'We're different to other teams': Red Bull closing on F1's old guard after 100th win


Even rivals can't help but admire Red Bull's runaway success after its 100th GP win in Canada, with Lewis Hamilton describing its performance as "amazing". There's no sign of change either, writes Chris Medland with talk growing of an unbeaten 2023 season

Verstappen Canada win 2023

Red Bull are currently the moment dominant F1 team around - but for how long?

Getty Images

Dominance can provoke a number of different reactions in people, but it’s quite often apathy that comes to the fore.

We watch sport for excitement, drama and competition. When one team operates at such a high level that it doesn’t appear to be much of a competition, then something feels like its lacking. But there still tend to be moments that can make you stop in admiration, and Red Bull achieved one on Sunday.

100 race wins is an incredible number to hit. Of course with more races per season there are more opportunities to win races quickly, but the fact that the four iconic teams ahead of Red Bull’s current win total are all still competing shows that there is one team right now that is doing the job better than everyone else.

Max Verstappen at 2023 Canadian Grand Prix

Red Bull has won the last ten F1 grands prix, extending from last season’s finale in Abu Dhabi

Getty Images via Red Bull

Cost cap discontentment will continue to hang over the current generation of car, but whether you feel the overspend was big enough to account for the entirety of Red Bull’s advantage or not, it’s hardly a surprise that this team is capable of such success based on recent history.

Based on Formula 1’s entirety, it is more surprising. Especially when you think of how unusual the arrival of Dietrich Mateschitz’s brand as a full constructor seemed nearly two decades ago.

Related article

“He wanted to do things differently,” team principal Christian Horner said of the late Mateschitz’s aims for the team in 2005. “He wanted to be different, he didn’t want to be a corporate team where you needed 25 passes to get into the motorhome. So he introduced the Energy Station, he introduced the Red Bulletin – he wanted it to be fun.

“But he was also competitive and he wanted to compete and he wanted to win. I remember the first year, Jaguar had scored nine points in 2004 and he gave me the target of scoring 12 in that first season. We scored 34.

“He was a racer, he was a fan of Formula 1 and passionate about the sport. Of course Formula 1 for him and for Red Bull was a great way of marketing their brand and their product.”

Rewind to 2005 and it will have been harder to convince anyone that Red Bull was going to be a serious contender. In a sport that was becoming ever-more professional, the marketing side was seen as the driving force behind it. And then came Adrian Newey’s signing.

Verstappen Hamilton Alonso Newey Canada 2023

The maker of champions: Newey completes iconic podium

Getty Images

It’s fitting that Newey was the person chosen to represent Red Bull on the podium in Montreal, creating an iconic image alongside Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

It is Hamilton and Mercedes who are now the meat in the sandwich that is Red Bull’s dominant spells, with victories from Newey-inspired cars relatively equally spilt between the 2009-13 era and the past three years.

The 50th win came courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo in Belgium in 2014, one of just three wins that year, and there would be just 14 across the next six seasons. I say “just”, but that’s a tally that was only bettered by two teams in the same period: Ferrari won three more races, while Mercedes set an incredible benchmark.

Related article

It perhaps explains why Mercedes has in recent months talked about the job being done by Red Bull and how impressive it is. With 116 wins since 2010 for Toto Wolff’s team, Red Bull still has a way to go to overhaul its tally of 125 in total, but is closing in and performing at a level that Hamilton knows is so tough to maintain.

“It’s not a frustration anymore, if it ever was,” Hamilton says of Verstappen’s dominance. “You know how it is, and you know what you’re faced with, and there’s nothing I can do about their amazing performance.

“It’s likely that they will win every race, moving forwards this year, unless the Astons and us put a lot more performance on the cars, or their car doesn’t finish. It’s not easy with the regulations to find the amount of performance that they have, advantage-wise. They’ve got to be 30 [aerodynamic] points up on us in certain points through the lap and we’ve got some work to do.

“But it’s not that it’s frustrating … I’m happy to firstly be back in the mix and I’m just hoping at some stage we can have it all a little bit more level so we can get back to some of the good races we had back in 2021. And to have all three of us [including Alonso] in a super-tight battle would be sick.”

Verstappen Hamilton Alonso Canada 2023

With 11 F1 titles combined, Verstappen, Hamilton and Alonso may still have the chance to fight between themselves for more

Based on Montreal, Hamilton’s wish doesn’t seem all that far away, with Aston Martin and Mercedes appearing as close as ever. However, the conditions in Canada left Red Bull particularly vulnerable and there was still no stopping Verstappen. It’s still premature to predict what might happen by the end of the season, but talk of an unprecendented complete sweep of victories by Red Bull in 2023 is only growing.

Related article

“We’re focused very much on one race at a time and to have got this far and have won 17 out of the last 18 races for us is a phenomenal performance,” Horner says. “We’re just going one race [at a time], trying to extract the most out of the car, out of the team, out of the drivers, and that’s how we will continue through this season. Then the statistics tend to take care of themselves.”

That more dominant cars – such as the early V6 era Mercedes – failed to achieve that feat shows just how unlikely it is Red Bull will even get close. But the fact that it’s being suggested shows not only how quick the RB19 is, but also the strength of both Verstappen and the team behind him.

For Horner, it’s a culture that is the secret to a racing record that currently boasts victories in just over 28% of the grands prix Red Bull has entered.

“It’s the people. It’s the spirit. It’s the culture. It’s the attitude that we have. It’s the way that we go about racing. It’s the desire. It’s the passion. It’s the commitment. It’s all of those aspects, because when you work for a team like Red Bull it’s clear what our goal is.

“We want to win and we want to be competitive and everybody gives their best and they buy into that and you feel that energy in the factory. It’s a culture that we have which is that we’re different to other teams. It’s a racing team – it’s just a big racing team.”

Red Bull Team Photo Canada

Red Bull has quickly become of the most successful teams of any F1 era

That might be too simplistic, because there’s no doubting the drive and determination of so many of Red Bull’s rivals. But Newey’s brilliant mind is one of many, and it has created a car that is allied to perhaps the best power unit and a trackside engineering team that never lost its edge.

Right now those aspects are powering a driver who is being spoken about among the greats, and it makes for an almost unbeatable cocktail.

Almost. Someone will beat it soon, they always do. And that’s what makes the win tally so impressive.