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Red Bull's Christian Horner admits to surprise dominance in 2023 F1 season

The 2023 Formula 1 season witnessed a surprising twist as Red Bull's RB18 outshone Mercedes' ill-fated W14, leaving the Silver Arrows winless for the first time since 2011.

The man at the helm of Red Bull, Christian Horner, expressed his astonishment at Mercedes persisting with their zero sidepod car concept, a strategy that had failed them in the previous year.

As the teams transitioned into the new ground-effect era, Mercedes faced challenges in crafting a car that could match the prowess of Red Bull. The W14, designed to be a game-changer for the Silver Arrows, instead delivered disappointing results, prompting a mid-season rethink.

Horner, speaking to Motorsport.com, revealed his surprise at Mercedes' persistence with a flawed design: “I think what surprised us was that Ferrari had a very good car last year. The natural evolution of that we expected it to be a very tight contender this year. We were very surprised to see Mercedes sticking with the concepts that had clearly failed the previous year."

The turning point for Mercedes came when they adopted a downwash design, aligning more closely with the successful models of Red Bull and Ferrari. This strategic shift salvaged podium finishes for the team, with Lewis Hamilton securing a respectable third place in the Drivers' Championship.

Reflecting on Red Bull's success, Horner acknowledged the uncertainty they faced at the season's outset: "Certainly, coming out of Bahrain, we felt like, 'we've got a really good package here'. But we didn't know whether it was circuit specific – temperature, conditions, asphalt."

The Red Bull team managed to achieve a significant weight advantage over their 2022 challenger, but Horner emphasized the need for thorough testing to validate their success. "So, it's only when you've had a sample of two or three and you've gone to a couple of circuits that have been more troublesome, certainly for us the previous year, like Melbourne for example, that suddenly you're thinking, 'ok, no, this is really together'."

As the 2023 F1 season concludes, teams and drivers are on a well-deserved break, gearing up for the new year and the 2024 season. Official F1 pre-season testing is slated to kick off at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on February 23-25, marking the beginning of another thrilling chapter in Formula 1 history.

 

Read More: Red Bull's weighty triumph: The RB19's 20kg slim-down behind dominant 2023 season (planetsport.com)

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