Revving Up Down Under: Potential Competitors to Red Bull Racing in Australia


Red Bull’s dominance in the 2023 Formula 1 season could be considered one of the series’ most overwhelming displays of superiority. There’s little indication that their competitors will be any closer this season. With the rules remaining largely unchanged, much of the development from the RB19 is likely to carry over. 

Some rivals struggled to understand the extent of Red Bull’s advantage, which was minimal in qualifying but consistently dominant in races. Max Verstappen has firmly established himself as the leading driver of his era, and Sergio Perez’s performance last season didn’t suggest he would pose a challenge to his teammate.

Due to their superiority last year, Red Bull could confidently shift focus to their 2024 project, potentially mitigating the impact of their development restriction penalty for exceeding the 2021 cost cap if that penalty was ever going to be significant. Therefore, the likelihood of a competitive season hinges on how well Red Bull’s nine rival teams have narrowed the gap during the off-season.

Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing leads Charles Leclerc of Ferrari during 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Sergio Perez of Red Bull Racing leads Charles Leclerc of Ferrari during 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Potential Competitors


After Ferrari’s disappointing 2022 season, team principal Mattia Binotto faced criticism when he left the team. Some thought he was treated unfairly by the management. However, in his fourth year leading the team, Ferrari struggled to maintain its early success. It was outperformed both in developing its car and in racing strategies.

The decision to hire Frederic Vasseur from Alfa Romeo proved to be a good move in his first year as team principal. The team realized early on that the SF-23, which was developed before Vasseur joined, was not competitive enough to challenge Red Bull. Like Mercedes, Ferrari couldn’t make major changes to its car during the season, so it started focusing on improving it for 2024.

Despite these challenges, Ferrari got the most out of its car in the second half of the season. Carlos Sainz Jr. was the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race, and Charles Leclerc came close to winning in Las Vegas. By the end of the year, Ferrari fans could at least be hopeful that if Ferrari can build a competitive car, they have the right team to make the most of it.

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Mercedes quickly realized they wouldn’t be competitive against Red Bull in the 2023 Formula 1 season. Lewis Hamilton admitted early on that they didn’t have a shot at the championship. After struggling with the technical regulations in 2022 and failing to make the necessary corrections in 2023, Mercedes made a significant change by bringing back James Allison as technical director in April. 

Now, it’s uncertain whether they have figured out the rules’ complexities and adapted to the budget cap and aerodynamic restrictions. These restrictions will particularly affect them because of their second-place finish last year.

Despite these challenges, Mercedes has plenty of resources, great facilities, and a strong engine. Hamilton, one of the most successful F1 drivers, and George Russell, a fast and smart racer, will drive the W15s. The main concern is how well the chassis will perform.


McLaren’s situation is quite different from Ferrari’s and Mercedes’s. They started from a lower position, but their rate of improvement was the envy of every team. They described their update for the Austrian Grand Prix as their most successful in years, and the graph below shows why: Initially, they were 1.5% off the pace in the first five races, but after the update, they reduced this deficit to 0.3% in the following five races.

Andrea Stella did well in his first year as team principal. In his second year, he will benefit from two key hires: Rob Marshall, who joins as technical director for engineering and design after many years at Red Bull, and David Sanchez, who joins as technical director for car concept and performance. 

Additionally, McLaren’s slow start last season meant they finished fourth in the standings, giving them more development potential under the budget cap rules than Red Bull, Mercedes, or Ferrari.

Although their driver lineup may have the least experience on the grid after Williams, both drivers are capable, eager, and very fast. Lando Norris consistently performed well last year, and Oscar Piastri lived up to the expectations generated by his arrival.

Final Thoughts

The Australian F1 landscape is on the cusp of an exciting transformation. Teams that tap into the wellspring of Australian talent, embrace innovative marketing strategies, and resonate with the nation’s environmental consciousness may challenge Red Bull’s dominance. 

The rise of young Australian drivers and the ever-evolving F1 landscape promise thrilling competition for the hearts and minds of Aussie F1 fans in the years to come.

John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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