Jolyon Palmer gives Red Bull’s rivals something to ‘cling to’ after Bahrain rampage

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, in front of the '1' sign. Bahrain, March 2023. Credit: Alamy
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, in front of the '1' sign. Bahrain, March 2023. Credit: Alamy

Although Jolyon Palmer believes Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin all have more scope, as well as R&D time, to develop their cars than what Red Bull has, he’s worried about the “damage can they do” in the meantime.

Max Verstappen cruised to a “lovely” victory in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the Dutchman in a league of his own as he took the chequered flag 11 seconds ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez.

But perhaps more noteworthy was that he was 38s ahead of third-placed Fernando Alonso, Red Bull the only team to lead a lap on Sunday night.

It has George Russell saying F1 may as well give Red Bull the championship trophies already as they’ve “got this championship sewn up.”

“I expect them to win, they should win every single race this season, that’s my bet. I’d say so because with the performance they’ve got I don’t see anyone challenging them.”

Charles Leclerc is also worried about Ferrari’s chances of fighting Red Bull, saying they were a “second off the pace”.

He added: “Red Bull seems to have found something really big during the race pace. In terms of qualy pace, they are actually pretty similar to us, but then we come to the race and we are a second every lap off the pace, which is huge.”

But while Red Bull’s rivals were, as to be expected, somewhat downbeat on Sunday morning, it should be noted that the last time a driver won the opening race and went onto win the World Championship was Nico Rosberg back in 2016.

That means it hasn’t happened in seven years, a glimmer of hope for everyone to grab onto says Palmer.

“They’ll be clinging to it that’s for sure,” the former F1 driver turned pundit told the F1TV post-race show. “We’ll all be clinging to it in terms of racing action right now because of the way Red Bull are ahead.”

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“But,” he added, “development can make a big development.

“Red Bull have the least amount of development time, they’ve got an even smaller amount than they should have done because of the cost cap breach.

“Last year Ferrari were 1-2 here, it wasn’t quite a walk in the park as today, but by the end of the year they were quite a long way behind Red Bull.

“That shows the level of development that goes into the cars.

“And Ferrari, Mercedes and Aston Martin, they can all find a little bit and if Red Bull are standing still they can be caught.

“The question is what damage can they do now?”

As of Bahrain that damage is 43 points for Red Bull to Aston Martin’s 23, and to Mercedes’ 16. Ferrari are on 12 after a DNF for Charles Leclerc.

This season Red Bull have less R&D time than any of their rivals, the Milton Keynes squad’s allowance set at just 70 percent given that they won the 2022 Constructors’ Championship.

That was further reduced by 10% as punishment for exceeding the budget cap during the 2021 season.

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