Tension is in the Air, Can Red Bull Fight Through Adversity in 2024?

March 4, 2024Ramon Jones
Formula 1

Red Bull F1 Racing has dominated the sport in recent years, and quickly became the team to beat after taking the crown in 2021. Now with three straight drivers championships and a 1-2 finish in the 2023 championship. Red Bull has kicked off 2024 in familiar fashion with yet another 1-2 finish in the season opener in Bahrain. However, this success has also come with challenges off of the track.

The latest scandal involved team principal Christian Horner. Horner was accused of inappropriate conduct which was later dismissed by a third party investigation. Shortly after an anonymous whistleblower shared a series of messages with a number of people in the F1 paddock circle. The sender claimed the messages to be evidence of Horner’s alleged transgressions. However, the validity of this evidence is very much in question. Horner continues to deny any wrong doing and would not speculate on them. There is nothing thus far proving that any of these messages were sent to or by Horner. The rumor mill continues to spread on social media despite no new facts being released about the case. For now its innocent until proven guilty for Horner.

Pressure is Mounting Regarding Verstappen’s Future

In addition to the internal pressures Red Bull has faced. They also are the center focus for external concerns. There are rumors that Max Verstappen’s father has been in talks with Mercedes regarding an exit clause in Verstappen’s contract. Regardless of if this is true a move to Mercedes seems like the exact opposite of what Verstappen would want to continue his winning ways. Mercedes has struggled over the last two seasons and if Bahrain was any indication of the gap to Red Bull it would be a step down in performance for Verstappen to leave. Toto Wolff admittedly described the opening round as underwhelming.

“Our race in Bahrain was best described as underwhelming. We were hopeful of a stronger showing after our performance in practice and qualifying. Both drivers were pleased with the balance earlier in the weekend, and the more stable platform provided by the W15.

Unfortunately on Saturday evening, our cooling performance didn’t match our predictions. That forced us into management mode early on, which had the knock-on impact of reducing tire temperatures below optimum. That cost us the opportunity to show something closer to our true potential. It was a frustrating way to start the season but one we will learn from.”

Whether Verstappen would make such a move is unknown but given his continued success and dominance at Red Bull he doesn’t seem too keen on leaving the winning side as of now. If Mercedes can turn around their performance woes in 2024 this discussion might become more realistic but for now its just a rumor.

Is the Red Bull -Ford Relationship Strained?

In addition to the other off track pressure mounting in the Red Bull camp. It is clear that Ford was not happy with the lack of transparency during the Horner investigation. Despite Horner being cleared of any wrongdoing. There are more rumors circulating that Ford wants to pull out of their power unit deal set for 2026. Our sources confirm that these rumors are completely false and have no merit. However, that hasn’t stopped social media fans from fueling the fire.

Whether this is a witch hunt to knock the top team off of their A game or purely speculation. One thing that’s certain is Red Bull will need to be more focused now than ever if they want to repeat last year’s result.