MARCH 3, 2024

Verstappen already in a different galaxy

As Max Verstappen dominated the Bahrain GP having also secured the first pole position on offer in 2024, hopes began to fade among Red Bull's rivals.

Max Verstappen, Bahrain GP 2024
© Red Bull

A few days earlier, Fernando Alonso said that based on pre-season testing, 19 drivers in the field knew they would not be world champion this year.

I'm not here to comment on Fernando's words, Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur said after Saturday's race. Everyone does car racing as they want.

However, he admitted: "It is certain that they are starting with a significant advantage. But only by putting them under pressure will they start to make mistakes.

We must not leave here defeated. Never.

His counterpart at Mercedes, however, most certainly sounded defeated after the chequered flag flew in Bahrain. When asked if Red Bull are already uncatchable in 2024, Toto Wolff confirmed: "Unfortunately, yes.

Max wasn't just in a different league today. He was in a different galaxy, he added.

Even triple consecutive world champion Verstappen, already the championship leader yet again in 2024, admitted that the race had been perfect.

I think the feeling in the car is pretty similar, said the Dutchman when asked to compare the difference between 2023 and 2024. Just a little better.

Teammate Sergio Perez, who finished second but almost 22 seconds behind, was only a few seconds in front of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, completing the podium.

But the Mexican admitted: We were expecting definitely the people around us to be a lot stronger.

When asked about Wolff's early title congratulations, however, Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko responded: "I would like to agree with him, but our results on Thursday and Friday do not point in that direction.

We noticed that our car was more sensitive to wind than the others, he said. And then we also had problems with the tire temperatures. Apart from me, no one in the team believed that we would be on pole here, he added.

And the embattled Red Bull team boss Christian Horner warned: You shouldn't read too much into a race on a special track with a special asphalt.

However, even Marko had to admit that the result on Sunday is ominous for the competitors.

We are still in the learning phase with the new car, he said. The fact that we can already celebrate such success should worry them a little.

There are even rumours that an early car upgrade is almost ready to debut, to which Marko simply smiled: Let's see.

Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes is actually further from Red Bull than we thought, although part of the team's struggles on Saturday were because of overheating engines.

We don't even know where it came from, said Wolff. Williams had the same problem.

Both Sainz and Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, had braking problems, but Sainz says Ferrari's issues are deeper than that. The Red Bull doesn't wear the soft tyres any more than we wear the hard ones.