Red Bull's dominant 2022 season was literally one for the record books, as both the team and its star driver Max Verstappen broke a few F1 records along the way to clinching both the driver's and manufacturer's championships well before the end of the season. While Ferrari finished P2 in both the manufacturer's and driver's standings, it was a distant second. So distant, in fact, that Red Bull doesn't seem particularly afraid of Ferrari for the upcoming 2023 season. Instead, Red Bull is more concerned with another rival—Mercedes.
According to Autosport, Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko spoke about next year's competition and named Mercedes as a bigger threat than Ferrari. "I would say that we should fear Mercedes more," Marko said. "Mainly because they have an advantage over Ferrari in terms of strategy and reliability."
Marko's feelings aren't without merit. Last season, Ferrari's cars and drivers were more than capable of being every bit as dominant as Red Bull but countless breakdowns and strategy missteps saw an incredibly promising team squander its chances of victory. Mocking Ferrari's race and tire management became a weekly social media meme, with former team principal Mattia Binotto serving as the media's primary punching bag.
At the same time, Mercedes started the 2022 season out slowly, as it came to grips with the new technical and mechanical regulations. However, Mercedes ended the season on a roll, with driver George Russell snagging the team's only win of the season and Lewis Hamilton pressuring Verstappen for the lead on a weekly basis. So as Ferrari stumbled, Mercedes got its ball rolling as the season went on, leading Marko to feel that Mercedes can carry that momentum into 2023. He also feels that Red Bull's advantage last season wasn't as big as it may have seemed.
"Our situation is certainly not like that of Mercedes at the beginning of the hybrid era," said Marko. "And we shouldn't forget, 2022 has been the first year under this new set of regulations. Other teams have obviously seen what we have done with this year's car."
While it's understandable that Marko feels Mercedes is its biggest threat, it must be mentioned that Binotto retired from Ferrari after the season ended. In his place is former Alfa Romeo boss, and Sauber Motorsport CEO, Fred Vasseur. So while Ferrari certainly underperformed last season, especially given its impressive car and talented drivers, Vasseur's team could perform very differently.
The 2023 F1 season should be an exciting one, as more teams improve their cars and strategy to catch up to Red Bull. The three-way battle for the top, between Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari, should be a thrilling one to watch, especially if other teams join in on the fun.
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