Red Bull’s Favoritism Towards Verstappen Justified as Hamilton’s Polarizing Attempts to Cause a Rift Thwarted

Published 09/05/2023, 12:45 PM EDT

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Record breakers and sore losers. That’s the best way to describe what the past two seasons have been like for Red Bull and Mercedes, respectively. After Red Bull took over the reins of Formula 1 after Mercedes caused its own downfall post-2021, the Milton-Keynes squad hasn’t looked back. And Mercedes has been left scratching its head, desperately trying to find a way to catch Red Bull. Through it all, Max Verstappen has assumed his role as leader of the pack, while all Lewis Hamilton can do is sit back and watch the Dutchman rewrite history. Well, that’s not all Hamilton has done recently.

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With Verstappen on the brink of another record at the Italian GP, Hamilton undermined his achievements and dominance, saying, “In my personal opinion, all my teammates have been stronger than the teammates Max has had.” By saying this, Hamilton inadvertently demeaned Sergio Perez. Although this should’ve caused a rift between Perez and Verstappen, all it did was justify Red Bull’s favoritism toward the Dutchman.

Red Bull favoring Max Verstappen is “normal”

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No matter the team in Formula 1, there’s always this one polarizing debate: Who’s the number one driver, the one around whom the team functions? While it may not be as prevalent in other teams, Verstappen is undoubtedly the preferred driver at Red Bull. Although Perez tried putting up a fight in the past couple of seasons, even he’s accepted that Verstappen is built differently, and there’s no way anyone—including himself—can outperform him. 

On the F1 Nation Podcast, F1 journalist Robert Cinchero dissected Hamilton’s dig at Verstappen. He said, “Max has more than 50% of the team pushing in his side. But of course, it’s normal. If you have a guy that has performance like Max is, of course, the team is pushing in his direction.” Putting its faith in Verstappen comes with the certainty that he will deliver no matter what. That’s precisely what he’s been doing since joining the team in 2016.

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Cinchero added, “If he asks to have a different setup, a different technical solution if you see the result, you cannot say no. We’re talking about a driver who has won 10 races in a row.” Yes, 10 races in a row, a feat never before achieved in F1. With the compounded effect of everything he’s achieved with and for Red Bull, no one can hold it against the Milton-Keynes for favoring its soon-to-be three-time world champion. Despite all signs pointing to a team built around and progressing in Verstappen’s direction, a Red Bull key figure denied any such allegations.

Helmut Marko rubbishes claims of Verstappen favoritism

The start of the 2023 season was a lot like 2022 for Sergio Perez. He started on the right foot, raking in a couple of wins to his credit. But after the first few races—just like in 2022—Perez’s performances compared to Verstappen started faltering, and the Dutchman only started getting into the groove. Comparing how both seasons played out, many attributed it to Red Bull developing its car with Verstappen as the focus, giving him preference over Perez. But Helmut Marko denied any such claims.

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When asked if the Milton-Keynes outfit favors the two-time champion, Marko said, “No, that is not true. At the beginning of 2022, the car suffered a lot of understeer. This was due to the car being overweight. In the long run, you will not be successful with an overweight car, but as the car became lighter, the car went more to a ‘neutral’ balance—or even a bit more oversteer.” This means that Perez prefers a car that understeers, but Verstappen’s driving style is more suited to oversteer. As the car developed in both seasons, it tended to an oversteer feel, giving Verstappen the edge over Perez.

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What do you feel? Does Red Bull really favor Max Verstappen, or does what Helmut Marko said hold any truth?

WATCH THIS STORY | Helmut Marko’s Frightening Reality Slap: Lewis Hamilton Downplays Max Verstappen’s Dominance!

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan

757Articles

One take at a time

Aditi is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports and is essentially a sportsperson. She fell in love with F1 in 2020. It happened when her brother tuned into that first race weekend in Austria, and she knew right then and there that she had to learn everything she could about the sport.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar

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