Red Bull reach new heights with 100th pole – Horner should savour dominance while it lasts

Red Bull reached an important milestone in China after Max Verstappen's pole position, with their dominance more clear than ever

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Red Bull haven’t won many fans with their continued dominance of Formula 1 since the arrival of the 2022 regulations, but securing their 100th pole position at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix is an achievement even their detractors cannot talk down.

This year, they have taken their qualifying dominance to another level, with Verstappen maintaining his 100 per cent record with five poles from five races in Shanghai.

He only managed 12 in the entirety of last year, and yet still cruised to 19 race victories. If that isn’t an ominous sign for what the rest of the season could look like, or even 2025, then what is?

If Verstappen genuinely is much faster in qualifying this year – and his five-tenth gap to the rest of the grid in China suggests he is – it won’t be long until they have their 200th in their sights.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

They are still some way short of Mercedes, who have racked up 137 pole positions thanks to their qualifying master Lewis Hamilton, who has 104 to his name alone throughout his 17-year career. And at the top of the pile sit Ferrari, who will take some catching with 249 on their record, with McLaren next on 156.

While the Scuderia have been involved in the sport for nearly 80 years, Red Bull’s participation only began in 2005 when they bought out the financially-crippled Jaguar F1 team.

Likewise, Mercedes have been in and out of the sport and existed long before Hamilton and Nico Rosberg enjoyed their dual domination of the sport between 2014 and 2020. So for Red Bull to bounce back to reach a century of poles in such a short space of time is mightily impressive.

Why Red Bull should savour their achievement

Christian Horner won’t need reminding that success is periodic in F1. After all, he’s lived through one golden era already when Sebastian Vettel won four straight drivers’ titles between 2010 and 2013, with Mark Webber’s efforts helping the team secure the constructors’ in all four seasons as well. Then he had to sit back and wait while Mercedes took control.

But this is a whole new level for Red Bull. After winning 24 out of the last 26 races – and all but one in the entire 2023 campaign – the Austrian team are far and away the quickest on the grid. If this continues until the end of the 2025 season, it won’t be long before they catch McLaren and Mercedestallies.

Across one lap, the other drivers almost have to rely on Verstappen making an error (rare) or Red Bull suffering a technical failure (very rare) to even get close to snatching pole position – and it’s even worse during the race.

Red Bull’s poles by driver

DriverPeriodPoles
Sebastian Vettel2008 – 201544
Max Verstappen2016 – Present37
Mark Webber2007 – 201313
Sergio Perez2021 – Present3
Daniel Ricciardo2014 – 20183

But Horner will know just how close he came to everything crashing and burning in front of him only a few months ago. From his internal investigation – of which he was cleared by Red Bull’s parent company – to his fallout with Jos Verstappen, it has been a turbulent time for the 50-year-old.

Horner has been there since day one with the Milton Keynes outfit – and it is widely accepted it wouldn’t exist in its current form without his input. At the same time, he has been made to look expendable by a team who seem to value Verstappen and chief designer Adrian Newey just as highly.

He is no longer untouchable and, even with the support of Red Bull’s Thai owner Chalerm Yoovidhya, he could be on borrowed time. With new regulations coming in 2026, it may be time for another team to take the lead.

Reaching 100 poles with a front-row lockout is the best gift he could have asked for, knowing all too well that Verstappen, Newey and more vital members of the team may leave in the not-too-distant future. It is yet another feather in the cap for Horner, and if there is change in the coming months or years at Red Bull, his legacy for success is written in the history books.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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