Under the microscope | Red Bull battle between Verstappen and Pérez continues down under

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Under the microscope |  Red Bull battle between Verstappen and Pérez continues down under

It is already time for the third race of the 2023 season. The Australian Grand Prix is ​​scheduled for this weekend and the big question is not if, but how Red Bull Racing will dominate in Melbourne. Is there really no one who can do something about it? In Under the microscope, F1Maximum highlights the five most important storylines leading up to the upcoming race.

1. Verstappen vs. Perez part three

Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez have now both won a Grand Prix in 2023. In Australia, one of these two can add one, provided Red Bull actually wins. Of course that is not yet certain, but it must be strange if the RB19 is not to be the best car on the Albert Park Street Circuit. If it is, then there is again a high chance of a kind of duel between the two drivers of the Austrian team.

Verstappen and Pérez still seem to be a bit suspicious of each other after last year’s team order row in Brazil, which has its roots in qualifying in Monaco in 2022. In Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, both gentlemen only wanted to slow down if the other did too and each other’s lap times were requested from the team – which was clearly not happy about that. In Australia, people are driving on a street circuit again, so there is a good chance that Pérez can again cause a duel within Red Bull. It’s up to Verstappen to respond.

2. Alonso goes for hat-trick of podiums

Fernando Alonso is the man who has to be there if things go wrong at Red Bull. The brand new Aston Martin driver has finished on the podium in the past two Grands Prix – not without some confusion – and the Spaniard can go for the hat trick in Melbourne. Alonso seems to be the best version of himself ever and he must now maintain his top form.

It will not be easy for the two-time world champion. Ferrari and Mercedes are still lurking if things don’t work out for the 41-year-old veteran. In Jeddah, George Russell was of course given Alonso’s third place as a gift, only to have to give it back. In any case, a third podium place in a row is not certain for the Asturian.

3. De Vries must take steps to become team leader AlphaTauri

Nyck de Vries, unlike Alonso, for example, has had a somewhat lesser start to the 2023 season. The Dutchman has not yet fully found his feet at AlphaTauri, while expectations around the 28-year-old were and still are sky-high. Where De Vries had to profile himself as team leader, teammate Yuki Tsunoda mainly took on that role.

That is no shame when you consider that the Japanese is now in his third season with the team. It mainly raises the question of whether people rightly had such high expectations of De Vries. Yes, he has a lot of experience in other classes and that should help him, but he is still a debutant. A debutant must be given the time to take steps and now it is up to De Vries to take those steps. The next opportunity for those steps: the Australian Grand Prix.

4. McLaren suddenly the fifth team down under?

Speaking of taking steps: if there is one team that can use several big steps, it is McLaren. The British team is last in the World Cup standings with zero points. Signs of improvement in qualifying in Jeddah, with rookie Oscar Piastri finishing ninth, were canceled out in Sunday’s race by front wing damage and a total lack of race pace.

But as said: Piastri’s ninth place on Saturday was indeed a sign of improvement. It shows that the speed is there in itself, but it has to be good again first. Moreover: McLaren did not start well last season either, but in race three – in Australia – it was almost above Mercedes in the ranking. This made the team from Woking the third team. Such a move may be out of the question this season, but who knows. Maybe McLaren is suddenly the fifth team in Albert Park this year.

5. Double the fun in the entry classes F2 and F3

In addition to Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 are also down under this coming weekend. It is the second time this season that both step-up classes are active during a Grand Prix weekend after this was also the case in Bahrain. We now have a better picture of who the title candidates are, especially in Formula 2, while that needs to become a little clearer in Formula 3.

In any case, it is clear that Ralph Boschung is the championship leader in the highest entry class, while Gabriel Bortoleto is in the second highest championship. Both gentlemen are respectively one and three points ahead of their main rivals, called Théo Pourchaire and Oliver Goethe. In addition, attention is of course also paid to Richard Verschoor at Van Amersfoort Racing, who wants to rise above his current eighth place in Formula 2.

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