lewis Hamilton said he made strides with his car’s set-up after a difficult Friday but could not overcome the shortcoming of its lack of rear-end grip. “Yesterday was a nightmare, not the kind of balance that you want on a track like this,” said Hamilton. “But we did some great work overnight, the car was feeling much nicer to drive today like it’s as good a balance as we could possibly get. “It’s just massively down on rear downforce, so we can’t carry anywhere near the speeds as these guys are carrying through that first sector.” Mercedes have found it consistently difficult to dial their car in from track to track this year. “We have a very peaky car,” said Hamilton. “When we talk about knife-edge [handling], it’s literally like trying to balance … [Read more...] about Suzuka layout ‘punishes’ Mercedes’ weakness in high-speed corners
After a "nightmare" Friday, Hamilton was much happier with his W14 thanks to overnight changes, but he still faced a tricky balance come qualifying. As high as fourth in Q2, Hamilton took seventh place in Q3, immediately ahead of team-mate George Russell . The outcome clearly benchmarked the Mercedes as the fourth-best car at Suzuka after the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari . Hamilton admitted that he couldn't have got any more out of the car after some set-up changes overnight. "I was really much, much happy with qualifying," he noted. "Yesterday, it started off looking like it was not going to be so great! But I think the set-up was in the right direction. And then from P3 to qualifying, I made another setup change. "And I was really happy with that. But just really hard to pull any more out of it. I'm already on the knife-edge with the rear end the whole way through the lap, all the way through." He added: "We have a very peaky car. When we talk about … [Read more...] about Hamilton: Lack of rear downforce leaves W14 on “knife-edge” at Suzuka
The iconic figure-of-eight track has always been punishing on its rubber, but things could well be a bit more extreme this time around. Race day is expected to be another scorcher, and complaints that George Russell mentioned on Friday about a "strange" sliding have been caused by a track surface that has had a 15% drop in macro roughness (so effective grip) compared to 12 months ago. As Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said: "Especially with the very warm temperatures this year, the overheating is really, really bad. So, I expect that it [the race] will be all about the tyre management and the strategy." A two-stopper looks nailed on then, but it comes with not all teams having the luxury of what appears to be the ideal tyre allocation to get them through without much drama. F1 tyre supplier Pirelli thinks the best approach to the race is to start on the soft, run through until laps 12-18, and then split the rest of the grand prix up into two hard stints. But that is … [Read more...] about Are Red Bull and Ferrari on back foot for potential Japanese GP tyre wrecker?
Qualifying day at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka brought yet another fast-paced day of F1 news and views. Max Verstappen claimed his latest inevitable pole position and then had a message for the people who assumed Red Bull had been found out by the Singapore GP technical directive, while Mercedes were once again plunged into crisis with Lewis Hamilton airing his frustrations. Just another standard F1 2023 day, then. Here’s today’s roundup… Max Verstappen’s ‘to whom it may concern’ moment As bite backs go, Verstappen’s message to his doubters wasn’t quite on the level of Valtteri Bottas’s famous Australia 2019 radio call, but it was a juicy one nonetheless. There were more than a few who wanted to believe Red Bull had finally been found out in Singapore last weekend, but pole position by sixth tenths at Suzuka was an emphatic response. So what exactly was Max’s message to those people? “Go suck on an egg.” He went on to explain how the reaction to Red Bull’s poor … [Read more...] about Max Verstappen bites back as Mercedes crisis continues – F1 news roundup