What Red Bull Problem Are McLaren Currently Talking About?


The 2023 Constructors Table, much like any other season, in the turbo-hybrid era of Formula 1 came to reveal a bit of a trend. And it wasn’t, despite the sheer thrilling and daredevil nature of the occupant of the top spot, something that would’ve surprised the fan.

It was the pretty simple realisation that Red Bull killed it, if slangs are permitted, much like they had back in the 2010 to 2013 fashion.

Surely, they may have been and are actually two different and peculiar drivers utterly different from one other but Max Verstappen has that commonality with Sebastian Vettel and it’s that Red Bull has been the epicentre of either driver’s triumphs.

Both supremely gifted drivers who leave-nothing-to-chance have had that one commonality that hasn’t changed whether one talks about the then back-in-the-day period or the one that is currently evident.

It’s that Red Bull were brilliant giving both blazing cars, leaving little to the imagination. But was that all? Was there another factor that was common in the 2010 years and as evident now?

Perhaps there was. And it’s that much like other string midfield, if not typically, high performing Constructors, McLaren were improving back then as they are now. While a lot of criticism comes Ferrari’s way and must in that they haven’t won a title in a decade and a half, McLaren, such a positive and progressive stable, too have found it difficult to become a thorn in the path of the top winner.

That’s whether it was Red Bull back in the pre turbo-hybrid era or the one witnessed later, where soon after Mercedes’ brilliant reign, Red Bull thanks to the car and Max Verstappen are back as rulers of F1 again!

In 2023, McLaren had a 104 point deficit to Ferrari and stood fourth on the Constructors; Ferrari scoring 406 points in their P3 standing. And despite the obvious green shoots and massive progress as seen in the way both Piastri and Norris drove, the old issue of being second in races but not winning a Grand Prix persisted.

This year brings a fresh new opportunity for the stable that has the legendary name of Bruce McLaren attached to it, a team for whom icons like Senna and Prost and as seen later, Hamilton and Alonso raced.

But then again, it appears that there’s a bit of a surprise advantage associated with Red Bull that McLaren are wary of. So what is it?

What worries McLaren about Red Bull in reference to 2024?

The following are excerpts from a statement that Zak Brown had to offer most recently:

“Clearly we want to continue to close the gap. We finished up last year as the second or third quickest team, depending on what circuit you were at. Car development has been strong, but Red Bull certainly seems like they didn’t develop last year to the level they could if they wanted to. So that could be an unpleasant surprise for all of us.” 

That said, even the great Andrea Stella shared Mr. Brown’s concern and had the following to share:

When we think specifically about Red Bull, there’s one element that obviously I think puts everyone in doubt as to what’s going to happen in 2024. It’s the fact that they haven’t developed their car very much [towards the end of last year]. 

“So, the question is, have they cashed in, and accumulated development that they will capitalise on to next year’s car? This is my theory. I can’t think that Red Bull were not in condition to develop their car, so they might have decided not to deliver upgrades. Certainly, this may mean that their gradient [of improvement] kept going.”


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