Red Bull Racing’s RB-19 for the 2023 Formula 1 season is looking strong for its first outing in Bahrain.
Formula 1 is back in action for the 2023 season, and Red Bull Racing showed absolute dominance in the opening race held in Bahrain, seemingly with a lack of tyre degradation issues. Verstappen qualified pole for qualifying, and both he and Perez basically disappeared for the entire race, finishing way ahead of the rest of the field. While most of the media lapped up Alonso’s maiden podium with Aston Martin, the other teams are eager to figure out how the RB-19 is so good with its tyres.
There are two sector types in Bahrain. One focuses on straight-line performance, while the other is more technical with different cornering attributes. To be strong in both types show good balance, and that’s exactly what the RB-19 is.
The race itself showed the world that Red Bull is king when it comes to tyre management, which is an area that cost rivals the most. Ferrari and Mercedes were struggling all weekend with tyre degradation, and that compromised overall track performance.
Even though the Red Bull cars looked fast, the lack of a real threat meant that they probably weren’t running on full chat either. Plus, the delta times between the first and last laps during the soft stint are scarily good.
Of course, there are other factors at play here that can affect this. Things such as traffic or a lighter fuel load as the race went on do affect these metrics to a certain extent. But, considering Verstappen is only half a second slower on an old set of softs compared to a new set is pretty remarkable, to say the least.
Perez’s first stint was a little different due to traffic on the opening few laps. but on stint two he pretty much equals Verstappen’s performance. It wasn’t a short stint either, fitting his fan-conceived title of “tyre god”.
Because of this added advantage, Red Bull was able to employ a soft-soft-hard strategy, rather than most of the field which opted for a soft-hard-hard approach.
Will tyre degradation affect future circuits?
One can hope tyre degradation isn’t as big of a worry at other tracks as it was in Bahrain. The Bahrain circuit hasn’t been resurfaced since it was conceptualised in the early 2000s, and this obviously makes for a much more abrasive surface. With fresher tracks such as the newly built one in Jeddah, which is the next race on the calendar, hopefully the tyres won’t be as much of an issue on newer tarmac.
This then prompts another question. If Red Bull Racing can manage their cars so well on such an abrasive track, then just how much better can they handle it elsewhere?
We’ll have to tune in to the next Formula 1 race to find out.
Ferrari seems to be struggling the most with tyre degradation. Read more about it here.