Published On: Sat, Mar 16th, 2024

Max Verstappen causing ‘difficult’ problem for Red Bull chiefs ahead of Australian GP | F1 | Sport

The scale of ‘s early-season dominance will be sapping of motivation to make performance improvements, according to F1 legend Damon Hill, who believes creating that hunger will be ‘difficult’ for and the team’s other leadership figures as the year wears on.

Red Bull have cruised to consecutive one-two finishes in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to kick off the new year. Verstappen wiped the floor with his competitors, including team-mate Sergio Perez, in 2023, and he looks on course to do so again over the coming races.

The reigning triple world champion won by a staggering 22 seconds in Sakhir earlier this month, and crossed the line more than 13 seconds ahead of Perez in Jeddah last weekend.

While blowing away the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren is all well and good, 1996 world title winner Hill believes that it also presents a ‘difficult’ problem to solve in terms of striving for mid-season gains.

“It’s nice when you’ve got a one-two to start off your season and your Constructors’ Championship, so the team feels great,” he told F1 Nation. “The funny thing is, though, that it’s quite difficult to get that striving emotion.

“When you come second or you get beaten, you don’t like it, so you want to change that situation. There’s a lot of motivation to change.

“Whereas when you win, you kind of… I know that they will still be trying very hard to find improvements and gains because they’ll have to, but at the same time, where’s the motivation? The only motivation is that you’re going to be caught, and if you’re looking over your shoulder and you can’t see anyone that’s going to catch you, then you can almost go on holiday.”

Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey had the luxury of switching focus to developing this year’s RB20 long before the curtain fell on last season due to the team’s comfortable Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship wins.

It remains to be seen whether Hill’s concerns play a part later this year and the heavy hitters are able to close the gap on Red Bull. Ferrari have established themselves as the second-best team so far in 2024 with almost double the points totals of McLaren and Mercedes.

All eyes will be on Verstappen at the Australian Grand Prix next weekend as he bids to lead home a third consecutive Red Bull one-two and continue putting his F1 rivals to the sword.

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