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F1 pre-season testing: Red Bull main focus as teams prepare for new season


Red Bull will be the focus of attention when Formula 1 pre-season testing starts this week in Bahrain – for reasons both on track and off.

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For one thing, the future of team principal Christian Horner is in doubt as a result of an internal investigation being conducted by Red Bull into allegations that the 50-year-old has engaged in inappropriate and controlling behaviour towards a female colleague.

For another, the car Red Bull unveiled at the team’s Milton Keynes base last Thursday was a bit of a “wow” moment, even if chief technical officer Adrian Newey insisted that he did not consider it to be any kind of enormous step forward.

The 10 teams have just three days of testing to prepare for the start of the season and can run only one car at a time. So each driver should have no more than a day and a half to become acquainted with his new car in Bahrain.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was bemoaning this at the launch of his Aston Martin car a week or so ago. The Spaniard called the paucity of running “unfair”.

Alonso is guaranteed to be at the centre of attention this season, given the vacancy at Mercedes next season following Lewis Hamilton’s decision to switch to Ferrari. As Alonso put it: “There are three world champions on the grid and I am the only one available.”

But the driver market is a discussion for a little way down the road. Right now, even the stars without a seat for 2025 will be focused more on their new steeds than their futures.

Normally, it is hard to divine a clear picture of relative performance from pre-season testing because of the variables of fuel loads, engine modes, track condition, tyres and so on. But last year, the fact that Red Bull’s RB19 was in a league of its own was clear from pretty much its first serious run.

By the end of the three days last year, the identity of the 2023 world champion was in not even the slightest doubt, even if no-one expected Max Verstappen and Red Bull to produce the most dominant season in F1 history.

The nine other teams – not to mention everyone with an investment in a competitive, exciting world championship in what will be F1’s longest ever season – will be hoping against hope that the same thing does not happen again this week.



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