Max Verstappen and Red Bull enter Formula 1 2023 with a target on their back as they look to repeat their achievements from last year.
Red Bull will be handicapped in the wind tunnel for breaking the budget cap rules in 2021 and are expecting a serious challenge from Ferrari and Mercedes.
Sergio Perez will spend his third season alongside Verstappen, whilst Daniel Ricciardo will be the team’s reserve driver.
Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam Dickinson, Andrew Wright, Ed Spencer and Nigel Chiu take a look at what to expect from Red Bull in 2023.
Adam Dickinson: Verstappen is the fastest driver in racing
It’s really hard to bet against Red Bull. On paper, the cost cap penalties should bite and will continue to hinder development throughout the season.
Given the consistency in the regulations from 2022, Ferrari and Mercedes should be able to close the gap regardless of that hindrance, and I don’t expect Red Bull to repeat their record-breaking exploits.
However, Verstappen is the fastest driver in racing and they remain unbeaten at consistently making the right calls on race day, led by Chief Strategist Hannah Schmitz.
They will enter the season as the team to beat and ahead of testing Verstappen remains my favourite for the World Championship.
Nigel Chiu: Verstappen’s 2022 mistakes will prove more costly
There is no partnership better than Verstappen and Red Bull at the moment which could make them unbeatable over the course of 23 races.
On the technical side, Red Bull so often get the aerodynamics and chassis of the car right and the engine freeze in F1 means they shouldn’t be behind on power compared to their rivals. This is the first machine they have ever built without any Dan Fallows influence though.
I don’t think they will have it anywhere near as easy as last year though and feel some of the small errors Verstappen made in 2022, such as his spins in Spain or Hungary, will prove more costly.
Throw in the caveat of less wind tunnel time and Red Bull, I believe, will be vulnerable in the second half of the season, so they will need a points buffer.
As for Perez, there will be more reliance on him getting on the podium to stop the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers from scoring more points. He’s done so well against the mighty Verstappen but there is growing pressure on him which could find him out.
The Mexican may have a contract for 2024, but we all know signed pieces of paper aren’t definitive in sport.
Andrew Wright: Scary prospect for everyone else
Red Bull stole a march on the opposition in 2022 thanks in no small part to the genius that is Adrian Newey.
In the hands of Verstappen, a Newey car, with an established advantage, it’s a pretty scary prospect. I expect the reigning champions to pick up where they left off in 2023, despite the restrictions on wind tunnel time.
The only potential chink in the armour is Perez. If his level drops, and the Mercedes combine more speed with the same kind of reliability, the constructors’ championship could come down to the wire.
I think Verstappen will win comfortably, so some drama in the team battle would be welcome.
Ed Spencer: Little pressure on Verstappen’s shoulders
2022 was a year for the ages for Red Bull and Verstappen, with a dominant season which saw them annihilate the field despite off-track controversies.
The new year has already seen the reigning champions hit the headlines securing a deal with Ford, whilst on the drivers front, Verstappen and Perez have seemingly patched up their differences from Brazil.
It will be hard to top last year, but Verstappen goes into the year at the top of his game, and with his critics seemingly silenced, he has very little pressure on his shoulders.
For Perez, 2022 saw him continuously improve but yet he was unable to deny his team leader the championship. 2023 will be his penultimate chance, and even then, it won’t be any easier than last year.
Barring a potential internal team feud, all looks rosy for the defending champions.