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Red Bull Racing

Red Bull dominate again - is it time for F1 to panic?

Red Bull enjoyed another 1-2 finish to kick off the new season at the Bahrain Grand Prix with Max Verstappen dominating the event - is it time for F1 to panic?

Verstappen win Bahrain 2024
Analysis
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

The 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix signalled the start of a new season but if you slipped the 57-lap encounter into a 2023 highlight reel, very little would be amiss.

Max Verstappen’s dominant drive to victory was a familiar story and mirrored a large batch of races that we have witnessed across the last two years.

While there is no doubting the greatness on display for Verstappen, it does not make for fantastic viewing. It’s not so much that the Dutchman is constantly winning - the issues stem from nobody being able to get close to him and create the product that F1’s organisers want.

So is it time for the owners to panic?

Periods of dominance in F1 are not uncommon. The sport's history is filled with phases where one team or driver sat above the rest on an unbeatable perch.

But never before has there been such a stretch during which one driver has been so unbeatable than the current era with Verstappen.

Having set a new record for the most consecutive wins last year with 10, Verstappen can best his own statistic if he wins in Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan in the coming weeks.

Red Bull should be commended for jumping out of the blocks with a fantastic car at the start of the new regulation period in 2022, but the prospect of catching up to the Milton Keynes-based squad is made tricky by Red Bull being able to switch focus to its successor earlier than the competition due to having such a lap-time advantage.

It doesn’t bode well for the hope of any possible title fight before 2026 and even then, there exists the possibility that Red Bull will once again nail the regulations and streak into the distance.

			© Red Bull Content Pool
	© Red Bull Content Pool

F1’s direction in recent years has very much been focused on bettering the show, with the most dramatic change being the injection of sprint races.

The alternate weekend format does uproot tradition and adds more spice to a race weekend, but the bigger picture remains unchanged - nobody can challenge Red Bull for the championship.

Speaking after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Aston Martin Team Principal Mike Krack urged people not to “turn off the TV” and insisted that “everybody will push as much as they can”.

But pushing just as much as its rivals will be Red Bull who is seeking to maintain and even grow its advantage. There can be little blame if people are switching off over the prospect of facing a third straight year of predictability.

The bottom line is F1 has not been exciting since the Verstappen/Hamilton squabble in 2021 which was no doubt a peak for the sport in terms of the attention it got.

			© Red Bull Contentpool
	© Red Bull Contentpool

It set a new benchmark for what F1 can offer, which was edge-of-the-seat excitement, no obvious indication of who would come out on top and a title battle that went to the very end.

The absence of that seismic competition has left F1 in a difficult place as it fights to keep viewers interested. Not everyone is an F1 fanatic and the prospect of two more years of unrivalled competition will be enough for some to opt out.

F1 boasts itself as the pinnacle of motorsport - while the cars live up to the label, the competition does not.

Bahrain was only an early indication of what may or may not lie ahead this year, but Red Bull’s continued success was long touted before it became apparent on track this weekend.

Should the coming races follow suit in a similar fashion, there should be little surprise over dwindling numbers.

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