F1 world champion Jenson Button sees a potential “upset” on the F1 horizon in 2024 based on the progress registered by several teams in the back-half of the season and thinks it “won’t be all Red Bull’s way” next year.
It’s been nothing short of a crushing campaign in 2023 for Red Bull and Max Verstappen, thanks to the superiority of the bulls’ RB19 coupled with the Dutchman’s exceptional talent.
Save for Ferrari and Carlos Sainz’s outlying triumph in Singapore, the championship has been an exclusive affair for the bulls, with Verstappen claiming 17 wins in 20 races and teammate Sergio Perez snatching 2 victories.
In the early part of the season, Aston Martin led the charge behind Red Bull before its strength subsided in favour of Mercedes and Ferrari.
But lately, McLaren has picked up the baton of challenger, with the team securing seven podiums in the last six races.
Asked if any one of Red Bull’s stalking horses will need to come up with a creative technical advantage – à la Brawn in 2009 – to upstage F1’s leader, Button told Sky Sports: “Well, you don’t have the rule changes that we were lucky enough to have [in 2009].
I also just think the sport is even more competitive now. You know, there are so many big teams fighting at the front and one tiny slip-up and you’re the fourth-best team.
“So to catch Red Bull’s difficult, but they’re getting closer.
“I mean, Brazil wasn’t a great example, but this second part of the season you’ve seen teams like McLaren, Mercedes, both fighting very closely with the Red Bulls.
“Max has had that little advantage, but his team-mate hasn’t, so we could have an upset next year.
“I don’t think it’s going to be all Red Bull’s way. This year was an exceptional year for that team, and I don’t feel it will be the same next year, which is what the sport needs. We need a little bit of a mix up.”
Lewis Hamilton has expressed his fears that Red Bull will carry its significant lead not only into 2024 but also well beyond and until F1’s next regulation overhaul in 2026.
But Red Bull team principal Christian Horner isn’t as confident as the Mercedes driver.
“I think that we've got a great car, we've got a great basis,” commented Horner in Brazil. “We need to keep evolving it, but of course, the returns are going to diminish because you're hitting the top of the curve. And you can see it will concertina.
“It will become closer and that will stretch us more, for sure. But the team are very, very motivated. You can see nobody's let off since we won the championship. Everybody's still fully on it.”