McLaren wary of ‘unpleasant surprise’ from Red Bull in 2024

McLaren wary of ‘unpleasant surprise’ from Red Bull in 2024

McLaren boss Zak Brown has warned Formula One it could be in for an even more one-sided season in 2024 if Red Bull has made further steps forward with its dominant 2023 race car.

Red Bull won all but one race last year, a record 19 of which were claimed by Max Verstappen, who won his third world championship.

Given its advantage, and to mitigate the impact of the windtunnel penalty from breaching the 2021 cost cap, Red Bull’s development focus shifted half way through the season from its dominant RB19 to its successor, which will race this season, leading to fears the team will have bolstered its on-track advantage even further.

McLaren was one of Red Bull’s closest rivals but Brown did not make any lofty promises about what to expect in 2024.

“We clearly want to continue to close the gap,” Brown said when asked what his ambitions are for the coming season.

“We finished up last year second, third quickest team, depending on which circuit you’re at. The car development has been strong. Red Bull certainly seems like they didn’t develop last year to the level they could if they wanted to, so that could be an unpleasant surprise for all of us.”

As he did after the final race of last season, Brown expressed concerns over the evolving nature of Red Bull’s relationship with its junior team with AlphaTauri.

AlphaTauri has been based in Minardi’s old Italian headquarters since its formation but is moving some of its operation to Red Bull’s Milton Keynes facility ahead of the new year.

Brown feels that set-up will undermine the purpose of F1’s budget cap.

“Concerned over the AlphaTauri, Red Bull alliance,” he said. “AlphaTauri is from what I understand moving to the UK which I think will benefit both teams, so this A/B team and co-ownership, which is a whole other level of A/B team, a big concern, to ours and the health of the sport and the fairness of the sport.

“When these were put in place the sport was in a different place, huge gap between people like ourselves who had huge budgets and smaller teams.

“Now pretty much everybody is near the cap if not at the cap, so everyone’s playing with the same size bat, to use a baseball term. And therefore that’s not necessary but it might give someone an unfair advantage. I think that’s something we need to tackle with the sport quickly.”

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