Red Bull’s 2023 Formula 1 season will be talked about for years to come: an unrelenting tirade of on-track dominance defined by the tireless work of an elite racing team and its inexorable driver. As the chequered flag fell on Max Verstappen’s ninth race win of the season, Formula 1 witnessed the proclamation of a new era.
There’s an old saying in the Netherlands that the Dutch are born riding a bicycle. It’s a funny one, but apt if you ever find yourself walking through some of its streets. It’s clear, however, that one such Dutchman decidedly rejected the wide-handled omafiets assigned to him at birth, in place of a very fast, very powerful F1 racecar. Such is Max Verstappen’s innate affinity with Red Bull’s RB19 that as he charged to his seventh consecutive race win of the season, it’s almost as if he was born to emphatically drive it.
Verstappen’s win at the Hungaroring this weekend ushered in a new era of supremacy for Red Bull; one that could run unopposed for years to come following the near-perfect execution of Red Bull race strategy. Verstappen edged Hamilton comfortably in front of a cascading convoy of close-quarter racing heading into Turn 1, leaving the seven-time World Champion to battle the two McLarens within seconds of the race start.
Verstappen then turned the screw and left the chasing pack in his wake, claiming Red Bull’s twelfth consecutive F1 race by 33s and surpassing McLaren’s long-standing 1988 record.
In qualifying, it was clear that Red Bull was struggling to replicate their now-trademark pace. Uncomfortable and overcompensating, Verstappen battled with the misaligned steering of an otherwise expertly-balanced machine, unable to find an equilibrium that was evidently benefiting Lewis Hamilton who found “perfection” on the day, making gains on a track that has typically favoured Mercedes in recent years. It was enough for Hamilton to knock Verstappen off pole by 0.003s.
“Every time I got to the apex of the corner it was just not gripping up for me,” Verstappen revealed. “That’s probably the worst balance I can have in a car.”
The pendulum has well and truly swung Red Bull’s way this season, turning dominance into supremacy with each passing circuit. Verstappen is driving like a man possessed, breaking decades-old records to not only win 12 consecutive Formula 1 races for the first time in history but to do it by obliterating the chasing teams, who, for the best part of two years, have simply been unable to maintain any sort of competitive edge with Red Bull and the omnipotent RB19.
Speaking with Crash.net, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner said: “A starting grid that has Lewis and Max starting alongside each other, I think it’s always one as a team principal where you are thinking I just hope I see the car out of the first turn… Once he emerged out of the first turn he really stamped his authority all over the race and really controlled the race from start to finish.”
Once Verstappen was clear there was really nothing any of the other drivers could do to catch up with him, driving one of the fastest cars in the history of the motorsport, to finish 33s clear. Even Sergio Pérez, who has struggled to get out of qualifying in recent weeks, was able to weave in and out of the on-track traffic to take P3 in Hungary, claiming Driver of the Day and please Red Bull hierarchy with an assertive 1-3 to extend the Contructors’ lead to 229 points.
Red Bull’s record-breaking run could continue next week during the Belgian Grand Prix, where Red Bull claimed a famous 1-2 finish in 2022 with Verstappen starting from 14th at the start of the race. Now, in a machine that simply eclipses the performances of last year’s car, Verstappen will be hoping he can continue to push the consecutive race wins record, carving out a new supremacy era in Formula 1 and forever etch his name in history.