Mark Webber has predicted that Red Bull will remain the most "dangerous" team in 2023, despite the squad facing a penalty for breaching the 2021 cost cap.
The Milton Keynes-based squad achieved both championships in 2022, with Max Verstappen winning a record-breaking 15 races en route to his second title while the outfit claimed the Constructors' crown for the first time since 2013.
Ferrari posed an early challenge before losing momentum as the campaign progressed. Meanwhile, Mercedes struggled with issues such as porpoising on their W13, though displayed signs of progress during the latter stages of the season.
While Verstappen has suggested that his rivals could be more of a threat in 2023, Webber believes that this remark was "very polite of Max".
Webber: Everyone has to lift their games
"Red Bull are still the most dangerous team coming out of the blocks," Webber told Autosport.
"Actually, everyone has to lift their games in all aspects. We saw that Mercedes had great reliability, Ferrari of course less so. But Red Bull had good reliability and were strong at all tracks.
"And Max, it's just 'Formula 1 plus' for him at times. I think the highlight for me was to see what he did through the field in Spa. That was just unbelievable."
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How will Red Bull be impacted by penalty?
One factor that will be different for Red Bull going into 2023 is the punishment that the team have received for breaching the 2021 cost cap.
It was confirmed in October that the squad had been ordered to pay a $7 million fine, along with having to forfeit 10 per cent of their aerodynamic development allowance.
Verstappen has previously suggested that the penalty will "hurt" Red Bull, while team boss Christian Horner claimed that the punishment could cost them "up to half a second per lap".
Webber admits that the impact of the sanction is hard to predict, but expects the outfit to handle it.
"I don't think anyone knows really how much that's going to impact them, but I'm sure they've got enough creative people there to keep it going," the former F1 driver said.
"But I think we also don't know how much Mercedes have given up on this year. In some ways, giving up is not the right word, because there's always some learning for next year.
"But I mean how they allocated the time, the R&D [Research and Development] and the money under the budget cap between last year and the 2023 car.
"Thanks to those elements, it's going to be fascinating to see how the first quarter plays out next season."
Revealed: 2023 F1 driver salaries
How much money will F1's class of 2023 take home with them? It's easy to assume that the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are the sport's biggest earners, find out which F1 stars take home the biggest pay cheques:
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