Ayrton Senna is comfortably leading the 1988 Italian Grand Prix with just two laps to go, only to be inadvertently wiped out by backmarker Jean Louis Schlesser.
Senna’s retirement was Ferrari’s gain as Gerhard Berger led home teammate Michele Alboreto to record a famous one-two in front of the Tifosi just days after Enzo Ferrari’s passing.
It also ended McLaren’s chances of winning every race in 1988, but Senna and Alain Prost won 15 out of the 16 races, comfortably wrapping up both championships.
Fast forward 35 years, and Red Bull have been in a class of their own with a 100 percent win record and already have one index finger on the Formula 1 driver and constructor titles.
But could Red Bull do what McLaren failed to achieve and win every race? Here’s why they can.
Huge Straight line speed advantage
Like in 1988, Honda produced an engine that is the strongest in F1, giving Red Bull a significant advantage on tracks that favour straight-line speed.
Take Baku, for example, as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were able to reel in Charles Leclerc after less than ten laps because of a straight line speed advantage of over 20mph with DRS.
This contributes to a gap over two to three-tenths during qualifying, which may not seem like much on paper, but it’s a big gap in a tight pack usually separated by over one to two seconds.
Two top drivers in superb form
Although Perez and Verstappen aren’t as closely matched as Prost and Senna, they have run their competitors into the dust, winning all but one race since the 2022 French GP.
Since 2021, Verstappen has been a class above his rivals and is highly versatile in all aspects of racecraft, from tyre management to treacherous track conditions.
Perez has been extremely strong on street circuits and is capable of dominating or helping his teammate from the opposition, making him a perfect team player for Red Bull.
Versatile car which is bulletproof on every track
McLaren’s MP4/4 was known for being ruthlessly quick on all tracks despite stiff competition from the normally aspirated cars on less power-orientated circuits.
Red Bull’s RB19 is cut from the same cloth as on every type of circuit F1 have raced on so far in 2023, it has been the car to beat, strong in tight corners and long as well as short straights.
Reliability is also a strong suit, as although Red Bull had some teething issues, they’re one of only two teams to have both cars finish every race.
Competitors lagging behind
Red Bull is in a class of their own, but it’s hard not to address the struggles of its rivals, as only Aston Martin have been able to compete with them during 2023.
Despite showing some promise, Ferrari hasn’t had the pace to challenge, and Mercedes is in an even worse position than they were in 2022.
McLaren had their own way in 1988, too, as Ferrari couldn’t keep up with its poor fuel consumption whilst reigning constructors champions Williams were limited by their Judd engines before switching to Renault for 1989.
No one can stop Verstappen and Perez from making it a clean sweep
Teams may bring upgrades when they return to Europe, but both titles seem destined to extend their stays in Milton Keynes.
Verstappen and Perez are driving at the top of their games, and it seems Red Bull is holding something back regarding outright speed.
Winning 23 races will be an arduous task if Red Bull continues to develop their car, the following races may be a foregone conclusion before even a practice session begins.