Viaplay analysts Christijan Albers and Tom Coronel enjoyed the magnificent first Grand Prix of Red Bull Racing. According to them, no one could compete with Max Verstappen, neither in terms of driving style nor strategy. The gentlemen saw how much bad luck Charles Leclerc had and also thought that all viewers were treated to the beautiful battles between Mercedes and Aston Martin.
Verstappen and Sergio Pérez started the 2023 season in a perfect way. The new Formula 1 year could not have started better with a one-two. The problems with the clutch briefly caused some tension for the team and the Dutchman, but it was not a major problem. Verstappen managed his laps and his tires very well. ‘What struck me were those ten seconds’, Coronel begins. He wanted that margin for himself to dominate that race. Then you have it under control’, the Dakar driver continues. “And I noticed, they talk about the team all the time. So what Max did, Pérez did too.’
However, Verstappen was the only one of the two Red Bull drivers to suffer from the clutch acting a bit cocky. ‘Pérez was not bothered by that, because he has a completely different driving style. Pérez is quite aggressive in the corners, then you use more of your tyres’, Coronel explains. Leclerc was the only one who could possibly offer some competition to the two-time world champion after the opening phase, but it soon turned out that the gap between the drivers was too big. The Monegask couldn’t do anything later, his engine stopped. ‘Every time a lot of bad luck for Leclerc’, Albers takes over. “They were slower than Red Bull, but strategically better than last year,” the former driver thinks.
Praise for Leclerc: ‘I think it’s great that he kept Pérez behind for a long time’
“The strategy was the opposite of Red Bull, but yes, if you are at the front you can determine it all yourself,” Albers continues. ‘They just didn’t stand a chance against Max,’ adds Coronel. Pérez was able to quickly join the Monegask on his new tires, but the Viaplay gentlemen were more impressed by Leclerc than by Pérez. “Leclerc has the lead in the team, he is immediately aggressive in the first lap of the race,” praises Albers. “That Red Bull is faster, but if you have such a talent (like Leclerc, ed.) In a lesser car, and compare it with Pérez, I think it’s great that he kept Pérez behind for so long.”
The driver who also deserved a lot of praise was, of course, Fernando Alonso. According to Albers and Coronel, he caught Lewis Hamilton in a difficult spot, and that was pretty good. “That corner is quite difficult, you are braking, the car is becoming a bit unstable, so you actually want to brake earlier. Hamilton was focused on that,” says Albers. ‘At the start of the race, Lewis (Hamilton, ed.) was alert. Yes, then it will be a duel.’ The Viaplay analysts thought that Alonso had a very good pace. “As a Mercedes factory team, Aston Martin was simply above Mercedes.”
De Vries ‘a little too hesitant’
Nyck de Vries completed his first Formula 1 race as an AlphaTauri driver on Sunday. De Vries did not have it easy, and was realistic afterwards. ‘The start was not very strong, he was a bit too hesitant,’ says Coronel. “He took advantage of other people’s mistakes and made a lot of mistakes himself,” the Dakar driver continues. ‘He didn’t make many turns, for example.’ That got worse because De Vries had to drive a long last stint. “They didn’t go in under the virtual safety car, he didn’t have any rubber left. It looked like he was riding in the service of (Tsunoda, ed.). But I do see potential.’
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