The reigning Formula 1 World Champion, Max Verstappen, feels that Red Bull’s dominance may not translate to the twisting streets of Monaco.
Over one lap, Red Bull has at times been threatened by the teams chasing them as so far Ferrari and Aston Martin have managed to mount a qualifying challenge to the runaway RB19.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is the only driver, though, who has managed to beat both Red Bull cars to the pole position spot so far this campaign. For Verstappen, the 2023 Monaco GP is another opportunity for this to happen again.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit more difficult and closer together,” Verstappen said to select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com. “But we still have a good car, it’s just trying to extract the most out of it.
“We know that over one lap, it’s not normally our strongest point, but nevertheless we still do have quite a bit of opposition here, so it’s all possible.”
As track position is so crucial at Monaco, this might be the only time we do not see one of the two Red Bulls take the chequered flag ahead of the rest of the field in 2023.
Similarly, it might be the first time that we see the RB19 completely unleashed as it feels under-threat from the chasing pack.
Why might the field be closer?
Monaco is maximum downforce, with barely any straights and one DRS zone. Therefore this is a track where Red Bull cannot fully maximise their excellent aero-efficient package.
Furthermore, the RB19 is not the fastest car through slow-speed corners and this can put them under-threat to the other teams over one lap.
“The corners are so tight and so slow that sometimes you require a lot of different behaviour of the car compared to normal tracks,” Verstappen said.
“Also, the way you have to drive it, I mean sometimes your car works perfectly in these kinds of conditions, and sometimes it’s maybe not ideal.”
Monaco is also so narrow that overtaking is not particularly possible without a massive pace advantage, or a very brave move.
So, even if the Red Bull can get alongside a car that qualifies ahead of it, it might not have enough room to do anything about it despite having awesome speed under DRS.
There is also a risk of rain for the Monaco weekend, which only further places the emphasis on downforce and grip of the cars and reduces the demand for any straight-line speed.