Motor Sports

Red Bull could stay ahead until 2026, fears Leclerc

ZANDVOORT: Red Bull's rivals may not be able to catch up with Max Verstappen and his dominant Formula One team until the next rule change in 2026, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc said yesterday.

The Monegasque was overall runner-up to the Dutch driver last year but since then Verstappen has won 10 of 12 races and is heading for a record-equalling ninth in a row at his home grand prix on Sunday.

Red Bull are on an unbeaten run of 13 races dating back to last season's Abu Dhabi finale and have triumphed in 21 of the last 22.

"They have a really big margin and it's going to be very difficult to catch them before the change of regulations (in 2026)," Leclerc told reporters at Zandvoort.

Mercedes' seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton feared Verstappen might be unbeatable in the remaining 10 races of 2023.

"There is a high chance that he will win every race," he told reporters.

"They might win everything. Hopefully later on in the year, we'll get closer, maybe.

"The fact is they are far ahead and most likely have started developing next year's car already... so it's very, very possible that Charles could be right."

Hamilton's team mate George Russell said Mercedes, second in the constructors' championship, hoped to be in a position to cash in if Red Bull did slip up, and took hope from past experience.

"I think going into this second half of the season we can be there to hopefully pick up any pieces that fall our way," he said.

"Last year we had the mentality that Singapore would probably be our only opportunity in the second half to win a race and when we didn't win in Singapore there was a bit of disappointment.

"There were no expectations going into Brazil and we came away with a victory there. So we'll treat every race as an opportunity."

Russell's win in Sao Paulo last November in a Mercedes one-two remains the last time anyone other than a Red Bull driver stood on top of the podium.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories